Undergraduate Researchers

I work with several amazing undergraduates who help me out and cary out their own research in the lab every semester. Thanks to their amazing hard work, we are learning so much about how corals respond under projected global change!

Check out all the amazing presentations Bailey, Liz, Jess, and Kyle gave this semester at UNC’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research and at Symbiofest 2019 in Athens, GA! Way to go team!

Current Researchers:


Jess Mccoppin is a senior from Cary, NC majoring in biology with minors in marine science and chemistry. In the Castillo Lab, she is assessing the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on the endosymbionts of Caribbean corals using image colour analysis as a proxy for bleaching. Jess is also assisting in the Aquarium Research Center with the current experiment on a North Carolina coral, Oculina arbuscula. She is an avid scuba diver and her lifelong goal is to appear on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. 

Liz Farquhar is a current senior at UNC, and she is studying environmental science. She worked on her Spanish minor while she was living in San José, Costa Rica last summer. She is also working on her marine science minor and hopes to work in marine conservation or educational outreach one day.  Liz is looking at coral bleaching as a result of experimental ocean acidification and warming on Caribbean corals. Additionally, she will also be assisting in the Aquarium Research Center with the current experiment using the North Carolina coral , Oculina arbuscula. She enjoys mountain biking, running, and traveling. Liz has done 3 half-marathons and plans to do a full one day. Her and her sisters have traveled to 6 different countries together, including Nepal, where she rode an elephant at an animal sanctuary and discovered how closely you can get to river crocodiles before they eye you down. She hopes to avoid such encounters while working in Castillo lab, but she is always ready for a challenge.

Past Researchers:



Kyle Oliveira 2020 (Senior Honours Thesis can be viewed here)



Bailey Thomasson 2019 (Senior Honours Thesis was awarded UNC Department of Biology’s 2019 Robert Coker Award for excellence in research – can be view here)


Brigitte Butler 2018

Lauren Winbourne 2018

Joe Townsend 2016