Professor and Principal Investigator

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Dr. Maria S. Sepúlveda

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Dr. Maria Sepúlveda’s main area of research is ecotoxicology. Over the last two decades, she has conducted extensive research evaluating the sublethal effects of a wide-range of environmental contaminants on the physiology of numerous terrestrial and aquatic species. She earned a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine degree from Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile; her MS from University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Wildlife Ecology); and her PhD from the same University (Veterinary Sciences/Toxicology). Dr. Sepúlveda’s research focuses on understanding the sublethal effects of legacy and emerging pollutants to fish and wildlife. Her laboratory uses a diverse number of animal models and techniques to advance the field of aquatic toxicology.


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Tyler Hoskins

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Ty obtained his B.S. in Biology from Butler University in Indianapolis and his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Miami University, in Oxford OH. He is studying accumulation and effects of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) on aquatic and estuarine wildlife. Current projects include establishment of PFAS toxicity reference values for amphibians, effects of PFAS on brain accumulation and neurotransmission, assessment of biosolid-derived PFAS in farm pond ecosystems, evaluation of PFAS toxicity to blood midges with emphasis on developing QSAR models for hemoglobin binding, and in vitro metabolism of precursor PFAS in aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates.


Laboratory Managers

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Matthew Hamilton

Matt manages the Aquatic Sciences labs on campus in the Forestry Building. Matt obtained his first B.S. in 2008, Organizational Leadership & Supervision, Purdue University, IN and then received a B.S., 2012, Wildlife Science, Purdue University, IN, and received a M.S., 2016, Wildlife and Forest Resources, University of Georgia, GA

Abigail with a bird on her hand.

Abigail Valachovic

Abby manages and facilitates the building and labs at the new Wildlife Ecology Research Facility (WERF) out at Purdue Wildlife Area. Abby received her B.S. in Biology from Union College in Schenectady, NY in 2020 and her M.S. in biology from Miami University of Ohio in May 2022. Abby’s master’s thesis research focused on understanding the role a nuclear receptor pathway (PPAR) on fat accumulation and mobilization in the migratory Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis).

Nathan by large plant standing in outside garden.

Nathan Mak

Nathan received his B.S. in Biological Sciences and Entomology from Cornell University in 2022. His work focuses on the effects of stream water temperature and industrial effluent on fish stress and molecular responses.

Graduate Students

Anna Bushong

Anna received her B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Centre College in Danville, KY in 2021. Her master’s thesis research is focused on elucidating the effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on lipid metabolism using the amphibian model Xenopus laevis (African Clawed Frog).

Undergraduate Students

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Sophia Horn

Sophia is a junior majoring in Biology at Purdue’s College of Science. She leads a genetic sexing project with the purpose of adding sex as a covariate to our ecotoxicology projects involving the species Xenopus Laevis.

Trip holding a catch

Trip Newton

Trip is in her fourth year as a Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences major at Purdue. She is helping with PFAS research with amphibians.

Emma Engel

Emma is a senior majoring in Aquatic Sciences with a concentration in Marine and Freshwater Biology. She also has minors in Wildlife Science and Environmental Policy & Politics. She has been a member of the genetic sexing team in the past and aided in PFAS research on amphibians including the establishment of toxicity reference values. She currently works on maintenance of mesocosms as part of the biosolids project and assists in husbandry and exposure of the midge colony.

Hallie Jackson

Hallie is a junior majoring in Ecology with minors in Chemistry and Wildlife Sciences. Hallie is working on a project examining gene expression in fathead minnows exposed to an oil refinery effluent. She is also helping on a project that is genetically sexing Xenopus laevis to examine the importance of sex on toxicity responses.