Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael

Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael

Senior Marine Scientist II

Associate Professor of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama Ph.D., Boston University, 2004

Bio

Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael is a Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and an Associate Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama.  She came to Alabama from Maine, where she was Assistant Professor of Marine Science at the University of Maine-Machias.  Carmichael holds an MA (1998) and PhD (2004) from Boston University at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.  She is a population and trophic ecologist who uses traditional ecological techniques coupled with elemental and telemetry methods to understand how organisms respond to environmental perturbations, from physiological responses to changes in growth and survival or movement patterns.

She is Director of DISL’s Manatee Sighting Network and operates the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network.  She is Co-chair of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s Science Advisory Committee and Member-At-Large for the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.  She has served as an editor for four scientific journals and is a past President of the Gulf Estuarine Research Society.  She has more than 50 publications in Marine Ecology and is an editor of the recent book, Changing Global Perspectives on Biology, Conservation, and Management of Horseshoe Crabs, Springer, New York.

Download Dr. Ruth Carmichael's CV

Education

2004    Ph.D.   Marine Biology, B.U. Marine Program, Marine Biological Laboratory
1998    M.A.   Marine Biology, B.U. Marine Program, Marine Biological Laboratory
1993    B.A.    Biology with honors, University of Chicago

Courses

Marine Conservation Biology
Invertebrate Zoology
Scientific Communication
Stable Isotope Ecology Seminar
Biology and Conservation of Horseshoe Crabs

In the News

Research Interest

My research focuses on marine ecosystem responses; understanding relationships between organisms and their environment and specific biological and physiological responses to environmental change.  In particular, I am interested in the mechanisms by which anthropogenic-driven perturbations affect coastal habitats and species.  I give special focus to commercially important coastal bivalves, horseshoe crabs, manatees and dolphins. I use a variety of approaches to make these assessments.  I measure how perturbations affect habitat and food quality for consumers, and then determine the extent to which these effects may be transferred up coastal food webs in terms of change in growth, survival, and physiology.  I also employ natural abundance stable isotopes to trace N and C sources from consumers to their food sources and ultimately to N and C sources from land.  I use this information to discern trophic interactions, define linkages between anthropogenic factors and organism responses, assess nutritional importance of food sources, discern physiological state of organisms, and historically trace responses to environmental change.

Current Research Grants:

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) - Alabama Marine Mammal Conservation and Recovery Program. 2015-2020
Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries - Aerial mapping of manatee thermal refugia in Alabama waters: Defining essential habitat. 2015-2017
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Decadal scale documentation of endangered West Indian manatee habitat use in the northern Gulf of Mexico west of Florida. 2016-2018
WHOI Sea Grant Program - A history of mercury impacts to Waquoit Bay, MA clams. 2014-2017 

Past Research Grants:

MS-AL Sea Grant Consortium - A circulation and transport model for fishery management in Mobile Bay and eastern Mississippi Sound. 2014-2017
US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - Determining sources, history and status of eutrophication at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 2014-2015 
MS Water Resources Research Institute (MWRRI) - Water quality in Bangs Lake: Effects of recurrent phosphate spills to a coastal estuary: Years 1 and 2. 2014-2015 
Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries - Population ecology, movements, habitat use and diet of West Indian Manatees in Alabama waters.  Various projects 2009-2015
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) - Support for the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network. 2014 
NOAA, National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC) - Data Management in Support of NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessment for the Gulf of Mexico: Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Data Management Center. Various projects 2007-2013 
NOAA, Prescott Fund, Fisheries Protected Resources Program - Establishing a regionally cooperative dolphin stranding network for Alabama. 2011-2012 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) - A cooperative marine mammal stranding network for Alabama. 2011-2012 
BP-GoMRI - Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Recovery: Sentinel macrofauna (MESC).  2011-2012 Effects of oil contaminants on sentinel benthic and pelagic species in Mobile Bay, AL (NGI). 2010-2011
NOAA, National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System - National Science Collaborative, Legacy effects of land-use change and nitrogen source shifts on a benchmark system: Building capacity for collaborative research leadership at the Grand Bay Reserve. 2010-2013 
NOAA, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Program - Proposed data collection plan to assess injury to West Indian manatees from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill outside of Florida. 2010 
Alabama Oyster Reef Restoration Program - Quantification of direct and indirect nitrogen removal by oysters (Crassostrea virginica). 2009-2011 
Richard C. Shelby Center for Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management - From Mobile Bay to nGOM fisheries: The trophic importance of land-derived organic matter. 2009-2011 
MS-AL Sea Grant Consortium - Use of stable isotope ratios to link wastewater sources to effects on shellfish and human health: Defining relevant and effective spatial and temporal scales for management. 2008-2010

Publications

Who We Are

Current Opportunities

Volunteers: We periodically select undergraduates for 2-3 month volunteer internships. Please contact ehieb@disl.org if you are interested in an intern position.

Prospective students: Students are accepted through the University of South Alabama.  All students must meet the requirements for admission to the University of South Alabama graduate school and Marine Sciences Department.  Qualified applicants may send GRE scores, GPA, current CV, and a brief statement, indicating specific topics of interest, to rcarmichael@disl.org.

Lab Technicians:

Elizabeth Hieb (M.S. University of South Alabama)
Noel Wingers (B.S. Florida Gulf Coast University)

Graduate Students:

Anika Knight, PhD Student
"Elemental indicators of anthropogenic pollution in bivalve shell"
Haley Nicholson, PhD Student
"Larval Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) settlement, distribution, and growth in a freshwater dominated and human influenced estuary"
Allen Aven, PhD Student
“Habitat use by the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) in Alabama waters
Kayla DaCosta, PhD student
"Population connectivity and habitat utilization of the West Indian manatee in the northern Gulf of Mexico determined by elemental and genetic analyses"

Interns:

2016
Catherine Reynolds (University of South Alabama)
Jamie Thompson (Abilene Christian University)
Audrey Palombo (University of Florida)
Kaitlyn Witlicki (University of South Mississippi)
Tori Brackett (University of South Alabama)
Rachel Chamberlain (University of South Alabama)
Neil Berglund (Tulane University)

2015
Anna Henrikson (University of South Alabama)
Maren Stinson (Texas A&M University)
Diego Calderon-Arrieta (Rhodes College)
Deryn Hill (Southeastern Louisiana University)
Lauren Willis (University of Alabama)
Kristine Alford (University oif South Alabama)
Ashley Frith (Brown University)
Casey Fulford (Florida State University)
Jessica Kinsella (University of North Carolina - Wilimington)
Yishen Li (University of Miami)
Autumn Nitz (University of South Alabama)
Rebecca Dudley (University of Sheffield)
 
2014
Ethan Cantin (University of South Alabama; summer/fall 2014)
Morgan Waites (University of South Alabama; summer/fall 2014)
Hailey Boeck (University of North Alabama; summer 2014)
Josh Millwood (University of West Alabama; summer 2014)
Hannah Shirley (University of West Alabama; summer 2014)
Adam Forkner (University of Alabama; summer 2014)
Emily Parker (University of Alabama; summer 2014)
Rachel Valencia (University of Mobile; summer 2014)
James Landry (University of Alabama; spring/summer/fall 2014)
Alayna Lawson (Spring Hill College)
Kristin Reints (University of South Alabama)
Jessica Kinsella (University of North Carolina- Wilmington)
Yishen Li (University of Miami)

2013
Renee Edwards (University of Illinois-Urbana Champagne; fall 2013)
Jake Hall (University of North Alabama; summer/fall 2013)
Megann Santana (University of South Alabama; fall 2013)
Amanda Ellenburg (University of South Alabama; summer/fall 2013)
Holly Bell (University of Mobile, AL; summer/fall 2013)
Caitlin Collins (Troy University, AL; summer 2013)
Ariel Reed (University of North Alabama; summer 2013)
Cara Whalen (University of South Alabama; summer 2013)
Morgan Frank (University of South Alabama; summer 2013)
Andrew Morin (Warren Wilson College, NC; winter 2012/spring 2013)
Ben Nagel (Iowa State; winter 2012/spring 2013)

