Opportunities in the Castillo Lab

Postdocs are encouraged to contact Dr. Castillo to discuss research ideas and funding opportunities that are available at Carolina and from external sources. You should also communicate with current postdocs about their experiences here in the Marine Sciences Department at UNC.

Potential graduate students should email Dr. Castillo to discuss their research ideas and interests and to explore funding opportunties. Graduate students can apply either to the 
Marine Sciences Department or the Curriculum for Environment and Ecology.

Undergraduate students should contact Dr. Castillo to discuss their research interests.
Undergraduate researchers can register for MASC 395, or they can apply to the
IDEA or SURF program.

Current lab members



Dr. Karl D. Castillo, Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor, Marine Sciences Department University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2012 - present)

Postdoc, UNC-Chapel Hill (2012; supervisors, Justin Ries/John Bruno)
Ph.D., University of South Carolina (2008; supervisor, Brian Helmuth)
M.S., University of South Carolina (2003; supervisor, Brian Helmuth)
B.S., Southeast Missouri State University (1998; supervisors, Adelaide Parsons and Margaret Waterman)

Curriculum Vitae



Dr. Sarah W. Davies, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Sarah is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Castillo lab. She completed her B.Sc. in Biology at The University of Victoria, Canada in 2004, her M.Sc. in Marine Sciences at The University of Calgary in 2009, and her Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at The University of Texas at Austin in 2014. She is largely interested in the factors that influence species ranges and species’ potential for adaptation, acclimatization, or dispersal to new habitats in the face of climate change. Her work at UNC focuses on understanding the transcriptomic responses of coral host and symbionts to ocean warming and acidification. She is co-supervised by Dr. Karl Castillo, Dr. Adrian Marchetti, and Dr. Justin Ries (Northeastern University).

Contact info:


Justin Baumann, Ph. D. Student

Justin is a PhD student in the Castillo lab. He completed his B.S. in Biology and Earth Sciences at Ohio State University in 2011, and his M.S. in Earth Sciences also at Ohio State in 2013. His previous work has been on coral physiology including the response of corals to stressors such as ocean warming and ocean acidification. His proposed research will investigate thermal history, susceptibility and resilience of several species of Caribbean corals across a latitudinal gradient on the Belize Barrier Reef System. He co-founded and helps manage the UNC-MASC graduate student blog: underthecblog.wordpress.com

Contact info: Justin Baumann

Clare Fieseler, Ph. D. Student

Clare is a Ph.D. student in the Castillo Lab studying coral reef resilience and marine management discourse. Her interdisciplinary dissertation research is made possible through UNC's Curriculum for the Environment & Ecology. Prior to attending UNC, she completed a masters at Duke University and a bachelors at Georgetown University. Her dissertation research in funded through the Nature Conservancy and the National Geographic Society. She is highly involved in science communication, drawing from her past employment in natural history filmmaking and her current freelance science reporting for public radio. Clare is the co-founder and current director of Scientist with Stories, a non-profit that trains scientists to communicate with the public through narrative. She often blogs at blogs.nationalgeographic.com. She is co-supervised by Dr. Karl Castillo and Dr. Jaye Cable.

Contact info: Clare Fieseler 
cfieseler@unc.edu; Website: www.cfieseler.com   


John P. Rippe, Ph. D. Student

J.P. is a PhD student in the Castillo Lab. His previous education was at the University of Virginia, where he earned his B.S. in Environmental Sciences and B.A. in Biology with specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation. While an undergraduate, he conducted research on the hydrodynamic effects of turf algae coral metabolic activity. His proposed work will focus on phase shift ecology and resilience in coral reef systems and the incorporation of these variables in conservation strategies.

Contact info:
John P. Rippe

Colleen Bove
Ph. D. Student
Colleen is a Ph.D. student in the Castillo lab in the Curriculum for the Environment & Ecology. She completed her B.S. in Marine Biology and a minor in Chemistry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Throughout her undergraduate research, she studied the physiological response of corals to reduced seawater pH with the use of microelectrodes. Her current research focuses on the response of several Caribbean corals to climate-induced ocean warming and acidification by looking into physiological, genetic, and skeletal variations.

