Dr. Heather Judkins, PhD

Dr. Heather Judkins is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She received a Bachelors degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, Masters degree in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution, ecology, and biogeography of cephalopods with a main focus currently in the Wider Caribbean.

Heather Judkins, Ph.D., Curriculum Vitae

Shannon Riley,
Graduate Student

My name is Shannon Riley and I’m a Master’s student in the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. I was drawn to cephalopods after seeing videos of them on National Geographic TV shows and then finding juvenile specimens in plankton samples. I graduated from Oregon State University in 2019 with degrees in ocean science and marine biology. I discovered Dr. Judkins’ research while exploring ideas for graduate school research and decided head across the country to join her lab at USFSP. I will be working with Dr. Heather Judkins and Dr. Steve Murawski to examine the distributions of cephalopod paralarvae in the Gulf of Mexico and analyze which environmental factors affect their abundance.

Claire de Noyo,
Graduate Student

Hi, I’m Claire and I’m a first-year master’s student in the USFSP conservation bio program! I’ve always had a passion for all things marine but my path to grad school has certainly not been a traditional one. I went back to college in my late twenties after dropping out of film school (I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker/save the whales!) the first time around. After dabbling in various majors at community college, I realized my aptitude for science, transferred to Oregon State University, and committed to marine biology. Right before my final year at OSU, I had an amazing opportunity to spend the summer at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, a marine research hub on the Oregon coast. My time at Hatfield truly changed my life so I set my sights on grad school and the rest is history! I’m beyond excited to be here at the Judkins Invertebrate Lab and can’t wait to get started on my thesis research.

Andrea (Andie) Murray,
Graduate Student

My name is Andie, and I graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Zoology in 2015, and have been working at The Florida Aquarium ever since. The stars aligned, and I decided it was time to get myself back in school. I have known Dr. Heather Judkins since I started at the aquarium where I truly fell in love with conservation education. I am part of organizations such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), and the Florida Association of Zoological Educators (FAZE). I have always been passionate about our oceans, and I am excited to see where this next path takes me.

Lisa Rose-Mann,
Graduate Student

Hi! My name is Lisa Rose-Mann, and I am currently enrolled as a Master’s student in the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. I’ve always loved the ocean and was fortunate to have grown up in Florida surrounded by the sea with Sea World just an hour away. My path was a little different than most and you could say that I’m a non-traditional student. My college track didn’t start until my 40’s where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Minor Degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Marine Biology as an Honor’s student from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. I was not entirely sure where I wanted to focus when I started, but my mind was made up once I met Dr. Heather Judkins. I enrolled in as many of her courses as I could, and I had the best experience working on my honor’s thesis in the Judkins Invertebrate Lab. I’m excited to once again be working with her, Dr. Steve Murawski and Dr. Isabel Romero combining biology and chemistry to study mid-water squid and tuna in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m looking for evidence of organic compounds such as those from oil spills, pesticides and potentially microplastics.

Hannah Schwaiger,
Graduate Student
Hannah Schwaiger

My name is Hannah Schwaiger and I’m a Master’s student in the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. I fell in love with cephalopods through hearing stories about them in classes during my undergraduate degree in marine biology at the University of West Florida. I learned about USFSP while taking the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s Marine Field Studies Course, during which I spent a week learning about the open ocean from Dr. Judkins. I had the opportunity to identify the only squid we caught on our research cruise that week, and I have had a love for USFSP ever since. I will be working with Dr. Heather Judkins and Dr. Ernst Peebles on stable isotopes in the eye lenses of Doryteuthis pealeii, a species of inshore squid, and will use this data to map the locations of the squid throughout the Gulf of Mexico during different times in their lives.

Kate Lowry,
Graduate Student

Kate Lowry is a Master’s student of Conservation Biology at the University of South Florida Saint Petersburg. She is working with Dr. Judkins and the Florida Aquarium on sea turtle behavior in captivity for her thesis research. This research will compare several factors of the turtles’ environment and health in order to make conclusions about how turtle behavior varies. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Marine Biology and Conservation Biology/Ecology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Tiffany Nicholson,
Graduate Student

Hello, my name is Tiffany Nicholson. Recently I just graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in the Honors Program with a major in Biology, a minor in Environmental science, and a concentration in Marine biology. I am now a Master’s student at the same University studying conservation biology with my research being focused on marine biology and toxicology. Since I was a young girl I have always lived on the water, which has helped gain my passion for marine biology. With my master’s research I hope to understand more about the affects of oil pollution on red snappers in the Gulf of Mexico.

Aubrey Hetzler,
Graduate Student

I am a 2014 graduate of Penn State University where I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with a minor in Marine Science.  Prior to graduating I spent 6 months with The University of Southampton,UK, taking classes in Marine Biology and Oceanography at The National Oceanography Center. At USFSP I am part of the first group of Conservation Biology graduate students. My Master’s research will focus on the conservation of Dendrogyra cylindrus (Pillar Coral) through a microbial community assessment and growth study.

Sarah Shedler,
Graduate Student

Sarah Shedler is a Master’s student at USF’s College of Marine Science. She is working with Dr. Heather Judkins on pteropods. Her master’s thesis is focused on their identification, distribution and abundance in the Gulf of Mexico. Sarah received her Bachelor’s of Science, with a marine biology concentration from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Kris Clark,
Graduate Student 
and Research Assistant

Kris Clark is a graduate student at USF’s College of Marine Science and DEEPEND research assistant in Dr. Heather Judkins’ lab. She plans to obtain her Master’s Degree in Biological Oceanography. Her master’s thesis is focused on pelagic marine heteropoda vertical distribution and eye diameter size correlations in the water column and examining population genetics. As a research assistant to Dr. Heather Judkins at USFSP, her role focuses on the genomic and morphological identification of various cephalopoda. Kris is a life long ocean enthusiast which compliments her work with DEEPEND and her educational pursuits.

Brenna Meath, M.S.

Hello! My name is Brenna and I am from Queensbury, New York.   I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains near Lake George so I have always been passionate about nature and the environment.  At a young age my family brought me on trips to the Caribbean where I first started snorkeling.  I knew from then on that I wanted to be a marine biologist!  I came to Florida in 2010 to get my bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Tampa.  Since graduating in 2014 I interned at MOTE Marine Lab conducting coral reef research and at NOAA conducting shark research.  My master’s thesis in biological oceanography conducted research on squid eye lenses from the Gulf of Mexico to determine spawning and migratory patterns.

Amanda Sosnowski, M.S.

My research interests focused on marine invertebrate biodiversity and population connectivity. For my Master’s research I worked with Dr. Heather Judkins and Dr. Mya Breitbart on a comparative genetics study of deep-sea cephalopods in the Gulf of Mexico.  Dr. Judkins conducts research in cephalopod systematics, abundance, and diversity in the Gulf of Mexico, while Dr. Breitbart uses molecular techniques to assess marine biodiversity, respectively. I interacted closely with both faculty members to examine intraspecies variation and population connectivity, as well as link taxonomic diagnoses with DNA barcodes. By studying the gene pool and genetic exchange of deep-sea cephalopods, my research will lend a fuller picture to the amount of gene flow amongst cephalopod species in the Gulf of Mexico.