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My research focuses on the evolution of visual systems and color signals using studies of comparative molecular evolution, protein modeling, behavior, and electrophysiology in a diversity of animals.


Mireille Steck


Sitara Palecanda

PhD student studying larval stomatopod diversity. Looking at species level diversity and changes in vision throughout embryonic and larval development in Pullosquilla.

Tom Iwanicki Profile.jpeg

Marisa McDonald

PhD student investigating larval stomatopod visual systems.  Focusing on understanding the developmental physiology and anatomy of the visual system evolution in stomatopods with a focus on the larval transition.

Tom Iwanicki

PhD student aiming to understand evolution through genetics and sensory biology. Current systems include bioluminescent crustaceans: decapods, amphipods, copepods - all the pods! Connecting visual gene diversity and bioluminescence.

Hannah Moon

MS student studying the visual systems of procellariiform seabirds. Focusing on the spectral, temporal, and molecular aspects of vision to help reduce anthropogenic impacts of light on birds.


Melissa Atkins

MS student studying the visual evolution in bat flies through genetics and proteomics. Aiming to understand evolutionary trajectories of broader ectoparasite trends in visual system reductions.

Graduate Students


Noah Simon

Post-bac looking at different batfly species varying degrees of eye reduction. Characterizing the eye morphology and opsin expression profiles of different batfly species will help to gain insights into the regressive evolution of visual systems.


Kristina Theam

Undergraduate student working on molecularly identifying stomatopod larvae using COI barcoding.



Tom Cronin

PI, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Biological Sciences, USA

Justin Marshall

ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, University of Queensland Brain Institute, Brisbane, AUS

Nick Roberts

Senior Researcher, University of Bristol, UK

Mike Bok

BBSRC Fellow, University of Bristol, UK

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Jon Cohen

Associate Professor

University of Delaware

Katharina Dittmar

​Associate Professor

University of Buffalo, New York

Kate Feller

Marie Curie Fellow

Cambridge University, UK

Jenny Gumm

Assistant Professor

Stephen F. Austin State University

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Shane Ahyong

Senior Research Scientist

Australian Museum

Roy Caldwell


University of California Berkeley

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Heather Bracken Grissom

Assistant Professor, Florida International University of Biscayne Bay Campus, Florida, USA

Tammy Frank

Associate Professor

NOVA Southeastern University

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Albert Chan

Erdine Sylvain

Shirley Lin

Elizabeth Winnicki

Alexa Collins


Ryan Shiesha

Jessica Chen

Lauren Ho

Erica Shin

Past lab members



Species ID: Lysiosquillina maculata             Common name: Giant Mantis Shrimp


Frank lives up to his name, at only 2 lab years old (his time in the lab) he is already a whopping 15cm! While he spends most of his day working on perfecting his sand burrow, he will occasionally come to the top of his burrow to investigate the world. Subsisting on an entirely shrimp diet, Frank has become quite content with his role as a lab mascot and is well loved.

Lady Googles

Species ID: Odontodactylus brevirostris      Common name: Shortnose Mantis Shrimp


Lady Googles is as fiesty as they come. Weighing in at a solid 2.5g, she packs a mean punch. When she isn't roaming her quarters attempting to break the glass, she is hungrily munching down some fine shrimp chow. 

Lab Mascots
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