Dr. Joseph Pitula

Professor, Parasitology & Molecular Biology, Department of Natural Science
University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)

Phone: (410)621-2980/(410) 651-6666 | Email: jspitula@umes.edu | Fax (410) 651-7739

Curriculum Vitae

  • Director of Research, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 2020-Present
  • Project Director, UMES NSF Bridge to Doctorate Program, 2018-Present
  • Director of UMES Unit, National Park Service North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, 2008-Present
  • Graduate Program Campus DirectorEMST AOS Committee,  UMES (MEES), 2012-2020


New York State University, Buffalo (2001)
PhD, Microbiology

New York State University, Buffalo

Rutgers State University, New Jersey (1989)
B.S., Biology

Research Interests

  1. Environmental contamination by PFAS and biological impacts
  2. Blue crab disease and physiological responses
  3. Microbial ecology of the Maryland Coastal Bays and Delmarva Peninsula

Selected Publications

  1. Rosales D, Ellett A, Jacobs J, Ozbay G, Parveen S, and Pitula JS. (2022) Investigating the Relationship between Nitrate, Total Dissolved Nitrogen, and Phosphate with Abundance of Pathogenic Vibrios and Harmful Algal Blooms in Rehoboth Bay, Delaware. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 88 (14), e00356-22
  2. Omagamre EW, Mansourian Y, Liles D, Tolosa T, Zebelo SA, and Pitula JS. (2022) Perfluorobutanoic Acid (PFBA) Induces a Non-Enzymatic Oxidative Stress Response in Soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) Int. J. Mol. Sci. 23 (17), 9934
  3. Wolny, J.L.; McCollough, C.B.; Rosales, D.S., and Pitula JS. (2022). Harmful algal bloom species in the St. Martin River: Surveying the headwaters of northern Maryland’s coastal bays. J. Coastal Res., 38: 86–98.
  4. Hennesy J, Wolny JL, Mullican JE, Rosales DS, Pitula JS, and Love JW. (2021) Identification of Planktothrix (Cyanobacteria) Blooms and Effects on the Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Community in the Non-Tidal Potomac River, USA. Virginia Journal of Science 72: 1/2. Doi: 10.25778/qva2-b268.
  5. Lycett KA, Shields JD, Chung, JS, and Pitula, JS. (2020) Population Structure of Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in the Maryland Coastal Bays. J Shellfish Res. 39: 699-713
  6. Omagamre EW, Ojo F, Zebelo SA, and Pitula JS. (2020) Influence of Perfluorobutanoic Acid (PFBA) on the Developmental Cycle and Damage Potential of the Beet Armyworm Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 79:500-507.
  7. Chung JS, Huang X, Bachvaroff TR, Lawrence A, Pitula JS, Jagus R. (2019)  Reovirus Infection Changes Transcript Levels of Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 4E (eIF4E) Family Members and eIF4E-Binding Protein (4E-Bp) in the Blue Crab Callinectes sapidus. J. Shellfish Res. 38 :23-34.DOI: 10.2983/035.038.0102
  8. Lewis NI, Wolny JL, Achenbach JC, Ellis L, Pitula JS, Rafuse C, Rosales DS, McCarron P. (2018) Identification, growth and toxicity assessment of Coolia Meunier (Dinophyceae) from Nova Scotia, Canada. Harmful Algae, 75: 45-56.
  9. Lycett KA, Chung JS, and Pitula JS. (2018) The relationship of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) size class and molt stage to disease acquisition and intensity of Hematodinium perezi infections. PloSOne. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192237
  10. Lycett KA and Pitula JS. (2017)Disease ecology of Hematodinium perezi in a high salinity estuary: investigating seasonal trends in environmental detection. Dis Aquat Org, 124:169-179. doi: 10.3354/dao03112.
  11. Chung JS, Pitula JS, Schott E, Alvarez JV, Maurer L, Lycett KA.(2015) Elevated water temperature increases the levels of reo-like virus and selected innate immunity genes in hemocytes and hepatopancreas of adult female blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 47:511-20. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2015.09.027.


Dr. Joe Pitula graduated from Rutgers University in 1989 with a B.S. in biology. He then worked 6 years as a lab technician in quality control at Nutrition International, a food testing laboratory. He went on to join the University at Buffalo, where he earned his Ph.D. in microbiology in 2001, focusing on pathogenic organisms. His field of emphasis was two RNA binding proteins from Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and how these proteins regulate the formation of ribosomes. He continued his work in RNA binding proteins when he went on to post-doctoral studies in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Wisconsin. There he studied the role of phosphorylation on the binding activity of Iron Regulatory Protein-1 (IRP-1). IRP-1 also has enzymatic function, and went on to demonstrate that phosphorylation has a dramatic impact in controlling substrate preference during its enzymatic function as the cytosolic aconitase. In 2004 he joined the Department of Natural Sciences at UMES, where he has continued his research interests in both protist parasites and enzymology.

Dr. Pitula’s research interests focus on the application of molecular approaches to various ecological issues. Currently his lab is analyzing the environmental distribution of PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” in both marine and terrestrial systems. Research studies are also being conducted to analyze how these chemical may influence the growth and molting patterns in both plants and arthropods. He has also devoted significant amount of his career to studying marine pathogens, primarily a protistan parasite (Hematodinium perezi). Finally, his lab continues to be interested in various microbial species that lead to various harmful algal blooms, and nutrients in the environment that may stimulate their proliferation.

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