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 despite the PI's expertise!), 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 the physiology, functional morphology, neurobiology, and systematics of species from several taxa: Arthropoda, Ciliophora, Gastrotricha, Platyhelminthes, Rotifera and Tardigrada. Examples of research in the lab include: 1) Evolution of asexuality in Gastrotricha; 2) Evolution of coloniality and larviparity in Gnesiotrocha (Rotifera); 3) Systematics and muscular architecture in marine Tardigrada; 4) Parasitome of sea turtles; 5) Histology and functional morphology of vinegaroons (Thelyphonida); and 6) Hypersymbioses in freshwater systems (viruses in algae in ciliates in metazoans). The techniques used in my laboratory include cyto- and immunohistochemistry, microtomy, DIC microscopy, widefield epifluorescence microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, 3D digital imaging, and molecular sequencing.