Graduate Students

Nyssa_mainpic Nyssa Silbiger

I am broadly interested in how climate stressors impact ecosystem processes and how the relationship between climate stressors and reef processes change over space and time. My PhD dissertation is focused on 3 questions relating to the impacts of environmental variability on the accretion-erosion balance on Hawaiian coral reefs (see bioerosion tab for more info): 1) What are the baseline net erosion rates across the Hawaiian Archipelago and how do these rates change across different spatial scales (i.e. within a reef, within an island, and across the Hawaiian Archipelago), 2) what are the main environmental divers of the accretion-erosion balance on coral reefs, and 3) how will the accretion-erosion balance shift with the predicted rise in ocean acidity and sea surface temperatures?…read more.


jamie_mainpic1Jamie Sziklay

I’m interested in how infectious diseases spread within and between hosts, and I joined the Donahue lab in 2011 to research the spread of an infectious coral disease in the Hawaiian Islands called Montipora White Syndrome (MWS). In order to understand how the disease dynamics of MWS affects  individuals and populations I am using a combination of laboratory and modeling approaches. To follow the latest updates on my research check out my science blog here: Prior to joining the Donahue lab I had many great experiences conducting scientific research both in the US and abroad…read more.



ChelsieChelsie Counsell

My research interests are in the ecology and spatial dynamics of marine communities with a focus on reef fish, their predators and prey. I recently earned my Masters of Science in Ecology and Evolution from Florida State University where I was advised by Felicia Coleman and Kevin Craig. My Master’s thesis investigated how the effects of areas of low oxygen in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico propagate up through the food web to higher trophic levels…read more.





katie_picKatie Lubarsky

I am interested in how human activities affect reef dynamics, and what these changes mean for the future of the reef and for reef management. In 2011, I received a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology from UCLA where I studied the effects of nutrient and herbivory levels on algal defenses. Following graduation, I traveled to coastal Ecuador to study the effects of water quality on freshwater shrimp. Most recently, I spent a year in the Dominican Republic working on a coral gardening project aimed at restoring staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and several other community conservation initiatives…read more.




Austin Greene

I am dedicated to developing low-cost instruments which empower biologists and citizen scientists to better understand the environment at large and small spatial scales. A lifelong curiosity of the marine environment has driven my research to include intertidal population connectivity, coastal nutrient subsidy, seagrass community structuring in response to global change, patterns in seagrass habitat structure, and remote sensing. I graduated in 2014 from the University of California, Davis with a BSc in Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity and acquired my MSc in Biological Sciences in 2017 from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab on South Padre Island, TX. Before coming to Hawaii, my most recent research focused on developing low-cost side scan sonar instrumentation for the mapping of seagrass habitats, the remote acoustic estimation of carbon in marine soils beneath seagrass meadows, and the automatic recognition of patterns in side scan imagery of seagrass habitat structure. Now in pursuit of my PhD, I am studying the ecology of coral reefs, reef connectivity, and the diseases which occur on coral. For updates on my research and recent publications, please visit my poorly-maintained blog at