Welcome to the Loyola University Newsroom

Print this page

Biology alumna discovers unique fauna in Australia

Loyola press release - December 14, 2007

(New Orleans)—Loyola alumna Marisa Gibb, A’05, has spent a large amount of time discovering some of the tiniest critters on earth.

Gibb, a Loyola University New Orleans biology alumna, has been studying meiofauna, animals that are small enough to live in the water that exists in the spaces between grains of sand. Not much research has been accumulated on these animals before. “It may even turn out that some of the animals I have found have not been classified before,” said Gibb.

Meiofauna eat bacteria and fungus and help break down materials that pollute their environment. The meiofauna Gibb is studying are found in seabed samples taken from the two most southern coral atolls in the world, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, on Australia’s east coast. There are worms with multiple tentacles, armor-plated shellfish, and hairy-legged mites, and they are all hundreds of times smaller than a grain of sand.

At Loyola, Gibb studied biology and worked under Frank Jordan, Ph.D., chair of biological sciences. Gibb completed her bachelor of science at Loyola University and then attended Southern Cross University (SCU) within the school of environmental science and management. “Frank did everything in his power to assist me in following through with the idea,” said Gibb. Gibb chose SCU because there she could study marine and environmental sciences, and it was in Australia, near the rainforest and the sea. As her adviser and supervisor for her research project, Jordan was also instrumental in inspiring her to focus her ambition in conservation of the Florida Everglades; Gibb’s future plans are to work on the ecological restoration of the Florida Everglades.

“My expectations for other institutions have become very high because I have been so prepared by my experience at Loyola. I had a great time there and it introduced me to things that I would have otherwise not been passionate about.”

For more information, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at rhritter@loyno.edu or (504) 861-5448.