Lab Members

The people that have worked, volunteered, and studied in the Martyniuk Lab – past and present. We build on their knowledge, dedication and hard work. We truly function as a team and are always looking for enthusiastic, curious, motivated individuals to join us!

Principle Investigator: Dr. Christopher Martyniuk

Drs. Martyniuk and Liang in Inner Mongolia, China.


Graduate Students

Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins MS, PhD candidate

Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins’ research interests range from wildlife ecology and conservation to ecotoxicology and endocrine disruption. Her Masters research was focused on FL manatee reproductive physiology through measurement and analysis of plasma lipid and hormone composition and concentration. This research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and she hopes these data will move FL manatee reproductive physiology forward. Elizabeth also investigated the use of probiotic treatments to prevent outbreaks of a bacterial pathogen in the ornamental fish industry. This manuscript is in progress and will be submitted for publication this year! Now, Elizabeth is Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physiology in the College of Vet Med. Her Ph.D. dissertation involves conservation physiology, ecotoxicology, and immune health research in the FL manatee and pinfish. Elizabeth’s career goal is to investigate and develop solutions to reproductive challenges faced by threatened or endangered species through research at a zoological institute or governmental scientific agency. Elizabeth spends her free time playing with her Australian shepherd, hanging out with friends, remodeling her house, and exploring FL nature!

Amany Sultan MS, PhD, Visiting Scholar

Dr. Sultan is a visiting scholar from Egypt who completed her MS and PhD degrees in toxicology. Dr. Sultan completed a Master’s degree on the toxicological effects of synthetic testosterone (Boldenone undecylenate). In her PhD she studied Curcuma longa as a natural herb for protection against insecticide mixtures (organophosphate insecticide fenitrothion and the pyrethroid deltamethrin). Now, Dr. Sultan is working in the Martyniuk Lab with PFAS chemicals and investigating the neurobehavioral changes and molecular pathways using a zebrafish model. Her future professional goal is to become an expert in different branches of toxicology and advance my career. A broader goal that she is passionate about is to contribute to environmental sustainability and natural alternatives to synthetic products. When Dr. Sultan is not doing novel research she spends time with her family, cooking, walking in nature and traveling!

Farewell, Nazish!

DVM Students

Sasha Spada-O’Neill

Nirali Pathak

I am a 3rd year veterinary student (Class of 2025) at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. I am interested in Small Animal Medicine, especially surgery and internal medicine. After graduating from veterinary school, I plan on completing a small animal rotating internship and residency program in surgery or internal medicine. In the Summer of 2022, I worked in the Martyniuk Lab as a Florida Veterinary Scholar studying gene editing for Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dobermans. I gained valuable experience during the summer and presented my findings at two conferences, coming in 1st place for the DVM Poster Competition at the UFCVM Phi Zeta Celebration! Outside of veterinary medicine, I love to read, draw and paint, travel, and spend time with friends and family. 

Undergraduate Students

Janie Huai

I am a second-year majoring in Biology on the Pre-pharmacy track. I am driven by a deep interest in the intersections between healthcare and science. I am committed to pursuing a career in pharmacy and am preparing myself by setting a resilient foundation in the areas of science. For my upcoming project I will be working under Dr. Martyniuk to study the behavioral and genetic effects of the anti-psychotic Flupentixol on zebrafish. 

Michelle Puerta

I am a second-year student majoring in Animal Sciences with a specialization in Animal Biology and a minor in Hearing and Deaf Sciences. I am currently on a pre-veterinary track with hopes to become a veterinary surgeon but currently have been exploring to become a mixed animal veterinarian. Outside of academics, I’m currently the vice president of the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club, a council member of the RecSports Student Leadership Council, a Sports Programs supervisor for RecSports, play on various intramural sport teams and love to volunteer at various shelter and general veterinary practices around Gainesville and back at home!

Camilo Escobar

I am currently a 3rd year Pre-Professional Biology major with an Economics Minor on a Pre-Med track. At the Lab, I utilize zebrafish larvae to examine the toxicity associated with per-fluorinated compounds – namely PFTDA. I also explore the relationship between circadian rhythm biochemical pathways and mice physiology at another lab in the UF College of Medicine. Aside from school and other club/volunteer/work extracurriculars, I like to weight-lift, cook, travel, and explore music. I also regularly play soccer and serve as a volunteer-coach for special-needs soccer players every week!

