Welcome to the Master of Science in
Marine and Environmental Biology Program

This program allows students to take an expedition through Louisiana’s swamps, marshes and coastal areas. With state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and easy access to multiple field sites, our graduate students are well prepared for real world marine and environmental careers when they finish their graduate school expedition at Nicholls.

The marine and environmental biology program is thesis-based, and thesis research projects have ranged from the molecular to the ecosystem level and everywhere in between.

The Department of Biological Sciences includes 12 graduate faculty on staff and numerous adjunct faculty, including researchers at LUMCON.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about our program.

Dr. Chris Bonvillain,
Coordinator of Biology Graduate Program

Thesis Repository (Fall 2019-current)


Q:  Who should I contact for more information about the program?
You should contact Dr. Chris Bonvillain by e-mail or call him at 985.449.7116.

Q:  Should I fill out an application for the university and the Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Program?
Yes. You must first be accepted by the university before we can accept you into our graduate program. You can easily apply to the university online. For more information read tab below.

Q:  Do I need to complete the mentor agreement form in the Department’s application packet?
Yes. A graduate faculty member must agree to be your mentor/major professor for you to be accepted into the program.

Q:  Are assistantships available?
Yes, but they are competitive and are typically given to the most qualified students. There are three types of assistantships available, and the stipend level varies. For more information, go to our assistantship tab below.

Q:  Is the biology department accredited?
Although we would embrace the challenge of earning accreditation, there is no accrediting agency for biology departments in the United States. The biology department at Nicholls is comprised of a faculty of hard-working professionals renowned for their teaching and research accomplishments, as well as their service to the region, state and nation.  As validation of our good work for and with students, we would certainly seek accreditation if it were possible.  Despite the fact that there is no accreditation agency specifically for us, you should realize that the entire university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, and specialist degree levels.

Q:  Do I have to have an undergraduate biology degree from Nicholls to apply for the Master of Science graduate program in your department?
  No, and, in fact, the diversity of the students we accept improves the breadth of our program.  We can accept students with good recommendations, good GRE scores and good undergraduate grade-point averages from any science curriculum anywhere in the world.  Visit our M.S. degree program page for more details.

  • B.S. degree in a life science curriculum
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00
  • Combined GRE (verbal + quantitative) of 300
  • TOEFL score of 550 (PBT)/213 (CBT)/80 (IBT) for international students
  • Graduate faculty member agree to be major professor
  • Three letters of recommendation from professionals in the field
  • Cover letter and resume or CV
  • Complete application (online and departmental)

The packet will serve as the program and graduate assistantship application.  Please send the completed application packet, official GRE scores, all official college transcripts, cover letter, and CV or resume to:

Dr. Chris Bonvillain
Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Biological Sciences
Nicholls State University
P.O. Box 2021
Thibodaux, LA 70310

When your application is received, you will be notified by e-mail.  For more application information, contact Dr. Chris Bonvillain.

Available graduate positions with graduate faculty are posted on the Texas A&M job board.

Where will your expedition take you? You can decide.

Our graduate program incorporates flexibility to allow you to tailor the curriculum to your interests and career/research goals.

To earn a M.S. in Marine and Environmental Biology, students must complete a minimum of 35 hours consisting of 23 hours of core courses and 12 hours of committee-approved elective courses, including at least one LUMCON course.

A maximum of six hours of 400-level graduate coursework may count toward course requirements. A maximum of six hours of 500-level geomatics (GEOM) courses may count toward course requirements. All coursework applicable to your degree program must be approved by your thesis research committee.

Course descriptions are listed in the University Catalog.

A maximum of 6 transfer hours may be applied to course requirements after approval by your thesis research committee.

