The Ecology of symbiosis in some temperate sea anemones


Speaker:  Brian Bingham

Affiliation: Western Washington University

Title: The ecology of symbiosis in some temperate sea anemones

Speaker’s lab interests: We are interested in symbioses between cnidarians (sea anemones, corals, and their relatives) and single-celled algae that reside within them and provide them with photosynthetic energy. These symbioses are particularly widespread in the tropics and are a key feature of reef- building corals, but we focus our attention on symbiotic sea anemones in the genus Anthopleura along the Pacific coast of North America. Along the northern extent of their range, these sea anemones can host one or both of two distinct symbionts: the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium and the chlorophyte Elliptochloris. This flexible association with symbionts from completely different phyla is unique among cnidarians and provides a fascinating system for testing a variety of hypotheses about the biology of cnidarian-algal symbioses.

When: Sept. 4, 2014 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Mya Breitbart

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Published in Fall 2014

Come and enjoy a pint of science

TAMPA, Fl - Join Mya Breitbart in “We’re only human” an expression so easily used but so bad at describing what complex and wonderful organisms we really are.  Dr. Breitbart will be discussing, Human beings or microbial masses? Introducing the tiny bugs that make us who we are.  For more information visit our Facebook page.

The Ferrojan Horse Hypothesis

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Chelsea Bonnain, Mya Breitbart, and Kristen Buck recently published a paper in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science entitled "The Ferrojan Horse Hypothesis: Iron-Virus Interactions in the Ocean". This exciting interdisciplinary paper ( suggests that phages (viruses that infect bacteria) may play an important role in the cycling of iron, which is a limiting trace metal in the ocean. 

Mya Breitbart

ST. PETERSBURG - Mya’s marine genomics laboratory, currently consisting of 8 graduate students, 2 postdocs, and 2 undergraduate interns, had an extremely successful year.   Her lab continues to lead the way in the field of environmental viral discovery, publishing findings of new viruses in a wide range of organisms, including shrimp, dragonflies, cockroaches, and bats!  Especially exciting was the first discovery of viruses in copepods, which are the most abundant animals in the oceans.  This study, which has important implications for oceanic food webs and biogeochemistry, was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  In 2013, Mya was recognized as one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant Ten” Young Researchers, received Honorable Mention for the USF Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, and was a highlighted FabFems Role Model.  Students from the Breitbart lab performed research and gave presentations all over the world, including Brazil, Bolivia, Scotland, and China.  Finally, Mya co-founded the “Tampa Bay’s Tiniest Biology” club with Shannon McQuaig from St. Petersburg College to bring together the microbiology researchers in Tampa Bay.   This monthly seminar series has been a huge success, with an average of 75 participants at each meeting.

Get to know Dr. Mya Breitbart.

Mya Breitbart awarded the 2015 STEM Woman of the Year

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - It’s that time of year again to show support of a local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program and the organization who for 7 years has had a tremendous focus on STEM education for girls K-12.  There are many men and woman in the community who provide time in mentoring and program curriculum creation/facilitation to help Girls Inc. of Pinellas be able to offer a top notch STEM program.  Girls Inc. of Pinellas recognizes a woman in a STEM career who provides mentorship and supports local/National community programs focused on inspiring girls in STEM.

Girls Inc. of Pinellas will hold it’s 2015 STEM Woman of the Year Luncheon on May 13th11:30-1:00 at the Birchwood Hotel 340 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. 

The 2015 STEM Woman of the Year  award recipient is an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida in the College of Marine Science.

Mya Breitbart is a National Academy of Sciences’ Kavli Frontiers Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and was recognized as one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant Ten” young scientists in 2013.  Mya’s research uses genomic sequencing to explore the identify, diversity and distribution of viruses in a wide range of environments, ranging from seawater to sewage.  In addition, her laboratory has created new methods for discovering novel viral pathogens causing disease in plants and animals.  Mya is a lifelong Girl Scout and has positively impacted girls in the Tampa Bay region through creating and equipping a fully-functional marine science laboratory at the local Girl Scout camp Wai Lani. Mya has hosted marine science and technology workshops for over 200 girls on top of running numerous camps.  Mya is also involved as a faculty mentor for the USF Oceanography Camp for Girls, a volunteer moderator for the National Ocean Science Spoonbill Bowl, a FabFems role model, a Florida Girls Collaborative Project leadership team member and an advisory board member for the Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation. 

Congratulations to Mya Breitbart on her recognition as Girls Inc. of Pinellas STEM Woman of the Year!

Although Girls Inc. is a 50+ year organization it’s efforts in our local community are very much a best kept secret.  In an effort to bring them the resources and financially support girls to attend this gemstone program Girls Inc. of Pinellas relies heavily on contributions.  The goal this year is to raise $35K through luncheon table sponsorships and personal contributions from table guests.

Here is a link to the 2014 STEM Woman of the Year event.


More Information:

STEM Invitation 2015

STEM Sponsorship 2015

Introduction to Girls Inc. 2015


Framework for a Marine Biodiversity Observing Network

ST. PETERSBURG - The most recent issue of Oceanography includes a paper by a team of marine scientists from around the nation on a framework for a Marine Biodiversity Observing Network (MBON). The keys to building an effective MBON will be to:

  1. Determine the minimum set of observations needed to define ocean biodiversity, and
  2. Establish connections between existing international ecological time-series programs and standardize methodologies to enable comparison of data.

Authors - Frank E. Muller-KargerMya Breitbart and Enrique Montes.

Read the full article

Keep Pinellas Beautiful, with Alumni Stephanie Lawler-Ellington

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - USF College of Marine Science Alumni, Stephanie Lawler-Ellington, from Keep Pinellas Beautiful, recently shared her career development experience with the College of Marine Science. 

During my undergraduate career, I developed as an environmental advocate for the USFSP community, taking on leadership roles in both campus and local environmental organizations. The primary focus of these organizations was to work within the local community through environmental based outreach and activism. Upon completion of my bachelor’s degree, I continued my studies earning a master’s degree with the USF College of Marine Science. This was by far one of the most rewarding and challenging stages of my life. I was granted the opportunity to work with Drs. Christina Kellogg, Mya Breitbart, and Pamela Hallock Muller who directly influenced my personal and professional growth. Through their guidance, I refined my analytical thinking, scientific writing, and verbal communication skills. The experiences and relationships developed during these years laid the foundation upon which all of my future success will be built.

Upon completion of my master’s degree, I was hired by Keep Pinellas Beautiful as their Program and Volunteer Coordinator. This position fully utilizes the skills and tools acquired during my academic career. Furthermore, this position aligns with my passion for the marine environment and my desire to empower future generations. As one of the leading environmental nonprofit organizations in Pinellas County, Keep Pinellas Beautiful works to conserve and beautify our natural environment through educational outreach and engagement. Our objective is to develop programs which instill pride and individual responsibility for ones community by actively partnering with individuals, local schools, and other community based organizations. As the Program and Volunteer Coordinator for Keep Pinellas Beautiful, I strive to increase our impact through the organization and management of educational events, community cleanup and beautification projects, as well as grant based programming. To ensure these initiatives are successful, I lead the efforts of volunteers who provide tangible and incremental contributions toward our long term goals.

I am highly motivated to increase our organization’s impact and partnerships with the county and continue to seek relationships with citizens, businesses and organizations who desire to Keep Pinellas Beautiful.

Written By: Stephanie Lawler-Ellington

Visit Keep Pinellas Beautiful

Published in Careers