Visual Ecology of Marine Invertebrates
The visual systems of animals vary in form and function. Consequently, different kinds of animals may perceive similar surroundings in dissimilar ways. By characterizing the spatial resolutions, spectral responses, and temporal dynamics of visual systems, we 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-water marine invertebrates including a variety of molluscs and crustaceans.
Neurobiology of Distributed Vision
Although most research on visual processing is conducted on animals with a pair of eyes on their head, we have much to learn from visual systems that deviate from this arrangement. For example, some visual systems include dozens to hundreds of separate eyes. We are studying distributed visual systems to learn how animals with simple nervous systems integrate and process the images gathered by their many eyes. In particular, we study the neurobiology of many-eyed molluscs such as scallops and chitons.
Evolution of Complex Physiological Traits
The structures and functions of physiological systems are linked inextricably to the structures and 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 evolution of complex traits, we are studying how physiological systems -- such as sensory systems and locomotor 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, self-reliance, and integrity.
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.