Randy Coryell

  Mentor: Dr. Michele Nishiguchi
  RISE Scholar since: Summer 2015

  • Ph.D. Biology, New Mexico State University, Expected 2018
  • B.S. Botany, Western New Mexico University, 2013
  • B.S. Chemistry, Western New Mexico University, 2013
Research Interests:

  • Most metazoan organisms play host to a vast array of microbes that either directly or indirectly provide a fitness advantage to their host. Beneficial bacteria occupy areas on the human body from the skin to the gut, and have been shown to have strong preferences for certain environmental conditions (The Human Microbiome Project Consortium, 2012). For example, certain life threatening conditions such as obesity have been linked to the population structure of bacteria in the gut (Ley, Turnbaugh, Klein, & Gordon, 2006), demonstrating a need to not only investigate the population structure of beneficial microbial communities, but the genetic response to the environment that affects the entire holobiome. My research aims to examine how environmental and host specificity drive the fitness benefits of mutualistic bacteria within their eukaryotic hosts, more specifically, my research will look at the population structure of endemic squid, Euprymna albatrossae (Mollusca: Cephalopoda: Sepiolidae) and their symbiotic luminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri (-Proteobacteria) that occur in the waters surrounding the Philippine islands using a combined molecular and phylogeographic approach. I also intend to look at the possible impact of change in the marine environment on host and bacterium, investigating biotic and abiotic factors that may shape this and other mutualisms. Finally, I intend to broaden the scope of my inquiry to include other closely related squid and bacterial genera to investigate cosmopolitan patterns in the data.
Teaching Experience and Interests:

  • Over the past five years, my teaching pedagogy has undergone a transformation from the traditional lecturing style to an active learning approach. My undergraduate experience lecturing in General Chemistry and Forensic Science afforded me the first exposure to a traditional STEM lecture environment where students were presented with a wealth of information that they were to regurgitate. While this structured environ may be suitable for some subjects, current thinking in STEM education is that an active learning approach is more suitable and enhances student performance and retention. As a graduate trainee, I have had the opportunity to implement active learning activities into both the lecture and laboratory environment. Courses like Cell and Organismal Biology, Evolution and Diversity of Plants, Invertebrate Zoology, and Molecular Systematics are just some of the STEM core courses in which I was able to implement active learning exercises in order to increase student participation and comprehension.

  • Career Goals: To obtain a postdoctorate appointment at a R01 research Institution focusing on translational research that can be directly applied to current human health treatment modalities. Specifically, I would like to implement an evolutionary approach to current human health questions, and expand my skillset with exposure to a diverse scientific community. Eventually, I would like to use these skills and experiences to obtain a tenure-track faculty appointment, at an institution that is focused on human health research as well as STEM training and instruction.
Research Abstracts:

  • Phylogeographic patterns in the Philippine archipelago drive symbiont diversity in the bobtail squid-Vibrio mutualism
  • Prey choice and molecular evolution in parasitic spider- wasps (Pompilidae) and their larval hosts
  • Abstracts Uncharted Waters: Characterizing Sodium Channel Diversity in Spiders (Araneae)

  • NSF RUI Research Fellow 
  • Gila Native Plant Society Botany Scholar
  • Ralph Fischer Chemistry Scholar
Service activities:

  • NMSU Aggie Experience Day/ Lab tour and research overview
  • Girls Can! / Outreach at Sierra Middle School
  • Generaciones- Program designed to allow children of migrant farm workers to be exposed to the university environment