About Our Lab

This laboratory is dedicated to the study of the invertebrate metazoa, i.e., all multicellular animals without back bones. While research on any group of invertebrates is welcome (and often encouraged - we work on everything imaginable), the laboratory is focused on the physiology, functional morphology and systematics of the microscopic and often cryptic fauna of interstitial and planktonic environments. These micrometazoans are some of the smallest and most abundant animals on the planet, yet are surprisingly understudied and largely unknown relative to the more familiar macrofauna. Many animals are less than 1 mm in body length, and some are even as small as 0.08 mm or less! Consequently, these invertebrates are often overlooked in most studies of local, regional and global biodiversity. With this in mind, the primary role of this laboratory is to promote a greater understanding of these Lilliputian animals beyond their recognition as anatomical oddities and ecological curiosities – to overlook such wonderful animals would be to ignore some of the most diverse metazoans on the planet, not to mention the peculiarities of body plan organization that exist only among the microscopic fauna, and are therefore entirely absent from the larger benthic, nectic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Current Research

Current research is focused on several taxa: Arthropoda, Ciliophora, Gastrotricha, Platyhelminthes, Rotifera and Tardigrada. Examples of research in the lab include:

1) Evolution of coloniality and larviparity in Gnesiotrocha (Rotifera)

2) Functional morphology and ultrastructure of muscles in Rotifera

3) Systematics of marine Gastrotricha

4) Histology and functional morphology of Whip Scorpions (Thelyphonida)

We employ the following techniques in my laboratory: cyto- and immunohistochemistry, ultramicrotomy and paraffin sectioning, DIC microscopy, widefield epifluorescence microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, 3D digital imaging, and molecular sequencing.

Funding for the laboratory comes from various grants through the National Science Foundation. Please see the Research page for additional details