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Current Mentees

Jami is a marine biology undergraduate at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is currently expanding her knowledge in ocean science, as she plans to continue research as a biological oceanographer. Her main area of focus is anthropogenic impacts on marine life, and would like to contribute research that will lead to improved conservation of our oceans. Jami enjoys all fields of science, as well as surfing, volleyball, and her houseplants!

Jami is currently working with me in a coral research project by assisting in tank design, coral culture, extraction of DNA and RNA, microbiome symbiome and transcriptome analysis, and the quantification of symbionts. 

Jami Clayton
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Ceyenna is an undergraduate student at the University of California Santa Cruz where
she is majoring in marine biology. She is currently working with me as an intern through a program called CAMINO that aims to diversify the field of ecology and evolutionary sciences. She is currently learning about the response of coral microbiomes to different environmental stressors and is involved in creating a study seeking to learn how dissolved organic carbon affects the microbial community of a coral species called Pocillopora damicornis. She hopes to one day become a professor at a university and use the skills she learns here and in the future to aid in the fight to conserve and protect marine environments. She enjoys learning and gaining new perspectives from others. Ceyenna has assisted me in experimental planning by doing literature research, creating presentations, and learning to use QIIME to analyze microbial samples. We meet weekly to discuss our progress and continue moving forward on the study.

Ceyenna Tillman
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Zachary Mason is a biomolecular engineering student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After receiving a transfer degree in engineering from his community college in Santa Barbara county, Zach moved to Santa Cruz to combine his interests in engineering with biology. He plans on using his developing skillset to apply engineering principles to molecular biology research. His primary interests are in the development of biotechnologies and synthetic biological processes that can help further our understanding and ability to combat instances revolving around diseases, viruses, and cancer.

Zachary Mason
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Coming Soon!

Samuel Cuevas
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Neil is an undergraduate student at the University of California Santa Cruz studying biomolecular engineering. He is interested in environmental policy, sustainable and equitable development, and humanitarian design. He is currently working on his molecular biology and programming skills, and enjoys hiking, playing guitar, and swimming.

Neil Smith
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Coming Soon!

Isaiah Hammond
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Coming Soon!

Sriram Bijimaru
High School Student, Bay Area

Lauren is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz studying marine biology and sustainability studies. She is currently working for the Sison-Mangus lab assisting Marilou with her projects. She is currently caring for the Daphnia, and working on analyzing the bacteria growing in their gut. She one day hopes to have her own research projects studying the effects of climate change on marine organisms. Lauren assisted me pre-covid with caring for the corals and attending our weekly meetings. She enjoys SCUBA diving and learning new protocols in her lab.

Lauren Kallen
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Former Mentees

Lourdes is a graduate student in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. Her research focuses on molecular evolution and epistas as it relates to antimicrobial resistance. This will have broad impacts that include both human disease dynamics and the ecology and evolution of microbial ecosystems. Ultimately she would like to work at an institution where her research can be applied to the betterment of her communities through improvements in both climate and human health. She enjoys working in the lab, discussing research with others, and scuba diving!

Lourdes assisted me in my Masters Thesis research by compiling data, writing imageJ code, and photographing hundreds of algae. We met semi-weekly to ensure we are both progressing in our fields.

Lourdes Gomez
Graduate Student, Yale University

Vinicius (Vini) Souza, is a recent marine biology graduate from the University of California Santa Cruz. Having been born in Rio de Janeiro, being in and around the water was natural to Vini at an early age, instilling a love of the ocean that led him to pursue a career in marine science. Vini is passionate about conducting science that aims to address critical marine issues, in particular, research involving coral reef conservation and restoration.

His hobby as a coral aquarist fueled his interest in coral reef systems and led him to meeting Stephan. Since January of 2019, Vini has been an integral team member, assisting Stephan in maintaining a 130 gallon coral aqua culturing system. In addition, through weekly meetings, lab responsibilities, and grant writing, Vini developed an independent project comparing manual and automated zooxanthellae counting techniques. The experiences Vini has gained under Stephans mentorship has allowed him to continue maturing as marine scientist, learning lifelong skillsets that will be applied in all his future endeavors. 

Vinicius Souza
Graduate Student, Sonoma State University

Eduardo is an undergraduate transfer student studying computer science. He is working on completing his Bachelors of Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz by 2020. Before transferring, Eduardo was committed to use his knowledge in programming and softwares to fight for good causes. This goal was finally able to be practiced after transferring to UCSC in the Fall of 2018. Since then, Eduardo has been working with his colleague, Golnoush Pak, to automate the aquarium test environment. The ultimate goal of their project is to carefully document and release an open source software that will allow scientists to build and maintain advanced coral research environments.

When Eduardo isn't programming, he likes to play in the school's Mariachi Eterno, practice in his band, mountain bike around campus, and LARP with his UCSC Tolaria comrades. 

