Lab Members

Stephanie K. Archer, PI

Dr. Archer completed her PhD at North Carolina State University where she worked in the Layman Lab studying how sponges alter community composition and ecosystem function in tropical and subtropical nearshore marine ecosystems. She then moved on to work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada in multiple capacities. There she studied species interactions and ecosystem function of Glass Sponge Reefs and worked to develop efficient monitoring methods grounded in a strong understanding of the behavior and ecology of keystone species. She is now an Assistant Professor at LUMCON where she heads a lab focused on coastal Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico sponges, oyster reefs, and other biogenic habitats. Outside of work she has a healthy obsession with University of Georgia football (go Dawgs!), loves to cook and read, and enjoys gardening, wood working, kayaking, and generally being outside.

Twitter: @ArcherEcology
Email: sarcher at
Google Scholar
Research Gate

Allison Noble, Graduate Student

Bio coming soon

Siyah Yongue, Graduate Student

Siyah completed her undergraduate degree in Marine Sciences at the University of Florida. Throughout her time there she studied abroad in Belize, helped survey for the Santa Fe River Turtle project, and participated in the Undergraduate Coral Research Initiative funded by NSF. She was also a research assistant for the Benthic Ecology lab at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. At USGS, she worked on a variety of projects regarding mangrove preservation, coral restoration, deep-sea trophic ecology, microchemistry connectivity for Red and Vermilion Snapper, and infaunal community analysis post-Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. She was able to board NOAA’s Nancy Foster and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Point Sur research vessels, where she helped with processing sediment cores, collecting and processing CTD samples for eDNA and particulate organic matter studies, and imaging/quantifying the deep-sea community in the Gulf of Mexico. Siyah is now co-advised by Drs. Archer and Lavaud at LSU, where she is getting her Masters focusing on tracking the eastern oyster’s behavioral responses under predicted climate change conditions (i.e., low salinity and dissolved oxygen) in both laboratory and natural settings. Outside of science, she loves exploring new places, hiking, reading, trying new foods, setting up/maintaining aquariums, and spending time with family and friends!

Yanila Salas-Ortiz, Graduate Student

Originally from Puerto Rico, Yanila received her BS in Chemistry from University of New Orleans (UNO). During her bachelor’s she worked on multiple projects in materials and analytical chemistry. Yanila chose to continue her academic journey at UNO, a decision that led her to her current position as a PhD candidate specializing in environmental and analytical chemistry. Her relationship with the Archer group started as a collaboration for the field work/sampling campaign in Abaco Island, The Bahamas, to monitor the health of seagrass beds and their recovery after Hurricane Dorian. In addition to the field work, she analyzed the samples for heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. Today, Yanila’s doctoral research, co-advised by Drs. Stephanie Archer and Phoebe Zito at UNO focuses on monitoring heavy metal concentrations in subtropical aquatic ecosystems. Despite her busy schedule, Yanila believes in maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Outside the lab, she loves to swim, watch movies and spend time with her loved ones.

Ariel Alonso, Graduate Student

Ariel completed her undergraduate degree in Biological Science at University of New Orleans where she was a research assistant in Dr. Kelly Boyle’s lab. There she worked on effects of fish calling behavior caused from boat noise using recordings from Dauphin Island, Alabama. She also worked in Dr. Erin Cox’s lab and she did field work in Florida collecting seagrass. She recently finished a non-thesis masters programat Tulane University in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department with Dr. Hank Bart Jr. as her advisor. They worked on 3D fish modeling from underwater videos using deep learning methods. Ariel was also a Graduate Intern at LUMCON in the Archer Benthic Ecology Lab working on comparing fish calling behavior between sponge reefs and rocky reefs in the Salish Sea in Canada. Ariel is now a graduate student at University of New Orleans working with Dr. Kelly Boyle and as an honorary member of the Archer Lab. Aside from school and science, she is involved in many volunteer positions through Ducks Unlimited. she is a chapter volunteer, Area Greenwing Chairman for our chapter and the chairman for the Greenwing Youth Organization in the state of Louisiana. She also loves to drink coffee, play with my animals, watch movies, hunt and fish and anything to do with the outdoors!

