Graduate Programs

RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award

Standing Selection Committee:
Dave Ortiz-Suslow (chair, AMP/OCE)
Sharmila Giri (MGS)
Pete Finocchio (MPO)
Christina Pasparakis (MBE)

The 2016 RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award nomination period is CLOSED. The 2016 RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award has been conferred upon Dr. Danielle McDonald (MBE).

Effective mentoring is one of the cornerstones of a fruitful graduate student education. The annual RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes a RSMAS faculty or staff member who displays excellent mentoring qualities. The awardee receives a certificate at a school-wide reception and their name is engraved on a plaque and displayed on campus.

The award is based on graduate student nominations, which are evaluated by a Selection Committee comprised of student representatives. The current student representative to the Graduate Academic Committee chairs the award selection committee. The current recipient of the award sits on the committee and helps to select the next year’s awardee. Past recipients of the award are eligible for re-nomination after 5 years.

Current RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Awardee 

Dr. Danielle McDonald, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology (2016)
The work in my laboratory is a mixture of whole animal physiology, molecular biology, pharmacology and toxicology. Using these different approaches, I am trying to establish a greater toadfish understanding of the role of serotonin (5-HT; 5-hydroxytryptamine) within teleost fish by investigating the receptors that mediate its response and the transporters that facilitate its movement. [5-HT is] most commonly known for its role in depression, however, it has many critical functions within the body and disruptions have negative consequences: drug addiction, behavioral disorders (in addition to depression; stress, anxiety, aggression, violence) and physiological problems (cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, migraines, nausea). Another aspect of my work is looking at the impact of waterborne pharmaceuticals on physiological processes in fish. As a consequence of human consumption and inadequate sewage treatment, pharmaceuticals, such as antidepressants, which specifically inhibit 5-HT transporters, are now found in measurable quantities in some US watersheds. This work has toxicological as well as human health relevance as it gives some insight on the impact of chronic antidepressant administration, which has many negative side effects in humans. Click here for slides from my 2016 seminar on mentoring.


Previous RSMAS Outstanding Mentor Award Recipients

Dr. Amy Clement, Department of Atmospheric Sciences (2015)
My research interests focus on some fundamental questions about the behavior of the climate system. How sensitive is the Earth's climate to external forcing? Is abrupt change a characteristic of the climate? What are the mechanisms of climate change? Several of these questions arise out of the paleoclimate record. In addition to observed major swings in global ice volume over the past 600,000 years (the so-called “Ice Ages”), there are superimposed abrupt changes that can happen on the order of decades. The paleoclimate record gives us an idea of the dramatic range of climate behavior that is “natural.” To address these questions, I use mathematical models of the climate. These range in complexity from one-dimensional approximations of the climate to global, three-dimensional models (general circulation models- GCMs). My focus has generally been on the tropical coupled ocean-atmosphere system, and in particular on the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). As the largest mode of variability in the modern climate, understanding the whys and hows of past changes in (ENSO) are essential in answering fundamental questions about the behavior of the climate system, and are highly relevant for addressing the problem of how climate may change in the future. Click here for slides from my 2015 seminar on mentoring.


Dr. Martin Grossell, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology (2014)
Research activities in my laboratory include studies of comparative fish physiology and aquatic toxicology. Within comparative physiology, a particular area of interest is osmoregulation in freshwater, marine and euryhaline fish. An additional field of research is copper homeostasis in fish. Toxicity of metals to both freshwater and seawater invertebrates and fish is also at focus with special emphasis on physiological mechanisms of metal toxicity. The above research areas are pursued through whole animal studies, biochemical and electrophysiological studies on isolated tissues and organs as well as molecular techniques. Surgical procedures and isotopic techniques are employed. Click here for slides from my 2014 seminar on mentoring.