Dr. Rosanna J. 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

Thomas Ingalls

Thomas Ingalls (Current M.S Marine Science student, 2017 B.S Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University)

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.

Krista Scheuerman

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


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. 

Emily Witt

Emily Witt (Current M.S. Marine Science Student, Nova Southeastern University, B.S. Biology, 2019, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire)

My current research involves the examination of diel vertical migration patterns in fishes in relation to biomass. Utilizing data from the DEEPEND Project, this study will hopefully allow us to translate these migration patterns into rates of carbon movement throughout the upper ocean.

Natassia Flegal

Natassia Flegal (Current M.S. Marine Science student, Nova Southeastern University, 2018 B.S. Environmental Science and Policy, University of South Florida)

I am interested in bridging the gap between marine biology and environmental science, specifically studying human impacts on all marine environments, including the deep sea. In the Seascape Ecology Lab, I am studying size structuring of fishes using data from the DEEPEND Project, analyzing how fish body sizes change over time and vary with different environmental factors. I am a first year M.S. student at NSU and am considering various possibilities for my thesis with the help of Dr. Milligan.

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.