People

Principle Investigator

Michael J Polito, Associate Professor

Ph.D. Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Email: mpolito@lsu.edu / Phone: (225) 578-9403

Mike’s Google Scholar Page

Research Staff & Postdoctoral Researchers


  • Angela Stahl, M.S. Oceanography, University of Rhode Island: Angela manages the Isotope Ecology Laboratory. Her research interests include compound specific stable isotope analysis of amino acids and phytoplankton ecology.


  • Natalia Rosciano, Ph.D. Centro Austral de Investigaciones Cientificas, Argentina: Natalia joins us from Argentina where her postdoctoral research focuses on the feeding behavior of Kelp Gulls in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

Graduate Students


  • Sara Wang, B.S. Biology & Wildlife Conservation, University of Washington: Sara received a Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholar Fellowship. For her PhD dissertation focuses on the effects of El Niño on the foraging ecology and diet of Peruvian seabirds.


  • Katherine Loesser, B.S. Biology, University of Florida: Katherine thesis is focused on studying food web dynamics in natural and created saltmarshes in coastal Louisiana using stable isotope and functional trait analyses.


  • Seth Chapman, B.S. Natural Resource Ecology and Management, LSU: Seth's thesis is focused on linking drone / UAS imagery and stable isotope analysis in studies of food web dynamics in natural and created saltmarshes in coastal Louisiana.

Undergraduate Students

Aine O'Nuanain

Joyce Zhen

Bridget Seghers

Robert Snow

Ian Plunkett

Piper Maza

Ethan Snead

Patricia Thibodeaux

Holly Boone

Former Postdoctoral Researchers & Research Staff


  • Sydney Moyo, Ph.D. Zoology, Rhodes University: Sydney’s postdoctoral research focuses on the trophic ecology of coastal marsh food webs using biochemical tracers such as stable isotope and fatty acid analyses. He is currently an assistant professor at Rhodes College.


  • Hayat Bennadji, Ph.D. Process Engineering & Products, National Polytechnic Inst. of Lorraine: Hayat managed the Isotope Ecology Laboratory from 2019-2021. She is currently a Research Associate at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.


  • Tyler Mauney, M.S. Oceanography, Florida State University: Tyler managed the Isotope Ecology Laboratory from 2015-2016. He is currently the Laboratory Facilities Manager for the College of the Coast and Environment.

Former Graduate Students


  • Mario Hernandez, Ph.D. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2021: Mario’s dissertation research was focused on examining the links between mangroves, ecosystem services, fish and fisheries in coastal Tanzania. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at UC Merced.


  • Chantel Michelson, Ph.D. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2021: Chantel’s dissertation was focused on investigating the underlying mechanisms behind shifts in the historic diets of Antarctic penguin in concert with climate variability and anthropogenic harvesting.


  • Allyson Kristan, M.S. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2021: Ally’s thesis was focused on using a combination of trace elements and stable isotopes to examine contaminant exposure and historic population dynamics in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic penguins.


  • Keith Hernandez, Ph.D. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2020: Keith’s dissertation research was focused on refining the use of stable isotopes and prey DNA to study the diets and foraging ecology of gray seals in New England.


  • Katelyn Lamb, M.S. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2020: Katelyn’s thesis was funded by NOAA Restore Science Program to study food web dynamics in natural and created saltmarshes in coastal Louisiana.


  • Christina Powell, M.S. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2018: Christina’s thesis was funded by Louisiana Sea Grant to study the impact of climate-driven shifts in saltmarsh and mangrove vegetation on carbon flow of marsh food webs in coastal Louisiana


  • Jessica Johnson, M.S. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2017: Jessica’s thesis research focused on tracking primary production carbon sources through marsh food webs affected by the Deep-water horizon oil spill in coastal Louisiana. She is now a PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


  • Rachael Herman, M.S. Oceanography & Coastal Sciences 2016: Rachael’s thesis research focused on individual and population-level variation in the foraging ecology of Gentoo penguins along a latitudinal gradient in the Scotia Arc. She is now a PhD student at Stony Brook University.

Former Guest Students

  • Ulises Balza, Guest Ph.D. Student - Centro Austral de Investigaciones Cientificas, Argentina: Ulises joined us from Argentina where his dissertation research focused on the ecology and diets of Striated Caracaras on Isla de los Estados, Argenitina

  • Nicolás Lois, Guest Ph.D. Student - Centro Austral de Investigaciones Cientificas, Argentina: Nico joined us from Argentina where his dissertation research focused on the trophic niche and population genetics of Southern Rockhopper Penguins.

  • Fernanda Valls, Guest Ph.D. Student - Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brazil: Fernanda joined us from Brazil where her research focuses on the foraging ecology of Adelie, Chinstrap, Gentoo & Macaroni Penguins in the South Shetland Islands.

  • Natalia Rosciano, Guest Ph.D. Student - Centro Austral de Investigaciones Cientificas, Argentina: Natalia joined us from Argentina where her dissertation research focuses on the feeding behavior of Magellanic Penguin and Rockhopper penguins in Tierra del Fuego.

Former Undergraduate Students

Madison Seymour, Joshua Nammo, Ella Cochran , Tarun Kakarala , Claire Burrow, Mounina Abderrahmane, Allison Benelli, Elana Boardman, Thinh Huynh, Rohit Kalvakaalva, Katerine Kjos, Amina Meselhe, Joseph Winston, Don de Mahy, Brandeus Davis, Devin Comba, Gourav Divan, and Courtney Murr