Dr. Rosanna J. Milligan

Rosanna Milligan

Rosanna (Zan) Milligan is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Halmos College of Natural Sciences & Oceanography at Nova Southeastern University, Florida where she currently leads the Seascape Ecology Lab. She received her PhD in 2015 from the University of Glasgow, UK.

My research interests lie in understanding how the distributions and biodiversity patterns of deep-sea animals are shaped by their environment across multiple spatiotemporal and organisational scales. My lab has a strong focus on data analysis, and we use a variety of statistical and data-driven analytical approaches to better understand dynamic spatial distributions and diversity patterns in deep-sea animals and their driving processes in open ocean and deep-sea ecosystems. I am particularly interested in the role that mobile fauna (particularly fishes) may play in connecting spatially and temporally disconnected ecosystems. As we gain a better understanding of the "natural" drivers of change within these ecosystems, we will be better able to understand and predict the effects of increasing human impacts at all ocean depths. ​

My Orcid ID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8296-4780

My ResearcherID: J-3058-2014

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Current Students

Krista Scheuerman


Krista N. Scheuerman (B.S. Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas; Current M.S. Marine Science student, Nova Southeastern University)


My current research involves analyzing data from the DEEPEND Project, specifically looking at fish biodiversity and  community structure in the deep Gulf of Mexico. I am interested in the diversity of species that were collected in deep water trawls and the distribution of those specimens involving a depth gradient and time of day. The data gathered focused on the previously unknown and generally unstudied mesopelagic fishes of the northern Gulf. I am currently in my first year at Nova Southeastern University and beginning the framework for my thesis research with Dr. Milligan in the Seascape Ecology Lab. 

Mikayla Twiss


Mikayla Twiss (Current M.S. Marine Science student, Nova Southeastern University,

B.S. Marine Biology and Captive Wildlife Care and Education, Unity College)

My research involves examining morphometrics to determine if vertical migration patterns vary with body size. Utilizing fishes caught from the DEEPEND Project, this study will hopefully allow us to understand if there is a relationship between body shape and migration patterns.

Adam Warren


Adam Warren (Current M.S. Marine Science student, Nova Southeastern University)

My current research involves examining the patterns of diel and ontogenetic vertical migration, vertical abundance, and distribution in the mesopelagic lanternfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico through detailing their size structuring and life history. My thesis aims to get a better understanding of one of the dominant fish in the highly complex and variable ecosystem structure of the Gulf of Mexico.

Meta Hughes


Ian Areford


Ryan Byrne


Erica Henderson



Nina Pruzinsky


Research Assistant

M.S. Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University, B.S. Environmental Science, University of Delaware

Nina’s Masters thesis focused on the identification, faunal composition, and spatiotemporal distributions of larval and juvenile tunas in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The findings from the spatiotemporal distribution analyses are highlighted in her recent publication entitled, “Pelagic habitat partitioning of late-larval and juvenile tunas in the oceanic Gulf of Mexico,” in Frontiers in Marine Science (doi: 103389/fmars.202000257). In Dr. Milligan’s lab, Nina conducts statistical analyses on biological and environmental data collected during the NRDA ONSAP and DEEPEND cruises in the Gulf of Mexico. Her recent research interests have focused on analyzing vertical distributions of deep-pelagic fishes on fine-scale depth ranges and differing solar cycles. She has also worked on identifying life history traits that can be used to create functional groups of deep-sea fishes for ecosystem management purposes. Nina also works as Research Assistant in Dr. Tracey Sutton’s Oceanic Ecology Lab and Dr. Jose Lopez’s Marine Microbiology & Genetics Lab at NSU. 

Lab Alumni


Thomas Ingalls

Thomas Ingalls (B.S Marine Biology, M.S. Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University)

Graduated: Winter 2021

I am interested in age and growth of commercial sciaenids from the Gulf of Mexico. My thesis focuses on how the shape and structure of otoliths change with age and environment. I will be using a combination of image analyses and increment analysis to study how the morphology of otoliths change with age, and if we can use shape and structure as a novel predictor of age.

Erica Henderson (Current M.S. Marine Science student, Nova Southeastern University,

B.S. Biology, Georgia Gwinnett College)

I am currently working towards my Master’s of Marine Science at Nova Southeastern University studying deep-sea fishes assemblage under Dr. Rosanna Milligan in the Seascape Ecology Lab. Through my thesis project, I am interested in learning how deep-sea fishes assemblages in the Gulf of Mexico have changed through the years between 2010 and 2020. I’ll be using the ataxic approach of size spectra analysis to characterize the day-night fishes assemblage patterns at different depth bins in each year. My goal is to determine how assemblage patterns have changed with dial vertical migration over time