Hailey Skaggs

I am a second-year student majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Sociology on the Pre-Medical track. Following the completion of an undergraduate education, I plan to pursue an M.D. as I have had a long-pursued dream of becoming a surgeon. The research I partake in is focused on the impact of environmental effects and various chemicals on the development of zebrafish larvae. Outside of research, I am involved in various student-run organizations around the UF campus, like Girls Empowered by Math and Science, Delta Delta Delta St. Jude Philanthropy Chair, volunteering at Shands and Project Downtown, Dance Marathon, and I am a CLAS mentor. 

Phyllis Wah

I am a 1st year animal science major with a specialization in animal biology. I am also planning on double minoring in chemistry and zoology. I am in pre-vet track and have been dreaming of becoming a wildlife surgeon since I was 4. I joined Dr. Martyniuk’s laboratory to use zebrafish as a model to investigate how environmental contaminants affect aquatic animals in Florida. Fun fact about me: I can speak 4 languages and I have been to 21 countries outside of America!!

Grace Schuppie

I am a junior majoring in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. I am currently assisting Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins with her research examining the effects of brevetoxins in pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides). Outside of academics, I enjoy spending time outdoors, playing music, and reading. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school studying wildlife ecology. Professionally, I hope to become an Assistant Wildlife Biologist with The Wildlife Society. 

Allison Wetmore

I’m a fourth-year marine science major on the premed track. I’m currently working on a project examining the effects of brevetoxins produced by Karenia brevis, the marine dinoflagellate responsible for Florida red tide, on the fecal microbiome of pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides). In my free time, I love surfing, hammocking, and playing with my dog.   

Anna Sellitto

I am a fourth-year student in Animal Sciences with a focus on Animal Biology. The research I am working on is marine toxicology under Dr. Christopher Martyniuk and Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins. My professional goal is to become an emergency veterinarian. I also plan to open a non-profit rescue shelter that provides free basic healthcare to animals of low-income and homeless veterans. For fun, I do CrossFit and weightlifting! 

Adriana Tirendi

I am a third-year student majoring in Biochemistry on the Pre-Veterinary track. Following the completion of an undergraduate education, I plan to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine. The research I will soon partake in will be focused on the impact of environmental effects on the development of zebrafish larvae. Outside of research, I am involved in various student-run organizations around the UF campus, like the Professional Student Organization, the Pre-Veterinary Club, and the Chemistry Club.  

Victoria Lopez-Scarim

I am a third-year student majoring in applied biology. My current research project involves comparing biomarker responses of zebrafish exposed to individual priority PFAS compounds, simple mixtures, and environmental PFAS mixtures. Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time outdoors with friends. After completing my undergraduate studies, I hope to attend a PhD program. 

Mark K.

My name is Mark and I’m an undergraduate student in my third year. I am researching the effects of fluorotelomer phosphate monoester, a common PFA on zebrafish. I have also been working on a review paper compiling all of the currently available information on how PFHxA and PFHxS affect fish. In my free time I enjoy running, weightlifting, and reading.

Lev Avidan

I am currently a sophomore biology major on the pre-med track. Within the laboratory, I am studying the effects of PFAS on zebrafish (such as PFNA, PFESA, and PFUDA). Outside of the classroom, I am also a Patient Transporter at Shands, a Standardized Patient at the UFCOM, and an intern at the Alachua County Teen Court Program. Within my free time, some of my hobbies include working out, cooking, and maximizing credit card/airline reward points to fly for free.


Ciara Saccente

Hello! My name is Ciara Saccente. I am a freshman at UF studying Biology and hope to be a physician one day. I am from Deltona, FL & I love swimming, going to the beach, and spending quality time with friends/family. Fun fact: I am a certified advanced open water scuba diver and have been diving since I was 10 years old! 


Abby Needles

Hello! My name is Abby Needles, and I am a first-year wildlife ecology and conservation major. I’m currently working on perfecting microbiome techniques in preparation for Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins’s study examining the effects of brevetoxins on pinfish. In my free time, I love to read, paint, listen to music, and spend time with my friends and family.