Contact info: Colleen Bove

Email: colbrynn@email.unc.edu

Hannah Aichelman
, Lab Manager

Hannah graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in May 2014 with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Marine Science. She worked in the Castillo Lab her senior year but left after graduation to work as a deckhand and an environmental science educator on board the S/V Denis Sullivan. She is now back in Chapel Hill working as the lab manager for the Castillo Lab. She is also working on a project concerning how thermal stress and feeding impact the growth of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula.

Contact info: hannahaichelman@gmail.com
Website: https://hannahaichelman.wordpress.com

Kathryn Cobleigh, Lab Technician

Kathryn graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in May of 2015 with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Marine Science. She has worked in the Castillo Lab as an undergraduate researcher since Fall 2012. She has been involved with the Castillo Lab's ongoing coral coring project, focusing mostly on quantifying skeletal density and extension and calcification rates rates of forereef, backreef, and nearshore corals. Currently, is working as our lab technician but quantifying differences in the skeletal structure for corals exposed to a range of temperature and pCO2 treatments.

Jessica Boulton, Undergraduate Researcher

Jess is a sophomore undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill, and she is pursuing a Biology major with a  Marine Sciences minor. She joined the Castillo Lab in the Spring of 2014, and is returning after a semester at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City NC. Jess was involved with the maintenance and function of the Aquarium Research Center, as well as with a project investigating the effects of temperature and feeding regimes on Oculina arbuscula. Jess is responsible for updates to the Castillo lab website, and will be assisting Kathryn Cobb and Sarah Davies this semester.


Joseph Townsend, Undergraduate Researcher

Joe is a senior Biology and Communications major with a Marine Sciences minor. He joined the Castillo lab in the summer of 2014 and has been involved with a variety of projects around the lab, including feeding experiments, field site surveys, and the renovation and maintenance of the Aquarium Research Center. He is currently conducting an experiment exploring the effect of high nutrient and low salinity pulses on coral physiological response. Joe also has an interest in photo and video documentary, and is currently working on a documentary project around a recent field expedition to Belize.

Alyssa Knowlton
, Undergraduate Researcher

Alyssa is a sophomore Biology major and Marine Sciences minor.  She started working in Castillo Lab Spring of 2015 volunteering as an undergraduate researcher.  Currently she is doing various things around the lab such as helping out with quantifying the surface area of corals.  As the semester continues she will begin to help with the project of extracting DNA from the corals.  Diver, probably internship with sea turtles, maybe planning grad school in marine science.

  Daphne De Leener
, Undergraduate Researcher

Daphne is a senior pursuing a major in Environmental Science and a minor in  Marine Science and Geography. She started working in the Castillo lab as an undergraduate researcher in the Fall of 2014. She is currently quantifying coral linear extension, skeletal density, and calcification rates for coral collected from Florida, Belize, and Panama.

Lauren Speare,
Undergraduate Researcher

Lauren is a senior Environmental Science major with minors in Marine Science and Biology. She joined the Castillo Lab in the Spring of 2015. She is currently working on a project examining bacterial community composition on corals from distinct thermal environments across the Belize Barrier Reef System to better understand how species-level differences may affect overall coral physiology. 

Logan Buie, Undergraduate Researcher

Logan is a junior pursuing a B.S. in Biology and minor in Marine Sciences and Gender Studies. She began working in the Castillo Lab in the summer of 2015 and has assisted with the extraction of DNA from coral samples from Florida, Belize, and Panama. Currently, she is working on a project that utilizes genetics analysis to classify and quantify plankton communities on various coral reef systems.



Emma Railey, High School Researcher

Emma is a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham. She is participating in research in the Castillo  Lab through the Mentorship Program sponsored by her school. Currently, she is quantifying bleaching levels, at multiple 30-day observation intervals, for four Caribbean coral species reared at various temperature and pCO2 levels.

Former lab members
Pualani Armstrong 
Carissa Campbell     
Travis Courtney Elaine Chow
Risa Dalsing    Blake Elder
Ashley Fogel    
 James Paige
Jamie Matos Netti McMiller
Kruti Patel Deepti Schroff
Kirsten Spencer Rafaela Vendrametto Granzotti
Richard Yost II   James Paige

© 2015 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill   
Maintained by K. D. Castillo and Jessica Boulton
   Last Updated - October 2015