Meet the Team

Valerie Miranda

Valerie is a Marine Biology graduate student at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. She’s from El Paso, TX and received her B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, TX. As an undergrad she worked in the Neuroscience Lab with California sea-slugs, Aplysia californica, investigating the link between fear and appetite. She also spent her time volunteering at the Texas State Aquarium with birds and mammals. She is currently working as a research assistant in the Deep Sea Biology Laboratory under Dr. Frank. Her thesis research is investigating the abundance and diversity of deep-sea crustaceans from Bear Seamount of the New England Seamount Chain, an extinct underwater volcano in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Seamounts provide a hard substrate, enhanced currents and enriched productivity for many benthic and pelagic species, making them hotspots for diversity. Her future goals are to continue working with deep-sea organisms and studying the importance of the pelagic realm.


Ryan Bos

Ryan is pursuing an M.S. in marine biology at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. He received a B.S. in Marine Science with biological emphasis and Leadership Distinction in Research from the University of South Carolina. He is particularly interested in toxicology and polymer science, specifically, the organics that adhere to marine debris and the deleterious effects exerted by these chemicals. Currently, Ryan is working on a trophic study emphatic of microplastics in deep-sea shrimps and fishes. The study aims to show the connectivity between deep pelagic assemblages and the epipelagic while elucidating the transfer of microplastics in marine food webs.


Devan Nichols

I am a graduate student at Nova Southeastern University currently working in Dr. Frank’s deep sea laboratory as a part of the DEEPEND project. I am studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on a specific family of deep sea shrimp known as Oplophoridae. The purpose of my research is to determine if the oil spill, had any impact on oplophorid shrimp biomass, abundance and assemblage. The samples I will be analyzing were collected in both the spring and fall of 2011, 2015 and 2016. I will be comparing data from these three years to determine if there are any visible long term effects from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on population dynamics, as well as determine if specific species are seasonal reproducers. There is not a lot of information known on how oil spills impact the deep sea, and this study aims to aid in our understanding of how these deep-pelagic communities may be impacted, as well as to study their level of extant and potential future recovery.


Charles Fine

Charlie is a Marine Biology graduate student at the Guy Harvey Research Institute, Halmos College of Natural Science and Oceanography, and Nova Southeastern University. He works in the Deep Sea Biology Laboratory at NSU's Oceanographic center as the world leading expert in Euphausiacea. He currently works on specimens collected from the Gulf of Mexico, where he is determining the effects that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had on euphausiid assemblages. Born and raised in Coral Springs, Florida, he decided to expand his education by attending the prestigious Allegheny College in PA on a baseball scholarship, where he majored in Biology. His love for marine wildlife and a close encounter with a 10 foot bull shark when he was a child drove him to a career in the marine biology field.


Ron Sieber

Ronald is a Marine Biology graduate student at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. He’s from Culpeper, VA and received his BS in Integrative Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. As an undergrad he worked under the supervision of Dr. Burke and assisted the Nature Conservancy’s studies of the Chesapeake Bay oyster, Crassostrea virginica, determining the most efficient substrate type to utilize in future restoration efforts. He is currently working as a research assistant in the Deep Sea Biology Laboratory under Dr. Frank. His thesis research is investigating the abundance and diversity of a deep-sea shrimp family, Benthesicymidae, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This study will provide baseline data in this region from which the populations of Benthesicymidae could be monitored in the future. His future goals are to continue on to a doctorate and work more with fisheries and conservatory efforts.


Jamie Sickles

I am handling the physiological and histological studies that will interpret the bioluminescence and light detection capabilities of the chosen crustaceans from the deep-sea. Understanding bioluminescence and photosensitivity between species will be achieved through the investigation of the ultrastructure of the photophores. Photophores from the limbs, antennal scale, uropods, cephalothorax, and abdomen will be tested and observed from all of the specimens provided in this research. Through the comparison of these structures, we intend to gain more knowledge of the complex traits and behaviors that are associated with the evolution of bioluminescence that has led to species survival in the deep-sea