Email: arielnalonso7 at

Granger Hanks, Research Assistant II

Granger received his B.S. degree in biology in 2019 from Nicholl’s State University where he began research on deep-sea wood-fall communities as Dr. Craig McClain’s research technician. After working in the McClain lab for a year post graduation, he enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) as a master’s student advised by Dr. McClain. His master’s research focused on experimentally disentangling the drivers of the species-area relationship in ephemeral habitat island communities to aid in the advancement of species-area research applications to conservation efforts. While at ULL, he contributed to studies on wood, sponge, and alligator food falls as well as biodiversity assessments of the Deep-Water Horizon wreck site. Currently, he helps to monitor oyster reef biodiversity and health in Louisiana’s coastal waters as a research assistant in the Archer Benthic Ecology Lab using both bioacoustics and more traditional sampling techniques. Outside of work Granger enjoys making custom jewelry and spending time outdoors.

Grace Hancock, Collections Assistant

Grace Hancock is currently the collections assistant for LUMCON’s Coastal Marine Biodiversity Collection. She is originally from Portland OR but received her bachelor's degree in Biology and Spanish from Kalamazoo College in June 2022 where she worked with Dr. Santiago Salinas in the Kalamazoo College Fish Lab. There, they studied the effects of temperature fluctuations on a species of estuarine fish that exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination. She also spent a period of time interning at the GEMM lab at the Hatfield Marine Science Center studying Blue whale migration. Both of these experiences encouraged her to pursue a career in marine biology and ignited her curiosity of marine fauna. When she isn't hanging out in the collections room, she enjoys anything that gets her outside, reading, sewing, and playing music with her family!

Tam Ta, Guest Researcher

Tam is currently an undergrad at the University of Washington majoring in Environmental Science and Medical Laboratory Science. She started at LUMCON as an REU Intern where she examined fish calling behaviors in glass sponge reef ecosystems. Going forward, she will be working on a passive acoustic research project looking at fish calling behaviors and biodiversity in glass sponge reefs. Tam is also worked as a Student Assistant in the Quantitative Conservation Lab at the University of Washington. She is currently working through data entry and camera trap processing for seabird monitoring in the Channel Islands National Park. When she is not working, you can find her hiking, embroidering, and drinking bubble tea.

Former lab members

Although we’re sad not to work with them every day we’re very proud of our former lab members and the amazing things they’re doing now!

Kay Schlachter, former Research Associate, is now at University of Florida persuing her PhD in Benthic Ecology

Hallie Blondiau, former STEM Prep Student, is finishing her undergraduate degree at University of Louisiana Lafayette

Finella Campanino, former MSc Student, is now at University of Florida pursuing her PhD in Benthic Community Ecology

Haley Crawford, former REU Student, recently finished their undergraduate degree at USF

Philina English, former Postdoctoral Researcher, is now a Biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Matthew Heyer, former Undergraduate Researcher, is continuing his degree at Southeastern Louisiana University

Vance Hoff, former STEM Prep Student, is continuing their undergraduate degree at LA Tech

Abigial Host, former Research Assistant, is pursuing her MSc at University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Tithalia Lockett, former REU Student, is continuing her undergraduate degree at University of New Orleans

Abhi Mohratra, former STEM Prep Student, is continuing their associates degree at Baton Rouge Community College

Samantha Schlegel, former REU Student, recently finished up their undergraduate degree at University of Tampa and is now working in a Deep Sea Benthic Ecology Lab for the USGS in Gainsville.

Makeda Serju, former Intern, has finished her degree at The University of The Bahamas and is working as a Research Assistant with Perry Institute of Marine Science

Mackenzie Plowman, former REU Student, is finishing up their undergraduate degree at Shenandoah University

Mikel Vaughan-Coston, former REU Student, is finishing up their undergraduate degree at University of Michigan