Faculty & Staff Directory
- Assistant Professor
- Environmental Microbiologist
- Marine Biologist
- PhD, Zoology (Coral Microbiology), University of Hawaii at Manoa, (2013)
- MA, Biology (Microbial Symbiosis), College of William & Mary, (2003)
- BA, Biology/Marine Science, Rutgers University, (2001)
Dr. Salerno is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy where she teaches Environmental Microbiology and Coral Reef Ecology courses. Her research interests focus on symbiotic and free-living microorganisms and the role that they play in maintaining and destabilizing organism health and ecosystem function. Recognizing the important link between human health and ecosystem health, this research is approached through the lens of seeking to advance basic science, while also developing environmental monitoring tools, practical applications, and policy guidance for environmental resource management and conservation. Dr. Salerno uses traditional microbiological techniques, as well as molecular biology, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and microscopy to characterize microbial (bacterial, archaeal, and fungal) diversity and function in organismal and environmental microbiomes and how they respond to environmental change (temperature, sedimentation, chemical exposure). Previous projects have focused on characterizing the biogeography of bacterial communities associated with reef-building corals in the Pacific and how these communities respond to environmental change; the transmission and nutritional contribution of bacterial symbionts in deep-sea bivalves; mapping the microspatial distribution of soil microorganisms; and the impacts of hydrocarbons and chemical dispersant on the structure and function of deep-sea coral and shipwreck microbial communities. The Salerno Laboratory is currently working on projects pertaining to coral disease, impacts of stream restoration on forest oil microbes, and microbes as biological indicators of aquatic health.
Dr. Salerno also engages in science communication and interdisciplinary work at the intersection of science, policy, and diplomacy. She previously worked on coastal and ocean issues in the U.S. House of Representatives as a NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Fellow and served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Office of Economic Policy. In this capacity she advised and coordinated U.S. policy on science and technology, energy, and oceans issues across U.S. federal agencies and in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
- Role of marine biofilms in microbially-influenced corrosion (Collaborator: Dr. Leila Hamdan, USM)
- Diversity and function of deep-sea coral-associated microorganisms
- Deep-sea wood-colonizing fungi (Collaborator: Dr. Leila Hamdan, USM)
- Biogeography of shallow-water coral-associated micoroorganisms
- Identification and characterization of coral and fish pathogens (Collaborator: Dr. Esther Peters, GMU)
- Microspatial distribution of soil microorganisms (Collaboration with U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
- Role of the microbiome in mud crab susceptibility to parasitic barnacles (Collaborator: Dr. Amy Fowler, GMU)
- Identifying microbial indicators of aquatic health in an urban watershed (Collaborator: Dr. Benoit Van Aken, GMU)
- Impacts of stream restoration on soil microbes (Collaboration: National Park Service)
My overarching teaching philosophy is to “create memorable connections by making material accessible to the student.” Every person has the ability to learn - the challenge is finding a conduit that enables each student to connect with and understand the material in their own way. My overall approach to implementing this teaching philosophy involves diversifying the methods I use to communicate scientific information to students and engage them in the learning process. My primary goals are 1) to generate scientific knowledge and assess scientific literacy in all types of learners by incorporating multiple teaching strategies and evaluations into my curriculum and 2) to reinforce scientific concepts by creating relatable and memorable science experiences for students. To achieve these goals, I incorporate a number of instructional methods including: teaching science as inquiry, targeting multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic), and experiential learning.
Current Courses Taught:
- Environmental Microbiology Essentials
- Environmental Microbiology Essentials Laboratory
- Coral Reef Ecology, Health, and Conservation
- Coral Reef Ecology, Health, and Conservation Field Experience abroad
- Mugge, R. L., Brock, M. L., Salerno, J. L., Damour, M., Church, R. A., Lee, J. S., & Hamdan, L. J. (2019). Deep-Sea Biofilms, Historic Shipwreck Preservation and the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00048
- Hamdan, L.J., Salerno, J.L., Joye, S.B., and Damour, M. The impact of the Deepwater Horizonblowout on historic shipwreck-associated sediment microbiomes in the northern Gulf of Mexico. 2018. Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 9057. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27350-z
- Salerno, J.L., Little, B., Lee, J., and L.J. Hamdan. Exposure to crude oil and chemical dispersant may impact marine microbial biofilm composition and steel corrosion. 2018. Frontiers in Marine Science5, doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00196
- Salerno, J.L., Bowen, B.W., and M.S. Rappé. Biogeography of planktonic and coral-associated microorganisms across the Hawaiian Archipelago. 2016. FEMS Microbial Ecology 92(8): pii: fiww109. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiw109.
- Salerno, J.L., D.R. Reineman, R.D. Gates, and M.S. Rappé. 2011. The effect of a sub lethal temperature elevation on the structure of bacterial communities associated with the coral Porites Compressa. Journal of Marine BiologyArticle ID 969173, 9 pages, doi: 10.1155/2011/969173.
- 2018 National Oceanographic Partnership Program’s (NOPP) 2017 Excellence in Partnering Award for the “Gulf of Mexico – Shipwreck, Corrosion, Hydrocarbon Exposure, Microbiology, and Archaeology (GOM-SCHEMA) project
- 2017-2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship