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Tracie Baker

Principal Investigator and Director

Dr. Baker has substantial academic training and research in developmental biology, environmental toxicology, genetics, and animal health. Her academic training has been multidisciplinary in nature with an interest in toxicology beginning as an undergraduate at Cleveland State University, where she investigated water pollution effects on zebra mussel survival and behavioral ecology. She earned her Master of Science at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks while researching genes involved in toxin production by harmful algal blooms and bacterial species. After earning her DVM (University of Wisconsin – Madison) and a certificate in fish health medicine from the State of Wisconsin, she was an assistant researcher investigating clinical improvements in fish medicine before accepting an NIEHS-funded postdoctoral position that evolved into a PhD program at UW – Madison under the mentorship of Dr. Dick Peterson. Her research was the first to show transgenerational inheritance of disease using a zebrafish model. In 2013, she competed successfully for an NIH K01 award through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Dr. Baker found that low level, dioxin-induced decreased fertility across multiple generations following early developmental exposure is mediated through the male germline, and has been invited to present these findings at several national and international conferences, including at several workshops hosted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She started her own laboratory at Wayne State University in 2016 and transitioned to a tenured Associate Professor position in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida in August 2021. In this time, the WATER lab has published primary articles that highlight our knowledge and skills uncovering the critical genes and epigenetic regulation underlying adverse health endpoints and provide critical insights into transgenerational, environmentally induced disease. Recent publications include the investigation of single-cell transcriptomic changes involved in EDC-induced infertility, the occurrence and effects of endocrine disruption due to environmental contaminants we measured in Detroit waterbodies, exogenous factors linked to the development of childhood leukemia, occurrence of microplastics in drinking water and the consequential impact on human health, evaluation of microbiome changes due to drinking water filtration, and the use of novel assay systems to evaluate health effects of volatile organic chemicals. As a previous NCAA Division I swimmer, Tracie enjoys being a faculty advisor for the WSU Swimming and Diving team. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her wife, daughter, and their two dogs, participating in open water swim events and triathlons, traveling, and being outside.


Danielle Meyer

Post-doctoral fellow

Danielle is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida. In 2021, she earned her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Wayne State University, after majoring in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Hope College in 2015. Since joining the WATER lab in 2016, her doctoral (and ongoing) research has explored the lifespan and legacy health effects of developmental exposure to environmental endocrine-disrupting toxicants, including TCDD (dioxin), lead, and nanoplastics. Her research goal is to use the zebrafish model to look at the specific timing of molecular events during early development that become dysregulated by endocrine disruption, leading to effects ranging from infertility to neurological dysfunction later in life and in following generations. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, music, podcasts, theater, researching and exploring new places, and cuddling all available fuzzy animals.


Mallory Llewellyn

Graduate student

Mallory obtained her bachelor’s degree in Physiology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle. She worked in clinical research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center where she used CRISPR and Base Editor technologies to treat blood diseases. She has long been interested in the negative health effects of pollution and drinking contaminated water. This fascination pulled her to Florida to study environmental toxicology in Dr. Baker’s lab. As a PhD candidate in Physiological Sciences, she is quantifying and characterizing microplastics and PFAS in the Great Lakes. This data will inform her laboratory zebrafish study where she will test the effects of ingesting microplastic fibers in combination with PFAS. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, swimming, mushroom hunting, and reading with her cat Bellatrix.


Mackenzie Connell

Graduate student

Mackenzie joined the WATER lab in 2017 while pursuing her B.S. in public health with a minor in sociology. She then went on to earn a Master of Public Health Degree from Wayne State University with a concentration in public health practice. Mackenzie has had the opportunity to learn about environmental health and contribute to health research in her time with the WATER Lab, Michigan Antibiotic Resistance Reduction Coalition, and Henry Ford Health System. Combining her background and education in Public Health Analytics, Mackenzie plans to build on these foundational skills as she works toward her PhD in Public Health at the University of Florida. Mackenzie has a passion for maternal and reproductive health and will continue to investigate the environmental stressors that affect organisms during critical reproductive windows. When she’s not in the lab, you can find Mackenzie on the water, reading, or enjoying quality time exploring Florida with her fiancé and dogs, Ari and Pelican.


Emily Kintzele

Graduate student

Emily received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. She has a diverse research background from working in a small animal veterinary hospital with dogs and cats to studying conservation biology and animal behavior in Kenya with elephants and giraffes. Emily’s work with zebrafish in the WATER lab started as an undergraduate student and has led her to this program where she is working towards her PhD in Public Health with a concentration in One Health. Outside of the lab she enjoys playing tennis, painting, and spending time with her dogs Jack, Diamond, and Heart.


Kimberly McFarlane

Graduate student

Dr. McFarlane is a proud graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She joined the Baker Water lab in Fall 2023 as a PhD student and McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Environmental and Global Health, with a concentration in One Health. Her current research involves studying the epigenetic effects of environmental toxins. Earning her B.A. in Environmental Studies from FSU and a M.S. in Biological Sciences from FAU, Dr. McFarlane found passion and satisfaction in scientific research, and aims to encourage more people of color to enter research fields. When not in the lab or at a vet clinic, Dr. McFarlane can be found volunteering with youth from underrepresented backgrounds, spending time with her family, partner, and dogs (Lisa and Rocky), or curing up with a good book.

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Trent Gautney

Research Coordinator

Trent is a Research Coordinator working in Dr. Baker’s WATER Lab and Dr. Sarah McKune’s lab in the Department of Environmental and Global Health. Trent received his Master of Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) from the University of Florida in 2023. With a background in community organizing, Trent completed his field practicum for his master’s program in Guyana, where he spent the summer of 2022 working with a local civil society organization to assist in improving community involvement in electoral reform. Trent’s research interests include intersectional and transdisciplinary approaches to global health and development practices. In his free time, Trent enjoys exploring nature, listening to podcasts, and spending time with his cat, Ahsoka. 


Abby Hahn

Lab Manager

Abby graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Asian Studies. She joined the WATER lab team shortly after graduating in 2023 and has since enjoyed taking a deep-dive into the world of water. In her free time, Abby likes to read, garden and play soccer.


Nicole Dennis

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Dennis is a research assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida where she uses her multidisciplinary academic training in chemistry, biology, and toxicology to investigate adverse health outcomes from real world toxicant exposures. Her research experience began in 2016 as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar at Central Michigan University. There she developed nonlethal techniques for assessing the health of threatened or endangered freshwater mussels inhabiting contaminated river basins. In 2018, she earned a dual-major bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Biology: Natural Resources. Dr. Dennis then entered a master’s program that evolved into a Ph.D. program under the guidance of Dr. Todd Anderson at Texas Tech University and earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology in 2021. Her dissertation was the first to show that carboxylated and short-chain PFAS were more toxic to birds than sulfonated PFAS regardless of chain length even though sulfonated PFAS were more bioaccumulative. This outcome helped to characterize the chronic toxicity of select PFAS and their binary mixtures to birds, spurring regulatory action and providing the toxicological reference values necessary for completing comprehensive PFAS risk assessments for environments where birds reside. In 2021, Dr. Dennis competed successfully for a NIEHS T32 postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Riverside under the mentorship of Dr. Jay Gan, where she led a three-year EPA-funded biosolids land-application study. The NIEHS T32 fellowship was renewed through 2024 allowing her to develop analytical methods for examining a complex chemical mixture through a biosolids-soil-crop continuum. There she completed two large-scale field studies using several Class A biosolids treatments to grow food crops for chemical residue analysis. Her analytical methods were the first developed to accommodate quantification of a mixture of endocrine disrupting chemicals from more than three major chemical classes using a single extraction and instrument analysis. Additionally, her analytical methods were the first to detect the highly toxic tire wear particle (6PPD-q), lidocaine, and 11 other chemicals in US biosolids. Dr. Dennis is broadly interested in how low-dose chronic environmental exposures to complex chemical mixtures affect ecosystem and human health. Her key focuses are on analytical method development as well as understanding the occurrence, fate, transport, and risk of emerging and legacy contaminant mixtures within both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. After gaining zebrafish exposure and transcriptomics experience with Dr. Tracie Baker, she aims to establish her own research lab in hopes that she can also provide research support to others from similar disadvantaged backgrounds.

2023 Undergraduates

Left to right: 


Gabrielle GonzalezUF University Research Scholars Program

Dayita BanerjeeUF Honors Program

Brianna Vo - UF Honors Program

Grace Winny

Amelia Paquette

Rachel Caspar



Emma Cavaneau - UF Honors Program

Emily Kintzele

Ashley Guarino - UF University Research Scholars Program


2022 Undergraduates


Left to right:


Ashley GuarinoUF University Research Scholars Program

Dayita BanerjeeUF Honors Program

Gabrielle GonzalezUF University Research Scholars Program

Haley DiefenbaughEmergency & Critical Care, UF Small

Animal Hospital

Courtney Kennedy

Meguine Duvert


Brianna Vo - UF Honors Program 

2020/2021 Undergraduates


Mackenzie Connell (WSU reBUILD scholar)

Destiny Johnson (WSU IMSD program)

Abraham Soto (WSU IMSD program)

Mohammad Abdi (WSU reBUILD scholar)

Aicha Khalaf (WSU Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program)

Anna-Maria Petriv

2019 Undergraduates


Mackenzie Connell (WSU Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program and reBUILD scholar)
Abraham Soto (WSU IMSD program)
Anna-Maria Petriv
Michelle Gorrell (WSU SURE scholar)
Destiny Johnson (WSU IMSD program)

2018 Undergraduates


Andrea Wahls
Anna-Maria Petriv (WSU Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program)
Abraham Soto (WSU IMSD program)
Mackenzie Connell (WSU reBUILD scholar)
Zane Tolbert (WSU SURE and SURF scholar)
Annelise Crabtree (WSU reBUILD scholar)
Nemer Hijazi

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