Required core courses (23 hrs)

One statistics course from the following:

BIOL 503 Experimental Design (Fall only) or

BIOL 537 Applied Statistical Ecology (Spring only) or

BIOL 542 Biological Data Analysis (Spring only)

(3 hrs)
BIOL 550 Science Communication (Spring only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 551 Marine and Environmental Biology I (Fall only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 552 Marine and Environmental Biology II (Spring only)(3 hr)
BIOL 560 Marine and Environmental Regulation, Law, and Policy Workshop (Spring only)(1 hr)
BIOL 574 Graduate Internship(2 hrs)
BIOL 501 Graduate Seminar (Thesis defense, taken in final semester)(1 hr)
BIOL 591, 592, 593, 594 Thesis Research(6 hrs)
BIOL 599 Thesis(1 hr)

Elective courses (12 hrs)

*BIOL 417 Molecular Ecology (Fall only)(3 hrs)
*BIOL 430 Limnology (Spring only)(3 hrs)
*BIOL 435 Herpetology (Spring even-years only)(3 hrs)
*BIOL 473 Our Changing Coastal Ocean (LUMCON compressed video course)(3 hrs)
*BIOL 480 Environmental Biotechnology (Spring only)(4 hrs)
*BIOL 483 Marine and Estuarine Biology (Fall only)(3 hrs)
*BIOL 490 Environmental Toxicology (Fall only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 503 Experimental Design (Fall only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 504 Ecological Restoration (Fall only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 510 Applied GIS for Biologists (Fall only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 530 Aquatic Ecology (Spring only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 537 Applied Statistical Ecology (Spring only)(3hrs)
BIOL 542 Biological Data Analysis (Spring only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 561 Wetland Plant Ecology (Fall only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 570 Special Topics(3 hrs)
BIOL 575 Environmental Diagnostics and Biomarkers (Spring even-years only)(3 hrs)
BIOL 585 Aquatic Toxicology (Fall only)(3 hrs)
*CHEM 490 Special Topics in Chemistry(3 hrs)
**GEOM 501 GIS Applications (Summer odd-years only)(3 hrs)
**GEOM 511 GPS for Mappers (Summer odd-years only)(3 hrs)
**GEOM 521 Remote Sensing (Summer even-years only)(3 hrs)
**GEOM 531 Spatial Databases (Summer even-years only)(3 hrs)

*A maximum of six hours of 400-level graduate coursework may count toward course requirements.
**A maximum of six hours of graduate-level Geomatics may count toward course requirements.

Students are required to compose and defend a committee-approved thesis.

  • As a master’s biology student, your thesis committee will be composed of a thesis adviser and two to four additional committee members. The thesis committee must include at least three individuals with a Ph.D.  Non-Ph.D. individuals may serve as a fourth or fifth committee member and are usually experts in your field of study. At least three of the Ph.D. committee members must be from the Nicholls graduate faculty.
  • Download the Thesis Guidelines and Format Instructions 2020 revision

Grades and Time Limit
Students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, and only two Cs may count toward the degree. Most students finish this program in two years, although they have up to six years to complete their degree.

Additional policies, forms, guidelines
For more information on graduate studies, visit the Nicholls Office of Graduate Studies Web site.

Check out the diversity of thesis projects our previous graduates have worked on.  Electronic copies of current theses are located at the Ellender Library’s Thesis Repository.

StudentGraduationThesis Title
Leith AdamsSpring 2004Chemical control of the gut microbial population of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, and the isolation and identification of facultative bacteria from the gut
Angie CorbinSpring 2004Recovery of F+ RNA specific bacteriophage for the evaluation of a marsh land upwelling system in low saline waters
Mark DoolittleSpring 2005Use of natural products and lytic peptides to control the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, and the isolation, identification and characterization of Klebsiella pneumoniae sub. pneumoniae from the hindgut of the Formosan subterranean termite
Letha DawsonFall 2005Optimization of chemical pretreatment of post-harvest sugarcane residue for fuel alcohol production
Jennifer LasseigneFall 2005Development of reproductive biomarkers in fish and amphibians
Laurie RodrigueFall 2005Characterization of water quality along Bayou Terrebonne and Bayou Little Caillou, Louisiana
Ronnie SelfFall 2005Isolating genomic biomarkers from the Louisiana red swamp crawfish, Procambarus clarkii
Cassie AddisonSpring 2006Temporal and spatial oyster recruitment patterns and growth from spat to seed in the Barataria Estuary
Christopher BonvillainSpring 2006The use of a low-water refuge in the Atchafalaya River Basin by adult spotted gar, Lepisosteus oculatus
Perry BoudreauxSpring 2006Acute ammonia toxicity and chloride inhibition of nitrite uptake in non-teleost Actinopterygiian Fishes
Brandon ClarkSpring 2006Bioremediation of explosive-contaminated soil
Rhongzon YeSpring 2006The impact of hypoxia on bioaccumulation and metabolism of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
Johnathan DavisFall 2006Reproductive biology, life history and population structure of a bowfin, Amia calva, population in southeastern Louisiana
Jacques FontenotFall 2006Seasonal abundance, GSI and age structure of gizzard shad, Dorosoma cepedianum, in the Upper Barataria Basin
Chris LylesFall 2006Biological treatment of shrimp aquaculture wastewater using a sequencing batch reactor pilot plant study
MattiLynn DantinSpring 2007Distribution and relative abundance of blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, in the Upper Barataria Estuary
Michael WileySpring 2007Estimation of over-wintering, population density and distribution of an exotic lizard, the Brown Anole, Anolis sagrei, in southeastern Louisiana using a novel tagging method
Heather DyerFall 2007Seasonal fish assemblages of Bayou Lafourche upstream and downstream of the Thibodaux weir
Ronnie DukeSpring 2008Temporal and spatial oyster survival and growth patterns from seed to market in the Barataria Estuary
Marcel EstaySpring 2008Assessment of water quality in the upper Barataria Estuary
Nick Gaspard Spring 2008Comparison of intertidal oyster populations between a rock breakwater and a natural reef in lower Barataria Estuary
Olivia SmithSpring 2008Reproductive potential and life history of spotted gar Lepisosteus oculatus in the upper Barataria Estuary
Yanling MengFall 2008
Impacts of molt-inhibiting organochlorine compounds on epidermal ecdysteroid signaling in the fiddler crab, Uca pugilator
Sean JacksonSpring 2009
Distribution and abundance of larval and juvenile fishes in the upper Barataria Estuary
Dhritikshama RoySummer 2009Performance of sequencing batch reactor (SBR) in treating synthetic and shrimp aquaculture production wastewater
Trevis OlivierFall 2009Effects of temperature and storage regimes on the germination rates of three native warm-season grasses
Jeremy DunnFall 2009Effects of phosphate on growth in the reef coral Acropora formosa
Nicole BroussardFall 2009Stage specific potency and phylogenetic sensitivity of gar toxin
Komi HassanFall 2009Optimization of a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) for the treatment of shrimp aquaculture wastewater
Mark SuchyFall 2009Effects of salinity on growth and survival of larval and juvenile Alligator Gar, Atractosteus spatula, and on plasma osmolality of non-teleost Actinopterygiian fishes
Nicole EddlemonFall 2009Water quality and microbial ecology of the upper Barataria Estuary
Tim ClayFall 2009Growth, survival, and cannibalistic rates of Alligator Gar Atractosteus spatula in recirculating aquaculture systems
Kelsey AdkissonSpring 2010Temporal and spatial distribution of native and invasive bivalves in Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana
Sara ShieldsSpring 2010Evaluation of energy cane for lignocellulosic ethanol production
Cynthia FoxSpring 2010Seasonal abundance, age structure, gonadosomatic index, and gonad histology of Yellow Bass Morone mississippiensis in the upper Barataria Estuary, Louisiana
E.J. RaynorSpring 2010Understanding the use of barrier islands as nesting habitat for Louisiana waterbirds
Susan DotySummer 2010Benthic respiration and nutrient fluxes in the Atchafalaya River delta estuary
Saori MineSummer 2010Effects of organic acids on shrimp pathogen, Vibrio harveyi
Siva NunnaSummer 2010Assessing ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity in Uca pugilator during the molting cycle
Mark LinsonFall 2010Initial oyster reef-building potential on constructed shoreline structures used for erosion control in a Louisiana salt marsh
Tabitha OwenFall 2010Habitat requirements and productivity of colonial waterbirds nesting on the Isles Dernieres Barrier Island Refuge
Rachel IanniSpring 2011Monitoring diets and growth rates of native predatory fish stocked to suppress non-native Tilapia
Jenny LedetSpring 2011Sequence analysis of reproductive biomarkers for freshwater and saltwater species of the Barataria-Terrebonne estuary system
Clint TroxlerSpring 2011Change in the fish assemblage of the upper Barataria Estuary associated with input from the Davis Pond freshwater diversion
Justin MerrifieldFall 2011A study of complement activity and antimicrobial peptides in Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus
Lisa BreauxFall 2011Evaluating the effects of salt acclimation on the growth and survival of Spartina alterniflora
Billy FinneySpring 2012Comparative growth and propagule viability of Louisiana-harvested Black Mangrove, Avicenia germinans
Amanda PlayterSpring 2012Body size in Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) inhabiting the lower Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary
Dan O’MalleySpring 2012The effects of wave energy and emersion regime on initial oyster community development on constructed oyster reefs
Taren ManleyFall 2012Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus diets in the upper Barataria Estuary
Kent BollfrassFall 2012Improving growth rates and survival of cultured Alligator Gar Atractosteus spatula with live feeds and Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus with thyroid hormones
Victoria BachelerSpring 2013Constructed oyster reefs assist in creastion of habitat for fish and macroinvertebrate communities in Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana
Clayton KernSpring 2013Sustainable treatment and recovery of shrimp aquaculture wastewater using sequencing batch reactor
Bo BoudreauxSpring 2013Assessment of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides age, growth, gonad development, and diet in the upper Barataria Estuary
David CurtissSummer 2013Wintering waterbird habitat preference on the Isles Dernieres Barrier Island Refuge, Louisiana
Travis EverageFall 2013A survey of antibiotic resistant bacteria in raw sewage and various treatment stages of the Thibodaux Sewage Treatment Plant
Maggie BruceFall 2013Stomach content comparisons between fish associated with constructed and natural oyster reefs of Crassostrea viginica
Stacy MartinezFall 2013Anthropogenic molecular markers in Bayou Lafourche
Sam WiseSummer 2014Anthropogenic microbial source tracking in Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana
Jeff LiechtyFall 2014Diet composition and breeding site fidelity of royal tern and sandwich tern on Louisiana barrier islands
Ashlee MinorFall 2014Forested freshwater wetland responses to secondarily treated municipal effluent discharge
Tejashri VaidyaSpring 2015Detection and characterization of humoral and cellular immune components in red drum Sciaenops ocellatus and black drum Pogonias cromis
Caleb BourgeiosSpring 2015Predation, recruitment, and reef development of hooked mussels (Ischadium recurvum) and eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) on fabricated and natural oyster reefs
Kristin ButerSpring 2015Seston clearance rates of bivalves on living shoreline oyster reefs from a northern Gulf of Mexico estuary
Jordan BellSpring 2015Effects of artificial perches on wintering diurnal raptor visitation and small mammal populations
Stacy CalhounSummer 2015Analysis of exoskeletal content and epidermal enzymatic activity during the molting cycle of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus
Michelle FeltermanSummer 2015Population dynamics, reproductive biology and diet of alligator gar Atractosteus spatula in Terrebonne Estuary and Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge
John GroschFall 2015Fish community structure in the hydrologically impaired upper Barataria Estuary, Louisiana
Chris LevronFall 2015Reproductive biology of a freshwater population of the Gulf Pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli, with comparison to populations of varying salinity found on the northern Gulf Coast
Eric LedetSpring 2016Diet composition of hunter-harvested waterfowl at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area
Abby AdamsSpring 2016Complement protein and erythrocyte derived peptides show antibacterial activity in hardhead catfish Ariopsis felis and yellow bullhead catfish Ameiurus natalis
Scott BergeronSpring 2016Presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in the raw source water and treated drinking water in a southeast Louisiana water treatment plant
Ashley BoothSummer 2016Impact of molt-inhibiting PBDEs on epidermal ecdysteroid signaling in Callinectes sapidus: an initial mechanistic look into disruption of crustacean molting
Samantha HicksFall 2016Proximate cues underlying maternal care behavior in blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus
