Visual Ecology of Marine Invertebrates
The visual systems of animals vary in form and function. Consequently, different kinds of animals perceive similar surroundings in dissimilar ways. By characterizing the spatial resolutions, spectral responses, and temporal dynamics of visual systems, we can identify the visual cues that influence how animals detect predators and prey, hide themselves from detection, and navigate through their environments. We study the visual ecology of shallow-dwelling marine invertebrates including a variety of molluscs and crustaceans.
Neurobiology of Distributed Vision
Although most research on visual processing has been conducted on animals with a pair of eyes on their head and a centralized nervous system, we have much to learn from animals with very different sorts of visual systems. For example, some invertebrates have dozens of image-forming eyes and decentralized nervous systems. We are studying how these animals process visual information and control visually-influenced behaviors. In particular, we are studying the neuroethology of many-eyed molluscs such as scallops and chitons.
Co-evolution of Complex Physiological Traits
From an integrative and organismal perspective, the function of any physiological system is linked inextricably to the functions of other physiological systems. Studying the functional relationships between physiological systems is necessary if we are to understand how organisms evolve as integrated wholes rather than collections of disparate parts. Consequently, we are studying the co-evolution of physiological components of animals, such as their sensory, nervous, and locomotory systems.
If you are interested in pursuing a PhD or MS with us, we would love to hear from you! My goal is for all graduate students to establish independent research programs. That said, before applying, please consider carefully the systems that we have experience working with and the sorts of questions that we're asking. The traits I most value in prospective students are curiosity, intellectual engagement, integrity, and a capacity for self-assessment.
We welcome undergraduates to apply to work in the lab. We believe that undergraduates benefit from being responsible for their own independent projects. Previous lab experience is unnecessary, but please take a close look at our on-going projects and come to us with an idea of which project you'd like to contribute to and/or what lab techniques you'd like to learn.