Biology Graduate Program Eligible to Supervise
ContactOffice Location Farquharson Building, ROOM 355
Phone Number (416)736-2100 x 33821
Determining how organisms adapt to their environments is a fundamental goal of evolutionary biology. Sensory systems, such as vision, are an ideal model to study this topic as they provide a direct interface between an organism and its environment. The research in my lab is focused on understanding the mechanisms and drivers that have led to the vast diversity of vertebrate visual systems. We use an innovative approach to investigate how and why vertebrate visual diversity has evolved across multiple organizational scales using a combination of comparative genomics and transcriptomics, molecular evolutionary analyses, and targeted experiments.
Vision plays a key role in shaping complex behaviors including resource acquisition, predator avoidance, and mate choice, but different species need to contend with drastically different visual environments. Understanding how visual systems evolve and adapt to these different environmental conditions can provide deep insight into the diverse ecological transitions that have occurred throughout the tree of life and into mechanisms of adaptation, the evolution of complexity, and the repeatability of evolution in response to parallel selective pressures.
Research in the lab in currently focused on three main areas: 1) identification of major patterns in visual evolution and development in vertebrates; 2) determining convergent and novel mechanisms of visual evolution during fossorial (subterranean) adaptation, and 3) investigation of the evolution and development of new photoreceptor cell types. We are studying these topics in several vertebrate groups including amphibians (frogs, salamanders, and caecilians), squamates (lizards and snakes), and turtles.
molecular evolution, vision biology, computational biology, comparative genomics, molecular and cellular development