Who are we?


Current Members

Dr. Stephen Baines, Associate Professor

I received my Bachelors degree from Drew University, double majoring in Biology and English. My PhD is from Yale University in Biology from the Division of Ecology and Evolution.  My dissertation work, which was conducted at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies with Mike Pace and Gene Likens, concerned how fates of primary production scaled with productivity in lakes and oceans.  I spent a summer in Sweden at Uppsala University studying sedimentation before moving to McGill University the following summer to work with Asit Mazumder and Jaap Kaalf while acting as McGill field station manager.  I then moved to the University of Wisconsin to work with Stephen Carpenter and Tim Kratz with the North Temperate Lakes LTER, where I worked on regional drivers of synchrony in lakes.  I  moved to Stony Brook as a research scientist in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, where I spent most of my time working with Nicholas Fisher on trophic transfer of trace elements.  I became an assistant professor in Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook in 2007 and associate professor in 2013.

Ph.D. Students

Mary Alldred

Broadly, I am interested in how organisms and communities affect ecosystem processes. For my dissertation, I am examining the effects of plant communities on denitrification in wetland ecosystems. Denitrification is the microbial reduction of nitrate to dinitrogen gas. As important sites of denitrificaiton, wetlands are responsible for removing a significant fraction of mineralized nitrogen from watersheds. We know that plant communities are shifting rapidly, due to climate change, sea-level rise, land-use changes, and species invasions. We also know that plants modify denitrification rates by altering sediment conditions. However, to date, we have no framework for predicting how changes in plant-community distributions will affect denitrification. My research focuses on identifying and modeling functional plant characteristics as predictors of denitrification rates.

Emily Herstoff

My theis proposal concerns how the selectivity of predators in aquatic ecosystems may be influenced by the elemental composition of their prey. Competively dominant organisms should have a particular elemental composition that reflects the optimal tradeoff between growth rate, presistence and economy of resource use. Models show that predation can promote diversity and influence biogeochemical cycles by selectively removing prey exhibiting such optimal traits before they can exclude their competitors. However, it is unclear whether selective predation is ever actually based on elemental composition of prey, or is a indirect result of preference based on other prey traits. Using copepods and protozoans as predators, I plan to study the how elemental composition and physical shape of prey interact with the mode of predation to influence selectivity on prey of different elemental contents in the lab. I will also use manipulations of predator abundance and cell specific analyses of elemental composition and biochemical content to study this problem in the field.

Stoycho Velkovsky

As a first year student, I have yet to determine my thesis topic. I have been involved in use of planar optodes to visualize changes in sediment oxygen content in response to plant activity, and the consequential effect on the nirogen cycle, with an emphasis on denitrification. I am slo interested in understanding the basis of Fe requirements in organisms, and the manner in which the change allocation in response to environmental gradients in availability of Fe.

M.A. Students

Kevin Doyle

I was originally an Stony Brook undergraduate in the lab before becoming a research assistant and then enrolling in the MA program in E&E. My work in the lab has been aimed at determining the critical Fe:C ratio in diatoms that leads to a shift between carbon and Fe limitation of copepods.


Nawal Ahmed

Steven Lundi

Vashtidevi Mahadeo

Priscilla Moley


Past Members

Katie Schneider, Postdoctoral Associate

My Ph.D. research at the University of Maryland focused on how the availability of nutrients and energy can influence the biochemistry, community dynamics and biogeography of cave arthropods.  Now, as a postdoctoral associate in the Baines Lab, I am expanding on these interests, investigating physiological traits that determine how species respond to spatial and temporal changes in abiotic conditions (including resource availability) and the larger implications thereof. Understanding the traits that drive these species-specific responses may enable us to predict how the community composition can shift with dynamic conditions.  In addition, functional traits that influence species success may be associated with tradeoffs between other traits,

I am currently using marine diatoms to examine functional traits that influence competitive ability and defense in a dynamic environment.  I am interested in how these functional traits are related to the degree of silicification of the diatoms, a trait which displays great interspecific variation.  Specifically I am investigating how compositional changes brought about by changing conditions can lead to a shift in the trait space of diatom silicification.  As silicification is an important factor influencing carbon sequestration, community-driven alterations in the silica content of species will have biogeochemical implications.

Xi Chen, Ph.D. Candidate

My dissertation research addresses the limitation of secondary production by iron. As an essential nutrient, Fe limits the primary production in over 30% of the world’s ocean, resulting in High-Nutrient Low-Chlorophyll (HNLC) conditions. However, the effect of Fe deficiency on zooplankton grazers has been largely overlooked. For my dissertation, I cultured a group of marine microalgae under Fe-replete and Fe-depleted conditions in a trace metal clean environment, and studied the physiological and ecological responses of model copepods fed these algae by analyzing a suit of parameters. I also participated in a cruise study to Costa Rica upwelling dome to examine the prevalence of Fe limitation on secondary production in the field. Given the role that zooplankton play in the elemental cycling, this study could have important implications for biogeochemical cycles of Fe and C, and enhance our understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns in marine zooplankton productivity and community structure.


Undergraduate Assistants

Farah Arnowitz

Diana Lenis

Ashley Moreno

Kaitlin Morris

Sangmin Pak

Alex Sneddon

Mike Stepowyj

Former Lab Members

Nicole Franco, High School Intern

Dylan Assael, Undergraduate Assistant

Kevin Groudan, Undergraduate Assistant

Douglas Lerner, Undergraduate Assistant

Jordan Schwartzberg, Undergraduate Assistant

Jennifer Hobbs, Laboratory Manager

Research topics

Research Topics

Ecological stoichiometry of the plankton and its effects on biogeochemical cycles


Dissolved organic matter as an energetic subsidy to zebra mussels

Using plant traits to predict denitrification in tidal wetlands


Limitation of copepod production by trace elements


Regional factors driving variability in ecosystem dynamics