What we do


We study the biology and behavior of ctenophores and other gelatinous planktonic marine organisms.  Our tools include light and electron microscopy and molecular biological methods, as well as basic biological investigations into the physiology and behavior of these fascinating animals. Our work has ecological, phylogenetic and cell biology inference and application.  There's lots to be done, and I encourage a broadly interested group of students. Our current specific project areas include:

1. Microbes of the coastal ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi.  This is a marine microbial ecology study.  Our work has implications for the coastal ecology, marine health and is an indicator of global marine environmental changes.

2. Wound repair in the ctenophore Mnemiopsis.  Ctenophores are capable of very rapid, scar-free wound repair. We are examining the cellular organization and cell signaling events of this model system.

3. Organization of special cells and organ systems in ctenophores.  This constitutes a series of ultrastructural and morphological analyses of several different ctenophores.

4. Identification of new ctenophores.  New ctenophores have been identified from the coast of Panama.

5. Ultrastructural analyses of salp organization and function.  These open ocean herbivores have much to reveal with regard to their structure and functional organization. 

7. Ctenophore physiology and behavior.  Very little is known of ctenophore neurobiology and neural pathways; we have the tools to approach these problems. Basic research by undergraduate students in the lab recently also revealed unexpected behavioral modes in the very complex lobate, Mnemiopsis leidyi.