Current lab members

Matt Schuler, PhD

Principal Investigator

I am an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey. As a community ecologist, the goal of my research group is to understand how anthropogenic factors alter ecological communities, given expected patterns of assembly, coexistence, and diversity from fundamental ecological theories. For the past few years, I have been investigating how anthropogenic stressors such as salinization, climate change, and invasive species affect freshwater environments. I also study how urban developments and environmental modifications such as roads alter the chemistry and distribution of species in ponds, lakes, and streams. This fall and winter I will be investigating if road salts increase the risk of heavy metal contamination in private drinking wells in New Jersey. 

Curriculum Vitae


Dean Bobo

Research Associate

I am currently a bioinformatician at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History. My current research includes estimating error rates of next-generation sequencing, tracking bacterial haplogroups in a ringtail lemur troops in Madagascar, determining how microbial communities change with freshwater salinization or pollution by human activity, and building gene annotation pipelines for use on non-model organisms. I build scalable and reusable pipelines to identify and QC genomic variants and annotations from high-throughput sequencing data on distributed computing systems. I trained at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Johns Hopkins University, and previously was a bioinformatician at the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


Arif Ahmed

PhD Student

I am a PhD student at Montclair State University working toward my degree in Environmental Science and Management. How all of nature's components function in perfect harmony has always enthralled me. My research interests include understanding how agrochemical residues affect aquatic ecosystems by lowering water and soil quality, diminishing species' diversity, upsetting food webs, altering energy flow, and changing patterns of nutrient cycling. While working with Dr. Matthew Schuler, I am gaining valuable experience and knowledge. 

Litzy Ponce

Undergraduate Student - Biology 

I am pursuing my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology at Montclair State University. I plan to go to medical school after I obtain my Bachelor's degree in hopes of becoming a Pediatrician. My younger brother is my inspiration as he was born premature so I plan on specializing in Cardiology or Neonatology. I also work as an Emergency Medical Technician to gain patient care experience. I am excited to start researching with Dr. Schuler and his team and gaining research experience. 

Nicole Triana 

Undergraduate Student - LSAMP and Biology 

I graduated from the Jose Marti STEM Academy in Union City, NJ, in the summer of 2022. I decided to pursue my bachelor's in biology at Montclair State University, in hopes to go to PA school afterwards and become a Physician Assistant once I finish. I am excited to be working with Dr. Matthew Schuler and my peers to conduct research and to help me gain first hand experience with working in a lab. I've loved biology since I was younger and I am thankful to have this opportunity!

Averi Loria

Undergraduate Student - Exercise Science

Crystal Nwalor

Undergraduate Student - Biology

Former lab members

Justin Howell (2023-2024) - MS Student

Joe Affinito (2022-2024) - MS Student

Megan Klutts (2022-2024) - MS Student

Kevin Peteroy (2021-2024) - MS Student

Samantha Aaron (2021-2022) - MS Student

Darius Chisolm (2020-2022) - MS Student

Emily Stone (2020-2021) - MS Student

Justin Green (2023-2024) - Undergraduate Student - Marine Biology

Vincent Alonso (2023-2024) - Undergraduate Student - Marine Biology

Faith Collier (2023) - Undergraduate Student - Computer Science

Chris Belen (2023) - Undergraduate Student - Computer Science

Sarah Hajjar (2022-2023) - Undergraduate Student - Biology

Yousef Dimian (2021-2023) - Undergraduate Student - Exercise Science

Jared Vigil (2021-2023) - Undergraduate Student - Biology

Thara Polanco-Diaz (2021-2022) - Undergraduate Student - Biology

Nazar Kravchuk (2021-2022) - Undergraduate Student - Exercise Science

Marwha Kayali (2021-2022) - Undergraduate Student - Biology 

Erin Tyll (2021) - Senior summer technician - Biology

Stephanie Zapata (2021) - Senior summer technician - Biology

Colleen Potocki (2021) - Summer technician - Environmental Science 

Alexis Garofalo (2020-2021) - Undergraduate Student - Biology

Lisbeth Roa (2021) - Undergraduate Student - Biology

Lindsey Montas (2021) - Undergraduate Student - Biology

Khaled Elzokm (2020) - Undergraduate Student - Biology