Nichole LundbergSpring 2017Physiological changes in two populations of ‘Atractosteus spatula’ larvae in response to acute salinity challenges
Eva WindhofferSpring 2017Evaluation of mammalian predator removal and video monitoring as management tools for waterbird conservation
Justin DukeSummer 2017Comparison of life history characteristics of alligator gar Atractosteus spatula from southern Terrebonne Estuary and Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge
Sarah BergeronFall 2017The microbial gut ecology of the red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii
Lauren Kong
Fall 2017Population characteristics of red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii from hydrologically impaired locations in the Atchafalaya River Basin
Meredith McKoinFall 2017The invasion of the Indo-Pacific coral, Tubastraea micranthus, in the northern Gulf of Mexico and the possibility of multiple introductions
Megan NepshinskyFall 2017Sex determination of Royal and Sandwich Terns and identification of Royal Tern foraging movements during the breeding period
Frank YrleFall 2017Spatio-temporal characterization of barrier island vegetation using a small unmanned aircraft system
David BirdSpring 2018Water quality, bacteriological survey, and observation of acquired antibiotic resistance in Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana
Emily BodinSpring 2018Ammonia production and elimination in spotted gar Lepisosteus oculatus embryos and larvae
Richard GrabertSpring 2018The effect of tetracycline on nitrogen and carbon removal in a local sewage treatment plant in Thibodaux, Louisiana
Gerard LombardoSpring 2018Interactive effects of Triclosan and cadmium expsoure on molting and reproduction in the water flea, Daphnia magna
Andria OstrowskiSpring 2018Hormonal control of epidermal carbonic anhydrase and exoskeletal metal deposition in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus
Alexis RixnerSpring 2018Comparison of bowfin, Amia calva, diets and reproductive activity in the upper Barataria Estuary and Atchafalaya River Basin
Seth Van DexterSpring 2018Analysis of termite microbiome and degradation of phenol by bacteria isolated from termite gut
Ellie Wallace
Summer 2018Comparison of finfish assemblages between the Atchafalaya River Basin and the upper Bartaria Estuary, Louisiana
Alexa Ballinger
Fall 2018Population characteristics of red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii from two hydrologically different large river-floodplain systems in Louisiana
Kristen Chatelain
Fall 2018Soil chemistry characteristics of recently restored coastal ridge habitats
Kellyn LaCour-Conant
Fall 2018Vegetative propagation, fruit and seed morphology, and gametophytic self-incompatibility of Lycium carolinianumpopulations in coastal Louisiana
Justin Homer
Spring 2019Assessment of habitat sustainability in a forested wetland receiving municipal wastewater
Adam Quade
Fall 2019Long-term impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil exposure on salt marsh-stabilizing facilitation of southern ribbed mussels, Geukensia granosissma
Gabrielle Sisson
Fall 2019Fishery-dependent stock assessment of crayfish in the eastern Atchafalaya River Basin
Sarah Fontana
Spring 2020Growth and development of Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus spawned out of season
Anthea Fredrickson
Spring 2020Comparing trophic ecology and life history in the development of a stable isotope model based on non-lethal sampling for Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus and Alligator Gar Atractosteus spatula
Rissa Inselman
Spring 2020Community development, oyster density, and population growth on bedded crushed concrete as a function of cultch density
Olajuwon Jimoh
Spring 2020Linking variation in belowground biomass to soil shear strength and carbon sequestration in Louisiana wetlands
Earl McNeese
Fall 2020Tracking the movements of Bowfin Amia calva in the upper Barataria Estuary using radio telemetry
Megan Mire
Fall 2020Effects, in vitro, of 20-hydroxecdysone and chrysene on hepatopancreatic expression of a CYP4 gene in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus
Thomas Phillips
Fall 2020Biodegradation of metribuzin under various electron acceptor conditions
Jacob Cortez
Spring 2021Biodegradation of triclosan under various electron acceptor conditions
Jesse DuBose
Spring 2021Characteristics of the geographic range, reproductive status, and predatory dynamics of Apple Snails Pomacea maculata in the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary
William Heintz
Spring 2021Growth responses of Avicennia germinans and Batis maritima seedlings to multiple concentrations of weathered light sweet crude oil applied differentially to soil and aboveground tissues
Osaze Osayande
Spring 2021Lead inhibits exoskeletal calcification in the post-ecdysial blue crab, Callinectes sapidus
April Simmons
Spring 2021Comparison of larval and juvenile fish assemblages between newly created marsh terrace habitat and existing marsh habitat
KristieRae Ellis
Summer 2021 Trophic ecology of gars (Lepisosteidae) in a Mississippi River floodplain
Benjamin Bates
