Left to right: Laura, Mar, Whitney, Fabiola, Ashely F. and Ashely H.

Lead PI

Mar Huertas, PhD.

Assistant Professor Department of Biology

Dr. Huertas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Texas State University. She is an expert in fish physiology and endocrinology. Dr. Huertas research has focused on the fascinating world of olfaction and chemical communication in vertebrates, using fish as a model species. The primary area of research at Texas State University centers on olfactory processes in vertebrates. The goal of her research is advancing understanding of the vertebrate olfactory process and providing new tools for managing of fish populations. Dr. Huertas teaches Fish Physiology and Vertebrate Endocrinology courses at senior and graduate level. She is also engaged in the promotion of minorities in science and is a mentor in the Society for the TXST chapter of Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics group and member of the diversity committee at her department. She built a diverse laboratory with more than 80% Hispanic and other minorities, and 70% women.

Mar’s Google Scholar

Current Lab Members

Laura Ellis, PhD.

Post-Doctoral Associate August 2020 — Present

Dr. Ellis is a fish physiologist who investigates the link between physiology and ecology, such as the effect of environmental changes on animal physiology, using fish as model. Her research focus over the past six years has been concerned with attempting to answer ecological questions, such as how can fish survive in different salinities and the removal of waste products, using a variety of molecular techniques. Specifically, she investigated physiological processes within the fish, such as ammonia tolerance, gill plasticity, cell composition, impact of drinking in the intestines, and cell junctions; all to better address questions related with aquatic species management. Her currently research at Huertas Lab center in the trout olfactory immune function, including the effects of COVID-19 in zebrafish, and the analysis of the nose nitrite transporter.

Shironjib Shinga

PhD student August 2021— Present

Chironjib is a first year Ph.D. student researching the effect of handling stress in bass maternal transfer. Chironjib received a B.S. from the University of Bremen (Germany) in Aquatic Tropical Ecology and another B. S. from the Sylhet Agricultural University (Bangladesh).

Ashley Franklin

MS Student August 2020— Present

Ashley Franklin was born in Brisbane, Australia, and have since lived in Papua New Guinea, California, Nigeria, Houston, Venezuela, Canada, Colorado and now the beautiful city of San Marcos, Texas. Her research centers in the effects of nitrite in the catfish nasal microbiome. Along the journey of growing up, her parents instilled in the love for nature and exploring! This love is what drives her towards the goal of becoming a biologist and using her knowledge for environmental management. You can often find her playing with her wonderful cats (Harley and Suzuki!), tending to the 70+ plants she obtained during quarantine, in the lab (of course), or exploring new places with her friends and family! 

Alexis Hailey

MS Student January 2021— Present

Alexis joined the Huertas Lab in January of 2021 and is studying the physiological and behavioral effects of bacterial exposure in Rainbow trout. She is currently analyzing neurosteroids (cortisol, progesterone, and estradiol) in the brain of fish. This research is exciting to Alexis because she loves to learn and understand how neurons function in vertebrates. Alexis’s favorite quote is “failure does not mean the game is over, it means try again with experience.”

Fabiola Mancha

MS Student August 2018— Present

Fabiola completed her B.S in Microbiology and M.S in Aquatic Resources at Texas State University. Her research focused on the circuitry of pathogen detection via olfaction and the subsequent physiological and behavioral changes in rainbow trout. She is passionate about education in science and human health and will be joining a medical research lab after graduation.

Whitney Ortiz

MS Student January 2019— Present

Whitney has a bachelor’s in microbiology and a master’s in aquatic resources. She studied the impact of sublethal concentrations of nitrite on the tissue microbiomes of goldfish under the mentorship of Dr. Huertas and Dr. Carlos-Shanley.

Hanna Hugues

MS Student August 2021— Present

Hanna graduated TXST May 2021 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in psychology. Her research centers in the effects of nitrite in maternal transfer in Xiphophorus species. In her free time, Hanna enjoys hiking, looking after her fish, playing with her two huskies, and searching for bugs! After completing her master’s degree she hopes to pursue higher education in either entomology or aquatic sciences, and begin work in the field of habitat conservation and fish.

Current Undergraduates Students

Elijah Wheat


Former Graduate Students

McKeena Bristow 

2017- 2019 MS – Use of pheromones in species recognition and mating in mollies.

Melody Martinez 

2017-2020 MS – Effect of nitrites and nitrates in olfactory function in goldfish.

Former Undergraduates Researchers

Isabella Jaime 2016-2018

Emily Arzola 2017-2018

Cullen Sunnier 2017-2018

Justin Cornuvier 2017-2018

Hayden Stoeber 2016-2019

Diego Valdez-Oranday 2018-2019

Travis Moore 2018-2019

James Hanna 2018-2020

Isaac Trujillo 2019-2020

Kafayat Oyejide 2019-2020

Ande Beasley 2019-2021

Hanna Hugues 2021

Iqra Amjad 2021