Eduardo Villa
Undergraduate Student, UC Santa Cruz

'The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.' -Robert Swan

Golnoush Pak is an undergraduate student at University of California, Santa Cruz. She is majoring in computer science and minoring in applied mathematics. Her passion lies in serving others and using the resources of technology and her interest in research to push for environmental activism. Alongside her friend Eduardo, she works with a committed and diverse team of undergraduate students for Mr. Bitterwolf. Her research focuses on using Raspberry Pi and the Python programming language to develop a tank-automation software that better estimates coral environment and ocean temperature changes. Under the mentorship of Mr. Bitterwolf, Eduardo and Golnoush recently assembled an 8-channel relay switch that controls different features of their testing tank.

Golnoush plans to pursue a PhD in climate science or Renewable Engineering while earning a Masters in Creative Arts and Sustainable Design on the side. She is honored to call Mr. Bitterwolf her mentor and cherishes the opportunity to gain experience in interdisciplinary and coral research.

Golnoush Pak
Undergraduate Student, UC Santa Cruz

I graduated from UCSC in 2019 with a BA in Environmental Biology.
During that time, I mixed seawater and learned how to maintain a warm
water coral tank. My research interests are interdisciplinary with a
focused approach to understand the interactions between organisms and
their environment. I am mainly interested in the molecular scale of
ecosystems in the era of climate change. There is a cellular reason
that corals stress then bleach, and I intend to find out which
mechanisms are responsible for their stress.

Grace Reed
Graduate Student, Northeastern University

Megan Sampiere-Prochnow is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is studying Marine Biology. Her interests within the field include conservation, restoration, ocean health and coral reefs. Megan is currently working with a nonprofit to gain experience developing large scale field projects based around coral reefs. Her goal in life is to help communities whom rely on their surrounding marine environment for food and income, by developing strategies to sustainably maintain healthy marine environments for future generations. In the lab, Megan performed various tank maintenance tasks such as testing the water, feeding the corals and cleaning the tank. She attending weekly lab meetups where the team discussed current and past research of corals.

Megan Sampiere
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

My name is Bailey McCormick and I’m an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major and Chemistry minor at UCSC. You can usually find me riding my bike between main campus and coastal campus or on the field playing for UCSC softball. I have had the joy of working in two labs before joining the Bitterwolf team. The first was the Alonzo lab at UCSC looking into sexual behavior of mosquito fish. The second was in the recovery ecology lab at the Institute for Conservation Research through San Diego Zoo Global, specifically working with the reintroduction of mountain yellow legged frogs in the San Bernardino mountains. I recently got back form a quarter abroad in the Yucatan and Costa Rica, where I was studying conservation biology and biostatistics. While abroad, I was able to go on my very first scuba trip and was in awe of the coral reefs around Cozumel. My main goal in the future is to be able to work in conservation research that works to protect entire ecosystems; including coral reefs.
In the Bitterwolf lab, I will be assisting in coral culturing, DNA/RNA extraction, symbiont quantification, statistical analysis, and in coral education. I will also be working on my senior thesis on corals’ response to bleaching temperatures and human introduced pollutants. I’m looking forward to all the work we have ahead of us and in sharing the knowledge we gain from our research.  

Bailey McCormick
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

My name is Max Alperstein, I am currently a junior at the University of California Santa Cruz studying marine biology. I am an active environmentalist helping to protect the land and oceans. I am most interested in coastal ecology, specifically topical and coral reef ecology, understanding the effects of climate change and working to help revert these effects. I am currently working hard to get my undergraduate in bachelor’s of science and later a master’s degree in the same field. I hope to be part of many research exhibitions in the field, understanding as much about the coast as possible.
I have worked in Stephan’s lab for about the past year. Mostly working in his lab, tending to his corals in his tank. From checking parameters of the water, dosing the tank with the proper chemicals needed, feeding and cleaning the corals, and general maintenance on the tank. I am also part of a weekly meeting with Stephan and the other members in the lab where we read over a published work and talk about it to understand what is going on in the field, and to better understand what published research looks like. Finally, I worked with Stephan in the Expanding Your Horizons at Hartnell College. Here we held an interactive workshop about sea level rising, talking about what it really means and the threats it holds in the future. 

Max Alperstein
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

Sabrina Ng is currently a third year UCSC undergraduate majoring in Marine Biology. She is interested in pursuing research related to fish and corals, and ultimately aspires to work in field/lab research and be a college professor.

Along with other undergraduates, we meet weekly discussing different articles pertaining to corals as she aims to further her understanding of marine ecosystems. 

Sabrina Ng
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz

My name is Josue Lopez. I’m a third year Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major. I aspire to become a field researcher, visit different continents and see ecological differences. I am currently a part of Stephan Bitterwolf’s weekly meeting where he guides the group through scientific articles and provides mentorship. I am in the process of growing as a student of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and expanding my work into marine research along with surveying amphibians and reptiles.

Josue Lopez
Undergraduate, UC Santa Cruz


If you'd like to see if there is any room for you please contact me.