Eyes and vision are often considered mind-bogglingly complex, begging the question of how evolution could have produced them. We are addressing this question by examining the components of eyes and vision in a phylogenetic context, to trace those components to their very origins.

Arthropods have more types of eye design that any other phylum. How and why did this diversity arise? We are combining a variety of tools and approaches from next generation sequencing to phylogenetics to behavioral studies in order to understand why there is so much variation in arthropod eyes.

Evolutionary convergence provides an element of replicability within the singular history of life, and can yield insight into the most general evolutionary questions. Do convergent traits utilize the same genes? We are examining these types of questions in mollusks like octopus, squid, and chitons.

Bioluminescence has evolved over 40 times independently in marine systems. We use the diverse, bioluminescent mating and defense displays of Carribean ostracods to understand the molecular basis of bioluminescence and how bioluminescence contributes to speciation.

Research Archive

The world is characterized by a spectacular variety of life. But loss of biodiversity through extinction is one of the most pronounced forms of environmental change. Understanding how biodiversity loss will impact the productivity and sustainability of Earth's natural ecosystems is a primary goal of modern science.