Skip to content


Neel Aluru

Neel Aluru

My research interests are mainly focused in the field of Environmental Epigenetics. I am particularly interested in understanding the epigenetic processes involved in determining phenotypic (and/or developmental) plasticity.

My research is aimed at exploring these mechanisms in aquatic organisms that display plasticity in response to variety of environmental cues. In addition, I am interested in investigating the role of different epigenetic mechanisms of action associated with long-term effects of exposure to stressors, especially during early development. I use a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate model systems (Zebrafish, Atlantic killifish, Daphnia spp.) and employ a number of different molecular biology methods –gene-specific to high-throughput sequencing to study epigenetic modes of action.

Read more

Overall, I strive to understand the fundamental mechanisms that provide animals the ability to cope with environmental and anthropogenic stressors.

Dr. Christopher Murray

Chris is an integrative fish biologist who studies how marine fish will cope with the rapid and simultaneous changes in their environment caused by global and regional anthropogenic impacts. He uses experimental tools from the fields of ecophysiology and molecular ecology to measure bioenergetic, biochemical, and transcriptional responses elicited by environmental stressors. His current research is funded by an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology where he is exploring the mechanisms of multi-generational plasticity (transcriptional and epigenetic) of early life exposure to the combined effects of acidification and hypoxia in a coastal forage fish species.

Jordan Pitt

Jordan Pitt

Jordan obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her undergraduate work focused on the toxicity of nanoplastics to fish. In 2018, she joined the Aluru and Hahn lab. As a NSF graduate research fellow, she will continue studying the mechanisms by which pollutants affect vertebrates. More specifically, she is going to examine how microplastics affect marine organisms.


Alia Hidayat

Alia did her undergraduate work at the University of Washington, receiving a B.S. in Molecular Biology with a minor in Marine Biology. She joined the Aluru lab in 2017 and is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow. She currently studies the effects of algal toxins on the central nervous system. She is particularly interested in how microglia – the immune cells of the brain – can mediate effects that last well into an individual’s lifetime.

Read more

Alia is also passionate about bringing science into the community through education and communication. As part of this effort, she teaches science lessons in local classrooms and helps run the Broader Impacts Group at WHOI, a student group dedicated to supporting science outreach.

Alia’s work is part of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health (WHCOOH).

Alumni: Graduate Students


Jennifer Panlilio

Jenny studied the effects of harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins on the developing nervous system. Exposure to HAB toxins occur mainly through eating contaminated seafood. While there are regulations that exist to prevent exposure to high doses, seafood is still harvested and consumed with measurable levels of toxins. Using zebrafish, Jenny aimed to identify potential mechanisms by which low doses of the harmful algal bloom toxin, domoic acid can affect circuit formation and behavioral responses. To accomplish this, she used zebrafish as tool to track neurons during development and record whole brain neural activity in living larvae.

Jenny’s work is part of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health (WHCOOH)

Jenny is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Burgess Lab at the National Institutes of Health.

Past members

Postdoctoral Scholar

Lilah Glazer (Currently a Biology Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London), 2013-2015

Research Assistants

Sara Mindek (UConn Avery Point), 2017-Present

Veronica De Pascuale (Oberlin College), 2018-2019

Helena McMonagle (Wellesley College; Currently an RA in the Llopiz lab), 2017-2018

Keegan Krick (UMass Boston; Currently a technical assistant in the Burge Lab at MIT), 2015-2016 and Dec.-Jan 2017

Zach Mickiewicz (UMass Dartmouth; Currently a Direct Support Professional at Community Systems,Inc), 2014-2016

Matt Schetne (Currently a Research Assistant at Boston Children’s Hospital), 2013-2014

Gale Clark, 2012-2013

Undergraduate Students

Adriane McDonald (Spelman College), 2018 Summer Student Fellow

Ch’ng Chin Chin (Currently a Masters student at Brown University), 2018 Guest Student

Jan Engelhardt (Currently a Ph.D. candidate at University of Leipzig), 2018 Guest Student

Veronica De Pascuale (Oberlin College), 2017 Summer Student Fellow

Daniel Chapman (Eckerd College), 2016 NOAA Hollings Scholar

Victoria Garefino (University of South Carolina), 2016 Summer Student Fellow

Daniel Chapman (Eckerd College), 2016 NOAA Hollings Scholar

Carlo Bocconcelli (Brown University), 2015 Guest Student

Lukas John (Brown University), 2015 Guest Student

Whitney Jaillet (Harvard University), 2015 Guest Student

Lily Helfrich (Northwestern University), 2014 Summer Student Fellow

Shaneese Mackay (Savannah State University), 2014 Summer Intern

Elizabeth Meyer (Wheaton College; Currently a Project Manager at Harvard University’s Museum’s of Comparative Zoology), Winter 2013

Elaine Kuo (Stanford University; Currently a Ph.D. student in the Lees Lab at MIT Biology), 2013 Summer Student Fellow

Kristina Deak (Northeastern University), 2011 Summer Student Fellow

High School Students

Rebecca Butler and Anna Metri

Emma Stillman

Katie Armstrong, Falmouth Academy (Transgenerational effects of Bisphenol A in Daphnia)

Emma Stillman, Falmouth Academy (Metabolic enzyme profiling in Quahogs)