Summer 2021Measuring abundance of flora and fauna in a marsh terrace restoration project within the BTES, Terrebonne Parish, LA
Alexandra Alterman
Fall 2021Demographics, distribution, and habitat use of box turtles (Terrapene carolina) within the chenier forest of Grand Isle, Louisiana
Frederick Davis
Fall 2021Distribution and habitat assessment of crayfish in the Tickfaw, Tangipahoa, and Tchefuncte River basins, Louisiana
Katie Gray
Fall 2021Population level characteristics of the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) in coastal Louisiana and the establishment of base-line data
Austin Ortman
Fall 2021Effects of environmental hypoxia on Red Swamp Crayfish Procambarus clarkii life history, fecundity, and trophic ecology in the Atchafalaya River Basin
Alexandra Woods
Fall 2021Interactions of wetland vegetation surface tissue with suspended microplastics in surface waters
Ashleigh Lambiotte
Spring 2022Vegetation and biogeochemical responses to sediment diversion relevant innundation and salinity regimes in marsh sods dominated by Spartina patens, Spartina alterniflora, and Typha latifolia
Derek Sallmann
Summer 2022Life history and trophic ecology of gars (Lepisosteidae) in two Mississippi River floodplains with comparisons to other Louisiana populations
Taylor Andrzejak
Fall 2022Microbial ecology and the presence of antibiotic resistance in public boat launches of southeastern Louisiana
Casey Greufe
Fall 2022Population genetic structure, prevalence of Rat Lungworm Angiostrongylus cantonensis, and ecomorphometrics in invasive Apple Snails Pomacea maculata in Louisiana
Coby Bernharthorton
Spring 2023Investigating the effect of accrued wetlands on water quality, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes in the treated domestic effluent of Thibodaux sewage treatment plant
Lauren Eagon
Spring 2023Zinc is incorporated into the exoskeleton during post-ecdysial mineralization and inhibits exoskeletal calcification in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus
Shasta Kamara
Spring 2023Comparison of finfish and crustacean assemblages among established marsh terraces, new marsh terraces and open water in a restored brackish marsh
Wyatt Voelker
Summer 2023Using DNA metabarcoding to characterize the diet of the Rufa Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) at the Chandeleur Islands and Grand Isle, Louisiana
Michelle Lignieres
Fall 2023Observing species abundance and assemblage over time to evaluate a system of marsh terraces within a restoration project in Terrebonne Basin, Louisiana
Elizabeth Myers
Fall 2023Comparison of marsh edge and open water aquatic faunal communities at Isle de Jean Charles, a degraded natural estuarine ridge in Terrebonne Basin, Louisiana
Erik Nati-Johnson
Fall 2023Characterizing the emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation communities of coastal ridges and spoil banks in the Barataria and Terrebonne Basins
Haleigh Sever
Fall 2023Comparison of Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus embryos and larvae produced from the Atchafalaya River Basin and upper Barataria Estuary broodstock
Carissa Thiel
Fall 2023Ecological characteristics and soil processes in terrestrial forest habitats on coastal ridges and a survey of avifauna usage of four coastal ridges of different origin in the Caminada-Moreau Headland, Louisiana
Ivy Hebert
Spring 2024Biodegradation of phenol by a bacterial consortium isolated from Hurricane sediments
Tammy Johnson
Spring 2024Elucidating the mechanism of biofilm desorption uon coliphage infection and nutrient deprivation
Connor Lee
Spring 2024Identifying freshwater mussel species in the Calcasieu and Sabine River Basins using environmental DNA and metabarcoding
Emily Ott
Spring 2024Comparison of adult Spotted Gar reproductive potential and body condition from the Atchafalaya River Basin and the upper Barataria Estuary
Alec Plaisance
Spring 2024Investigation of the biodegradation of sulfamethoxazole by multidrug resistant bacteria isolated from Hurricane Ida overtop sediments in southeast Louisiana, USA
Dr. Christopher Bonvillain
Director of University Graduate Studies
Associate Professor
114 Kilgen Hall
Phone:  985.449.7116
Dr. Ramaraj Boopathy
Alcee Fortier Distinguished Service Professor
John Brady Sr. & John Brady Jr. Endowed Professor
216 Gouaux Hall
Phone:  985.448.4716
Dr. Timothy Clay
Assistant Professor
115 Kilgen Hall
Phone:  985.448.4714
Dr. Allyse Ferrara
Distinguished Service Professor,
Jerry Ledet Foundation Endowed Professor of
Environmental Biology
113 Kilgen Hall
Phone:  985.448.4736
Dr. Quenton Fontenot
Professor and Department Head
114 Gouaux Hall
Phone:  985.449.7062
Dr. Katherine Galloway
Assistant Professor
230 Gouaux Hall
Phone:  985.448.4726
Dr. Gary LaFleur Jr.
233 Gouaux Hall
Phone:  985.448.4715
Dr. Rajkumar Nathaniel
222 Gouaux Hall
Phone:  985.448.4684
Dr. Himanshu Raje
Assistant Professor
228 Gouaux Hall
Phone:  985.448.4709
Dr. Jonathan Willis
Associate Professor
157 Kilgen Hall
Phone:  985.448.4313
Dr. Enmin Zou
Distinguished Service Professor,
Theodore Shepard Endowed Professor
226 Gouaux Hall
Phone: 985.448.4711

