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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences

Graduate Student Directory

Eilea Knotts

Degree Program: Integrative Biology
Room: PSC 512
Major Professor: Dr. Jay Pinckney


                My research background in the lab, as well as in the field, has helped me discover my desire for knowledge in the field of ecology at the population and community level. These interests have strengthened my desire to obtain my doctoral degree in biology (specifically marine) through intense examinations of the effects of inhibited carbonic anhydrase on the natural phytoplankton communities in coastal waters at the Baruch Marine Field Lab.

                 Carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) are used by phytoplankton in order to concentrate dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) within their cells. These adaptions were evolved to enhance uptake of DIC at present surface water concentrations. However, mechanisms, such as the carbonic anhydrase enzyme (CA), are active, energy-consuming processes that may become redundant in the future due to increased concentrations of CO 2 in surface waters. In order to gain a better understanding of the carbonic anhydrase enzyme, recent studies have investigated the CA enzyme through the use of inhibitors: acetazolamide (AZ) and ethoxyzolamide (EZ). Most of our knowledge is based on individual cultures or oligotrophic water samples. However, there are few studies that look at the mechanism’s effects on estuarine phytoplankton communities and none have measured the in situ effects on community composition. Using bioassays of natural phytoplankton communities, my research will explore how community composition is altered when the competitive advantage of the CA enzyme is reduced. These changes will be monitored with measurements of chlorophyll a fluorescence, cell abundances, microscopy, photopigments, nutrients, and the inhibitors: AZ and EZ. This study will provide a better understanding of how the CA enzyme impacts the composition of phytoplankton communities in coastal waters.


B.S. Marine Biology Summa Cum Laude (Dec 2013) University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI

M.S. Biology Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (May 2016) University of South Carolina, Columbia SC

USC Teaching Assistantships:

BIO 101L: Fall 2014; MSCI 460-002: Summer 2016; BIO 301L: Spring 2015-Present; BIO 415L: Spring 2017; MSCI 460-001 & 002: Summer 2017

Leadership Positions and Awards:

Graduate Association of Biological Sciences (GABS): Member ('14-Present), Website Coordinator ('15-Present), Secretary ('16-'17), Vice President ('17-Present)

Southeastern Estuarine Research Society (SEERS): Member (16'-Present), Student Representative ('17-Present)

F. John Vernberg Bicentennial Fellowship in Marine Science ('15)

Jeffery Barnesdale Memorial Fellowship ('17)

International Womens Fishing Association Scholarship ('17)

Publications and Posters:

Knotts ER & Griffen BD. (2016). Individual movement rates are sufficient to determine and maintain dynamic spatial positioning within Uca pugilator herds. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70(4), 639–646.

Griffen BD, Belgrad BA, Cannizzo ZJ, Knotts ER, Hancock ER. (2016). Rethinking our approach to multiple stressor studies in marine environments. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 543, 273-281.

Knotts E, Griffin M, Rice M. (2014). Condition index of northern quahogs, Mercenaria mercenaria (Linnaeus, 1758), in Narragansett Bay in relation to sediment types [abstract]. In: The 34th Annual Milford Aquaculture Seminar; 2014 Feb 24-26; Shelton, Connecticut. Journal of Shellfish Research, 33(2), 541-565.

Knotts ER and BD Griffen. 2015. Individual personality is sufficient to determine and maintain dynamic spatial positioning within Uca pugilator herds (poster presentation). Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference. Athens, GA, USA. *Awarded 1st place in student awards