 Evelyn Henry

I am a second-year marine sciences major and I hope to attend veterinary school after graduation. For my research project, I am studying the effects of 5-fluoruracil, an antineoplastic chemical, on the development and behavior of zebrafish embryos and larvae. In my free time, I enjoy dancing, baking, and spending time with my friends and family.


 Cole English

I am a first-year student in pursuit of an undergraduate education in animal science with a specialization in animal biology. Following the completion of an undergraduate education, I intend to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine with a certificate in aquatic animal medicine with the final resolve to function occupationally as a physician-scientist. Through extracurricular involvement within the Martyniuk laboratory, my research is concerned with the effects of environmental stimulants on the molecular networks that characterize physiological, phenotypic, and locomotor changes in zebrafish larvae. Extraneous to the academic domain, I enjoy playing the piano, reading, and being outdoors.


Neep Patel

I’m a third-year student majoring in biology and on the pre-medical track. I am currently investigating the physiological and neurological effects of Perfluorotetradecanoic acid on the development of zebrafish larvae. Additionally, I plan on going into gene expression analysis and utilizing it as another measure of toxicity. Outside of research, I am involved with UMatter, We Care as an ambassador and treasurer alongside being in various premedical-based organizations. My hobbies include watching sports, playing video games, and collecting sneakers.


Madeline McCoy

Hello! My name is Madeline McCoy and I am a Zoology major on the pre-vet track. I hope to become a wildlife veterinarian after I graduate from UF. My research involves measuring physiological indicators of stress and reproduction to assess reproductive health in wild Florida manatees. Outside of school, I enjoying fencing and volunteering at the local animal shelter.

Kira Kazi!

Kira Kazi

I am a second-year microbiology major minoring in theatre and English. For my research project, I am studying the effects of citalopram, an SSRI often used for treating depression, on zebrafish larvae and embryos. In my free time, I love to read, sing, perform, and spend time with friends and family! After earning my undergraduate degree, I hope to attend medical school.


Angel Biju

I am a second-year student majoring in Biology on the Pre-Medical track. Currently, I am researching how the anti-anxiety medication Buspirone affects Zebrafish development and behavior. Outside of the lab, I enjoy reading, playing piano, and hanging out with friends in my free time. In the future, I hope to attend Medical School and become a physician.


Taylor Casine

I am a third-year biology major minoring in leadership on a Pre-Vet track. Since I can remember, I have always felt a strong connection to the natural world which has inspired my love for animals and respect for the environment. My work in the Martyniuk Lab is focused on assessing the impact that various environmental contaminants have on the thyroid hormonal systems of animals, like zebrafish. Outside of the lab and school, I devote my time to helping organizations that protect animals and promote conservation. Some of my volunteer work includes caring for small animals as an assistant veterinary technician at the Humane Society, teaching people about wildlife and the importance of conservation as a docent at a local zoo, and running a small, non-profit business that benefits animal rescue organizations. In the future, I hope to become a veterinarian so that I can help animals when they are sick, as well as benefit their owners by teaching them how to properly care for their pets.

Former Members

The Martyniuk lab has hosted several FVSP students over the years. Check out this CVM video on the program.


Dr. Kit Souders

Kit’s research interests range from hypertension, mitochondrial bioenergetics, and zebrafish behavior, while his current projects include in vitro and in vivo xenobiotic and endogenous chemical exposures, followed by high throughput experiments to assess primarily mitochondrial and metabolic endpoints. These include a variety of microplate based assays, Seahorse Bioanalyzer-based metabolic profiling experiments, as well as behavioral zebrafish assays using a Daniovision observation chamber. Kit finds the discovery component of science to be particularly rewarding as well as the thought and care that goes into designing experiments and communicating results. Over the past 5 years he has contributed data to over 30 scientific publications and hopes to publish many more! In his free time, Kit likes to garden, draw, read, and play with his daughter, Miriam.