Check out the wide range of research projects being done by our current graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Graduate StudentAdvisorThesis Title
Annie AlexanderFontenotComparing relative abundance among preferred, marginal, and poor habitats for invasive carp larvae
Rob BergeronBonvillainAbsence of a riverine flood pulse on Red Swamp Crayfish Procambarus clarkii life history and fecundity characteristics in the upper Barataria Basin
Claire BoudreauxClayAssessing population demographics and nesting ecology of Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) within the Barataria estuary
JD CarrierBonvillainEffects of chronic environmental hypoxia in the Atchafalaya River Basin on crayfish epigenetics, fecundity, and oocyte development
Kathryn FreemanBonvillainLife history of the Pontchartrain Painted Crayfish Faxonius hobbsi, a species of greatest conservation need, in Louisiana
Elizabeth GranierWillis 
Maris GriffinWillis 
Sameul IslamFerrara 
Julia JonesWillis 
Firoz Al MamunZouHow does valency affect chromium incorporation into the exoskeleton in the Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus?
Stephanie PlaisanceFontenot 
Ben PocheFerrara 
Shelby TruckenbrodClayHome range and habitat use of Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) in Barataria Bay, Louisiana


Opportunities for more experience…in and out of the classroom.

There are three main types of assistantships available to graduate students:

Graduate Assistantship – This assistantship is offered through departments other than Biological Sciences and may involve working at the library, an administrative office, the university tutoring center, or another university department or office for 20 hours a week. The assistantship will pay your tuition and a semester stipend. The stipend amount may depend on where you work but is usually $2,500 per semester. More information can be found on the graduate assistants web page.

Graduate Teaching Assistantship – This assistantship is offered through the Department of Biological Sciences and is awarded based on availability and applicants’ GPA and GRE scores. You will be required to work 20 hours a week assisting with and teaching freshmen biology labs. You may begin teaching labs after you have completed at least 18 hours of graduate coursework, which is usually your third and fourth semester. The assistantship will pay your tuition and a $4,800 per semester (not including summer) stipend.

Graduate Research Assistantship – This assistantship is offered through an individual faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences to work on a research project. The time required cannot be more than 20 hours per week and the pay depends on the research grant. Graduate teaching assistants may receive a graduate research assistantship, depending on availability, for the summer semester.

Contact Dr. Chris Bonvillain for more information.


Since our M.S. program began in 2002, the Department of Biological Sciences has graduated 135 students who are employed in various local, state, federal, private, and non-profit agencies and organizations, secondary schools and universities, and graduate and professional programs throughout the country.

Our M.S. alumni include:

  • 31 graduates accepted to Ph.D. programs around the world
  • 1 graduate accepted to medical school
  • 1 graduate accepted to law school
  • 2 Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellows
  • 3 graduates that are faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences at Nicholls
  • graduates from 32 states and 4 countries
picture of graduate students


Nicholls State University is located on the banks of historic Bayou Lafourche in the heart of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary in Thibodaux, La. Thibodaux is a quiet town full of moss-draped oak trees and Cajun spirit. The area is surrounded by cypress-tupelo swamps that give way to fresh marsh, brackish marsh, and salt marsh as you travel down the bayou. Nicholls State University is the southernmost university in Louisiana and is only an hour and half drive to the Gulf of Mexico.  Thibodaux may be a small town, but New Orleans and Baton Rouge are only an hour away.

The summers are warm and the winters are mild. Opportunities for fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, bird-watching and nature exploration are abundant all around Thibodaux.



Department of Biological Sciences

Office Location:
114 Gouaux Hall
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 2021
Thibodaux, LA 70310
Phone: 985-448-4872
Fax: 985-493-2496
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