Lab: 266 SCI
California State University Dominguez Hills
1000 East Victoria St.
Carson, CA 90747
Curriculum vitae: PDF
Fieldwork Photographs: Gallery
I am an animal physiologist interested in how organisms acquire energy based on their specified feeding mechanisms and digestive strategies. My research uses a blend of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to answer biological questions about performance, mainly in marine animals. I also enjoy pairing my research with various outreach endeavors.
September 2021: Congratulations to undergraduate researcher Kevin Mosqueda on being awarded LSAMP funding!
August 2021: Welcome to MS student William Nguyen! You can learn more about him on the "People" tab. If you are interested in earning your MS at CSUDH with me starting Fall 2022, please send me an email describing your research interests! Additionally, we have been awarded a Guenther Foundation Award to purchase a 2nd virtual cadaver table! This is in addition to the first table that is being funded by the Del E. Webb Foundation Award. Finally, I am a co-PI on a DoD equipment award that was funded for the purchase of a confocal microscope! This is a collaboration between the biology, physics, and chemistry departments at CSUDH.
July 2021: The Leigh Lab had it's first day out in the field collecting samples for our microplastic work in commercially important fishes!
June 2021: My paper "Shark intestines may operate as Tesla valves" has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B! You can find it on the publications page. This paper attracted quite a bit of press attention. Check out this article in The New York Times!
May 2021: Starting off this month with a bang by being awarded a Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity (RSCA) Faculty Intramural Grant Award! This means that we will be able to support more undergraduate researchers to join the lab! We are also excited to welcome Raven Nolasco, our newest undergraduate researcher! You can find out more about her in the "People" tab. Raven, Kevin, and Kelsie have all been awarded summer funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research to do some exciting microplastics research!
April 2021: This has been an exciting month! My bonnethead shark gut microbiome paper is now available in Marine Biology! Check out the publications page for the link. I was also awarded a New Faculty Research Fellowship from Friday Harbor Labs! I'll be visiting FHL next summer to continue some exciting shark spiral intestine work. I was also awarded a Faculty Legacy Grant to continue some microplastics research! Additionally, we've been awarded a Del E. Webb Foundation grant to purchase a virtual cadaver table for the college! This will be a great asset for CSUDH students! Finally, I wrote a narrative piece for the magazine ELEMENTS on ocean health from the point of the view of a shark. Check it out here!
March 2021: My paper with Donovan German and Yannis Papastamatiou on the microbiome of the bonnethead shark has been accepted for publication in the journal Marine Biology! Stay tuned for when it becomes available!
February 2021: Welcome to our new undergraduate researchers, Kevin and Kelsie! You can find out more about them and their projects in the "People" tab. They were also both just awarded CSU COAST Undergraduate Research Awards! Congratulations Kelsie and Kevin!
January 2021: I have been awarded a grant from the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science, & Technology to investigate microplastics in the tissues of commercially important fishes! I was also awarded a grant development award from CSUDH to kick start some more bonnethead shark research. If you are interested in joining the lab as a Master's student for Fall 2021, please send me a brief email describing your interests.
Highlights from Previous Years:
2020: I accepted a position at CSUDH as an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department! I am so excited for this new chapter of my career! My bonnethead shark research was highlighted by National Geographic as one of the "most fascinating shark discoveries of the past decade." Check it out here.
2019: This year I had a publication in Biology Open. I also graduated with my PhD from UC Irvine, started a postdoc at CSUF, taught four new courses, won a Biomechanics Early Career Fellowship, presented at SICB, was invited to speak at multiple seminars, and more!
2018: Another productive year! I won a Sigma Xi GIAR. I presented my research at SICB and APS, winning an award for my abstract at APS and an award for "Best Talk" talk at SICB. I completed the Pedagogical Fellows Program. I published a chapter of my dissertation on seagrass-eating bonnethead sharks in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and it received a ton of press! I co-organized the first UCI Climate Solutions Summit. I became a writer for the NPR radio show the Loh Down on Science. I accompanied UCI Vice Provost Dr. Frances Leslie to Sacramento for Grad Research Advocacy Day where I met with legislators to advocate for UC graduate programs. I also debuted my first sci-art piece at Art in the Park. On to even more amazing things in 2019!
2017: A great year! I advanced to PhD candidacy, I had one paper published in Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries and another one published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B, I presented at four conferences and won "best talk" awards at two of them (SICB, AES, ESA, and SWOB), I was awarded four major fellowships (UCI OCEANS, UCI Newkirk, UCI Distinguished Public Impact Fellowship, UCI Microbiome Initiative Pilot Project Award), I completed my internship with NOAA through the UCI Climate Action Training Program, and I became more active in science communication (Brews and Brains, SciComm Monday, Gills Club).
2016: I was honored to be awarded an NSF GRFP, as well as a YEG from National Geographic, a GIAR from the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, the Raney Grant Award from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and a GIAR from Sigma Xi. I was also fortunate enough to participate in the Friday Harbor Labs Fish Functional Morphology course and be accepted to the 2017 UCI Climate Action Training Program.
2015: Watch me and three young scientists explore the California coast in the SciGirls episode "Terrific Pacific" on PBS! The full episode is now available online here.