Research Group

Post-doctoral Researchers


João Henrique Fernandes Amaral

João Henrique Fernandes Amaral is currently a postdoctoral associate to the Morrison lab (UF-ESSIE) in collaboration with the Bianchi lab (UF-Geology), investigating the processes that drive the production and transformations of phosphorus and organic matter in South Florida treatment wetlands.

Before coming to the UF, João was a postdoc at UCSB working with John Melack and Sally MacIntyre on greenhouse gas dynamics in Amazon floodplains. He has been working with C biogeochemistry in Amazon floodplains since 2008. João is a biologist (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil) and received his MS in Freshwater Biology and Continental Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Biology – Ecology, from the National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA), Brazil.  His research combines field measurements, observations and experiments, with GIS tools for the application of statistical models to answer questions at the ecosystem level, and at different temporal and spatial scales. His research interests are freshwater ecology, limnology, biogeochemistry, ecological processes, greenhouse gases dynamics, and organic matter characterization.

Graduate Students

jacob lab photo

Jacob Gaddy

Ph.D. Student

I received my undergraduate degrees in Biology and Religious Studies from the University of Mississippi. I am interested in studying the biogeochemical cycling within aquatic ecosystems such as wetlands, estuaries, or coastal systems. Specifically, my interests are related to the internal and external drivers that control nutrient cycling and the effects anthropogenic activities have had on these drivers. My upcoming project will employ the use of biomarker-based proxies  (including amino acids and stable isotopes for carbon and nitrogen) to identify the drivers of organic matter and phosphorus turnover in South Florida Storm Water Treatment Areas.

Alex lab image

Prakhin Assavapanuvat

Ph.D. Student

I received a Bachelor of Science in Geology, majoring in Lake Geochemistry, from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. I interest in tracing the influence of recent global changes on biogeochemical cycles. My research area is on Apalachicola Barrier Island, Northwestern Florida, where native saltmarshes are now being replaced by poleward-migrating mangroves due to warmer temperature. My project aims to trace changes in organic carbon stock, their properties, and their preservation potential corresponding to the shift in predominant vegetation communities.


Emily Watts

Ph.D. student

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry from the University of Florida. I am interested in studying the health of aquatic ecosystems through the use of chemical biomarkers. My graduate research will be focused on fecal contamination in the St. Augustine area, looking at sterols as a biomarker.

Undergraduate Lab Assistants



Clayton Jeremy Salvatori

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student triple-majoring in Marine Sciences, Astronomy, and Microbiology. I have a deep interest in all the sciences, particularly those concerned with complex physical and biological systems. My current work involves the use of LC-MS to analyze amino acid biomarkers in aquatic environments. My goal after graduation is to enter medical school and become a physician-scientist.


Kira A. Zautcke

I am a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Chemistry (concentration in Biochemistry) and Marine Science at the University of Florida. I am interested in the chemical analysis of ocean cycles and processes, and I am a conservation advocate. I am currently working on research about historical changes in carbon storage in Swedish fjords. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in a related field after graduation. 

Timothy Sterling

Timothy Alan Sterling

I am a current senior undergraduate student majoring in Sustainability Studies. Alongside looking at the humanitarian aspects of the environment, I have an interest and desire to contribute scientifically to the discipline. As I continue to work in the lab and engage within everyone’s research, my goal is to expand my current knowledge to better equip myself for the future. My goal post graduation is to move on to graduate school and eventually work for the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lab Technicians

Dr. David Atherton lab pic

Dr. David Atherton

Dr. David Atherton received his PhD in analytical chemistry from UF in 1984.  His dissertation area of study, electrochemistry, led to his 35 year career in rechargeable battery R&D.  He also has experience in instrumental analysis with GC, GC-MS, LC, LC-MS and sample biochemical preparation methods.  As of 2020, he is a senior lab technician in Bianchi lab.

Research collaborator


Justin Lewis

I received my BS in Aquatic and Marine Biology from Stetson University in 2009 and MS in Marine Science from the University of South Alabama in 2017. My thesis research used laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to analyze vertebral chemical signatures of blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) and evaluate their efficacy to infer natal origin. It was during this time I developed an interest in novel analytical methods to address ecologically relevant questions. I am currently a PhD student in Dr. Will Patterson’s lab at the University of Florida studying reef fish trophic dynamics and patterns of carbon flow in the northern Gulf of Mexico. A primary goal of my research is to improve our understanding of trophic relationships among reef fishes so that these interactions can be considered when making management decisions. I am working closely with the Bianchi lab group on amino acid-compound specific stable isotope analysis (AA-CSIA); a powerful but underutilized technique in this region. Between degrees, I worked as a technician for Drs Chris Koenig and Felica Coleman at the Florida State Coastal and Marine Laboratory, FSU’s academic diving program, the Oceanography Department’s Marine Field Group, and as a fisheries observer on commercial longline and gillnet boats throughout the southeast. In my spare time, I enjoy playing with my wife and son, tinkering on my FJ60, hiking, fishing, camping, diving, and rock climbing.

Recent Former Lab Members
For a complete list, please see Dr. Bianchi’s curriculum vitae.
Post-doctoral Researchers:
Michael Shields
Mathieu Le Meur (2016-2017)
Ana Arellano (2014-2017)
Graduate Students:
Derrick Vaughn (2015-2019)
Jack Hutchings, Ph.D. (2018)
Xiaowen Zhang, Ph.D. (2012-2017)
Xingqian Cui, Ph.D. (2012-2017)
Visiting Scholars:
Jun Zhao, Ph.D., Hangzhou, China (2017-2019)
Bin Zhao, Ph.D. Student, Qingdao, China (2016-2017)
Undergraduate Research Assistants:
Amelia Bunnell
Josh Piasecki
Orlando Cordero (2018-2019)
Austin Herzer (2018-2019)
Nimisha Lingappa
Geethu Kurian
Jennifer Green
Kate Dobson
Lindsay Lockwood
Jonathan Roman (2015)
Angelica Ares (2015-2016)