Some of our favorite “Kit-isms”:

  • “How significantly do tadpoles change?” “Just a tad” “Hop skip and a jump” “Toadily”
  • “Committee meetings, all I can say is that you’re more afraid of them than they are of you!”
  • “On your mind like meningitis”


Veronica Perez-Rodriguez

Veronica’s graduate work focused on studying pesticides and other drugs. Her work consisted on exposing zebrafish embryos at different life stages to determine the sub-lethal effects of chemicals during key phases of  development. She obtained a B.S. in Biology Cum laude honors with distinction from the University of Florida in 2017, a Masters in Veterinary Medical Sciences with a concentration in Toxicology from the University of Florida in 2019 and is a DVM Candidate at UF CVM. Some honors or awards include: University of Florida International Center Certificate of Excellence 2018, VGSA Inman Student Travel Award, Graduate Student Council Student Travel Award, SETAC Student Travel Award, Graduate Student Research Symposium – 3rd place qualified to represent UF at Graduate Schools statewide Symposium.  Her research interests include: Aquatic Toxicology, Fish Physiology, Ecotoxicogenomics, transcriptomics , Endocrine Disruption, Mitochondrial disruption. Congratulations on getting into Vet School, Veronica!!!

David Dreier


David Dreier was a Ph.D. student co-supervised by Drs. Chris Martyniuk and Nancy Denslow at the University of Florida. He was a Graduate Research Fellow of the National Science Foundation, where his research focused on developing adverse outcome pathways for multiple stressors in fish. David was also a distinguished graduate of Baylor University, where he held a Greater Research Opportunity Fellowship with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. From this experience, David’s research also leveraged emerging high-throughput, omics-based methods to assess the effects of environmental contaminants on the environment. His research has won several awards, including the F. Ray Wilson II Award for Best Thesis in the Physical and Life Sciences at Baylor University and the Foster (Sonny) Mayer Best Ph.D. Platform Presentation at SETAC North America. David has also been an active SETAC member and has served on the Board of Directors as Chair of the North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC). In his free time, David enjoys trail running and playing the saxophone. Congratulations on getting a job at Syngenta, David!!!

Former Visiting Domestic & International Students

Visiting Research Scholars

Isaac Konig

Isaac Konig

I am a PhD student in agricultural chemistry in Brazil and a visiting scholar at Martyniuk Lab. My project aims to compare the toxicity of carvacrol, carvacryl acetate and fipronil using zebra fish as a model.

During my masters in health sciences, I applied sublethal concentrations of carvacryl acetate to control the reproduction of ticks. The experiments showed that a single chemical modification in the structure of carvacrol, a natural compound extracted from oregano, was able to considerably enhance its biocidal activity against ticks. My goal now is to evaluate the toxicity of carvacrol and its derivative and compare with a commercially available acaricide to determine whether or not the natural based compound is safe for field applications. I am learning new techniques and refining my research skills at Martyniuk Lab. In my free time, I am going to as many Christmas parties as possible =D I also like to listen to music and
hang out with friends.


Nazish Iftikhar, 2021-2022

Institute of Environmental Sciences and Engineering,
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
National University of Sciences and Technology,
Sector H-12, Islamabad 44000, Pakistan


Shuo Wang, 2019-2020

State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of
Wetland Ecology and Vegetation Restoration,
School of Environment,
Northeast Normal University,
Changchun, China

Chi Wei (Terry), 2019-2020

College of Fisheries
Huazhong Agricultural University
Habei Province, China

Yohana M. Velasco-Santamaria, DVM, MSc, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fulbright Scholar
Leader of Research Group in Aquatic and Environmental Biotechnology and Toxicology – BioTox
Coordinator of the Laboratory of Toxicology and Biotechnology
Coordinator of Nodo Llanos – Red Colombiana de Mujeres Científicas

Hebatallah Mahgoub, PhD, MVSc, BVSc

Post-Doctoral Fulbright Scholar
Pathology Department
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Mansoura University, Egypt​


Tao Huang, 2018-2019

Northeast Normal University
Changchun, China​

Lihua Yang

Lihua Yang (PhD), 2018-2019

Institute of Hydrobiology
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Wuhan, China


