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 is conducted on animals that have a pair of eyes on their head, we have much to learn from animals with visual systems that deviate from this familiar arrangement. For example, some invertebrates have visual systems that include dozens to hundreds of image-forming eyes. We are studying how these animals use their relatively simple nervous systems to integrate and process visual information. In particular, we are studying the neurobiology 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 particular 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. To better understand the histories of complex traits, we are studying how physiological systems, such as sensory systems and locomotory systems, co-evolve in molluscs and crustaceans.
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, 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.