2008-2012
Jessica Lajoie (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, MA; fall 2012)
Kristin Marino (University of Vermont; winter 2012)
Pavel Dimens (SUNY, NY; fall 2012)
Margaret Gilroy (MS, Duke University, NC; summer 2012)
Elizabeth Lauss (Florida Institute of Technology, FL; summer 2012)
Thomas Bilbo (Denison University, OH; summer 2012)
Emily Strauss (Spring Hill College, AL; summer 2010)
Carolyn Kovacs (College of William & Mary, VA; summer 2009)
Allen Aven (NGI Intern, University of Tennessee; summer 2008)

Directed study students:

2016
Amber Simpson (University of South Alabam; summer 2016)

2015
Anna Henrikson (University of South Alabama; summer 2015)

2013
Emily Baker (Jacksonville State University; summer 2013)
Marie Barton (University of Alabama; fall 2013)

2008-2012
Tyler Mason (University of South Alabama; summer 2012)
John McFadyen (University of Alabama; summer 2011)
Erik Brush (Auburn University, AL; summer 2010)
Maury Estes (Alabama A&M; summer 2009)
Heather Juedes (University of Alabama; summer 2008)
Lauren Waters (Auburn University, AL; summer 2007)
Isabella D’Ambra (University of South Alabama; fall 2007)

REU students:

Elizabeth Thompson (Harding University, AR: summer 2016)
Angie Garelick (CSU Channel Islands, CA; summer 2016)
Sean Carter (Colorado College, CO; summer 2015)
Amanda Jones (Rutgers University, NJ; summer 2011)
Katie Interlichia (Vassar College, NY; summer 2010)
Joshua Daskin (Brandeis University, MA; summer 2007)

Undergraduate career shadowing:

Cody J. Weinberger (University of Chicago, IL; spring 2013)
Steven Vickery (University of Chicago, IL; spring 2011)

High school interns:

Sophie Davis (Davidson High School; fall 2016)
Nic Klinge (Daphne High School; summer 2013)
Emil Johnson (W. P. Davidson High School, AL; spring 2010)
Jacy Baggett (Murphy High School, AL; summer 2010)
Cameron Welch (Benjamin Russell High School, AL; summer 2007)

Post-docs:

LaTina Gambles (DVM, Tuskegee University, AL; Tufts University, MA; summer 2012)
Pat Prado (Co-advisor under Dr. K. Heck)

Former technicians:

Jessica Delo (MS/Samford University, AL, 2011)
Ryan Crim (MS/Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2010)
Courtney Miller (BS/USA, 2010)
Nicole Taylor (BS/Memphis State University, 1993)
Claire Pabody (MA/University of Alabama, 2008)

Former Students:

Elizabeth S. Darrow Condon, PhD 2015
“Evaluating historical and spatial anthropogenic impacts in a coastal estuary system using chemical and microbial indicators”
Jessica Frank, M.S. 2015
"Investing potential domoic acid exposure in West Indian manatees stranded in coastal Alabama"
Heather Patterson, PhD 2014
“Use of stable isotope ratios and protein regulation to detect dissolved oxygen stress in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica”
Joe Dalrymple, M.S. 2013
“Effects of ontogeny on nitrogen sequestration and removal capacity of oysters”
Isabella D’Ambra 2012 (co-advised with Dr. M. Graham)
“Application of stable isotopes in the analysis of trophic interactions between gelatinous Zooplankton and fish”
Peter Biancani, M.S. 2010
“Seasonal and spatial effects of wastewater effluent on oyster growth, survival, and accumulation of pathogens in Mobile Bay, AL”