thomas miller

shadyI am interested in a variety of questions that deal with the ecology and evolution of diversity. What determines how many species are in a given habitat -- why aren't there more, or fewer? I take a very broad view of questions in this area, including field, lab, and theoretical approaches. I am currently most interested in multispecies patterns of evolution among competitors and what this might tell us about extant patterns of diversity. My lab has been using the protozoa communities inside the water-filled leaves of carnivorous pitcher plants to explore these questions. However, I also have a very different set of projects investigating the forces that structure plant communities on barrier islands.

abigail i. pastore

Abigail is a Ph.D. student interested in the evolutionary and ecological outcomes of species interactions.  Using protozoa as a model system, she is currently investigating how species may evolve to coexist with competitors through either changes in their resource use or reproductive strategy, and what is the role of phylogenetic constraint in the evolutionary response to competition? She also chronically and coincidently finds herself thinking about competition between fungi, be they lichens or mycorrhiza.  In her free time, Abigail enjoys employing ecological principles in her vegetable garden.

will H. ryan

Will ( reconciles his conflicting loves of marine  and terrestrial systems by keeping his feet firmly planted in the intertidal. His master’s project at Cal State University, Northridge measured the heritability of colony form plasticity in the hermit crab encrusting hydrozoan, Hydractinia. His dissertation research in the Miller Lab looks at how the environmentally-dependent switch between asexual and sexual life histories varies across the geographic range of a widespread, invasive sea anemone.  Despite a history of flings with and lingering curiosity about groups ranging from bryophytes to lizards to lichens, he always seems to come back to studying cnidarians – possibly because they are the most interesting group ever.  Ever! For more excitement, check out his webpages.

margaret vogel

In a broad context, Margaret ( is interested in the community dynamics and ecological processes that are occurring on a micro-scale. Her current Ph.D research blends her love of the microbial and marine worlds by investigating the relationship between epiphytic microbial communities and their seagrass host and how that relationship is modified by changes in the dynamics and composition of the microbial community. Margaret is most happy when doing field work and spends her free time exploring the waters off of the Florida Gulf Coast.

catalina cuellar-gempeler

CataCatalina is a postdoc (Ph.D. U. Texas, 2016, interested in microbial community ecology, creating amusing science songs, and generally having fun with biology.  And stuff.  For more about Catalina, her life and research, check her out  at  Or try her microbe song at

other important folks in the lab:

Jahniah Austin started in the lab washing dishes as an FSU Teach intern.  Now she is part of the protozoa counting crew. To Jahniah, it seems like she has been in school forever, but she is actually senior.  She hopes to go on for a Masters in Biology, but is still trying to decide what areas of biology are most exciting.  (What, counting protozoa isn't exciting enough?)
Tom Thornburg is a graduating senior.  He is counting the days until he gets that diploma.  Tom's current plan is to go on to something in the medical field, but is keeping his options open.  He is getting his medical assistant certification and may ultimately end up back in school for either an MD or PA.  He loved his hedgehog and sugar glider.
Jana Stevenson is a senior biology major at FSU who helps count protozoa and maintain cultures as part of ongoing research in the lab.   She is interested in pursuing something in biology, but is keeping her options open.  Jana thinks research is great and is currently doing an experiment looking at cyst formation in protozoa. Her favorite color is blue.
Brandon Boies -- Brandon Boies is in the Young Scholar Program for the Summer of 2017 from University High School. He has an obvious passion for scientific research, specifically in the fields of Biology and Environmental Science. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, playing guitar and piano, and, of course, watching Netflix. He is a fun-loving, adventure-craving Filipino who is absolutely stoked to be working with Dr. Miller and Catalina (or..err...Dr. Catalina).
John Sutor -- John Sutor is in the Young Scholar Program for the Summer of 2017 from Suncoast Community High School. He has a great interest in physics, mathematics, and ecology. Though he may appear evil, deep down he's a pretty nice guy. He is also a protozoan counter in training, under the guidance of Dr. Miller and Dr. Catalina