Xujia Zhang, 2018-2019

fangjie cao

Fangjie Cao, 2017-2018

Ondřej Adamovský

Ondřej Adamovský, 2016-2018

Xuefang Liang, 2017-2018


Ling Zhao (Linda), 2017-2018

Hua Qing

Hua Qing, 2017-2018 

Hong Wang

Hong Wang, 2016-2017

Wendi Malphurs

Wendi Malphurs, Former Lab Manager

Nader El Ahmadie

Nader El Ahmadie, Former Lab Manager

Jordan Schmidt

Jordan Schmidt, Former Lab Manager

  • 2016                Dillon Da Fonte (Ph.D. student with collaborator Dr. Vance Trudeau). Thesis Research: Regulation of aromatase in goldfish radial glial cells by secretoneurin. Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, CAN.
  • 2015 David Bertolatus (PhD with collaborator Dr. Alan Vajda). Thesis Research: Impacts of municipal effluent and chemistry in the fathead minnow. Department of Integrative Biology University of Colorado, Denver.
  • 2015                Lei Xing (Ph.D. student with collaborator Dr. Vance Trudeau). Thesis Research: Regulation of aromatase in goldfish radial glial cells by dopamine. Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, CAN.
  • 2015                Carla Paixao (Undergraduate student). Brazil Scientific Mobility Program of the Brazilian Government. The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the contractual administrative agency for this program.
  • 2015                Patrijia Marjan (Ph.D. candidate with collaborator Dr. Mark Servos). Thesis Research: Emerging environmental stressors of anthropogenic origin in waste water effluent from the Grand River: Endocrine disruption in rainbow darter. Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Ont., CAN
  • 2015                Meghan Fuzzen (Ph.D. candidate with collaborator Dr. Mark Servos). Thesis Research: Determining the link between individual and population level effects of municipal wastewater effluent on rainbow darters. Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Ont., CAN
  • 2015                Sofía Enrigue Peñaloza (undergraduate student). Department of Biotechnology, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City.
  • 2015                Mariana González Medina (undergraduate student). Faculty of Chemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico, MX.
  • 2013              Anny Berenisse Sánchez Garayzar (Ph.D. candidate). Thesis Research: Immunotoxic effects of the pesticide chlorothalonil in fish (Danio rerio) and crustaceans (Litopenaeus vannamei). Department of Ecotoxicology, Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A.C. MX.
  • 2013               Mónica Ruiz Rosario (undergraduate student). Thesis Research: The effects of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon phenanthrene on fathead minnow embryo survival and development. Department: Faculty of Chemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico, MX.

Past Graduate Students

  • 2014-2018       David Dreier (PhD student) (co-supervised). Thesis: Advancing Adverse Outcome Pathways for Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Multiple Stressors in Fish
  • 2012-2017       Jennifer Loughery (PhD student, UNB) (supervised). Thesis: Systems biology approach for studying the impacts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on fish: Implication for Canadian oil sands extraction
  • 2014-2016       Kathleena Sarty (MSc Student, UNB) (co-supervised). Thesis: Zebrafish as an in vitro model for natural product chemistry
  • 2013-2015       Rosalinda Kan (MSc Student, UNB) (supervised). Thesis: The effects of selenium on the metabolism of rainbow trout: Implications for environmental monitoring of metal mining.
  • 2012-2015       Andrew Cowie (MSc Student, UNB) (supervised). Thesis: Exploitation of OMICS data using semantic automated discovery and integration (SADI) web services for fish toxicology.
  • 2010-2014       Paulina Bahamonde (PhD student, UNB) (co-supervised). Thesis: Molecular tools to study the impacts of municipal wastewater in the Grand River, Ontario
  • 2010-2012       Anna Ornostay (MSc student) (supervised). Thesis: The effects of the ureic-based herbicide linuron in the fathead minnow.
  • 2010-2012       Meghan Doyle (MSc student) (co-supervised). Thesis: The effects of ethinylestradiol (EE2) on molecular signalling cascades in the mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus)

Past Undergraduate Students

Former Lab members not pictured:

  • Isabel Daher
  • Christine Larrea
  • Bisma Masudi
  • Anna Yoon
  • Ashley Baker
  • Jovina Martinez
  • Edward Shontz
  • Jonna Boyda
  • Kaley Knapp
  • Yasmin Chishti
  • Rick Wood
  • Kathleena Sarty
  • Ashely Eadie
  • Emma Crowley
  • Scott Goudreau
  • Laurett Nwaonumah
  • Katie Biggs
  • Nicole Chaisson
  • Lillian Fanjoy
  • Andrea Gamble
  • Ryan Sherrard
  • Brittany Chown
  • Jason Seidel
  • Mohammad Zeino
  • Lacey Haddon
  • Jinying Sun
  • Feng Tang
  • Alejandro De La Cova
  • Joshua Guzman
  • Naomi Ector
  • Natalie Crespo
  • Sho Sohag