OSyM Participants

    • Type of Researcher
    Members
    Sarah Cohen
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    San Francisco State University
    Estuary and Ocean Science Center
    sarahcoh@sfsu.edu
    Twitter
    Keywords: conservation genetics, inverebrate biology, immunogenetics, phylogeography, candidate loci, marine invasions
    Caitlyn Collins
    Organismal Biologist
    Master of Science Candidate
    Bloomsburg University
    cc51930@huskies.bloomu.edu
    Research Summary

    Her research is focused in physiological ecology. Her masters thesis was on sea urchins and their physiological impacts due to near future sea surface temperatures. She did a laboratory study that focused on the behavioral and feeding changes that occurred when sea urchins were exposed to increase water temperatures. She also did a field study that described distribution of those sea urchins in their natural habitat and related it back to her laboratory study.


    Biographical Info

    Caitlyn Collins is from Philadelphia, PA. She received her Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and General Biology from East Stroudsburg University. Her undergraduate research explored meiofauna populations and how climate could impact their communities. She attends Bloomsburg University, pursuing a Master of Science. Her thesis research examines the thermal tolerance of the sea urchins Echinometra lucunter and Eucidaris tribuloides and how it affects their feeding rates. This is being done in the laboratory at Bloomsburg University, as well as in the field in Roatan, Honduras and the Florida Keys. This will help predict how the sea urchins physiology could change with ocean warming and the impact that will have on their respective environments.


    Noah Cowan
    Engineer, Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    Johns Hopkins University
    Department of Mechanical Engineering
    ncowan@jhu.edu
    Twitter
    Research Summary

    We study sensorimotor control of animal movement, using a “control theoretic” perspective; specifically, we use mathematical models of biomechanics, together with principles of control theory, to design perturbations. The responses to these perturbations can be used to furnish a quantitative description of the way the nervous system processes sensory information for control.


    Biographical Info

    Noah J. Cowan received a BS degree from the Ohio State University, Columbus, in 1995, and MS and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1997 and 2001 – all in electrical engineering. Following his PhD, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley for two years. In 2003, he joined the mechanical engineering department at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, where he is now a professor. Prof. Cowan’s research interests include mechanics and multisensory control in animals and machines. Prof. Cowan received the NSF PECASE award in 2010, the James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award in Complex Systems in 2012, and the William H. Huggins Award for excellence in teaching in 2004.


    Keywords: control theory, sensiromotor control, neuromechanics, hippocampus
    Mark Denny
    Biomechanic, Ecomechanic, Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    Stanford University
    Hopkins Marine Station
    mwdenny@stanford.edu
    Research Summary

    At the heart of all of our studies are the interactions between individual organisms and between organisms and their physical environment. These are the concerns of an emerging field know as ecological mechanics. By exploring the mechanical and physiological design of nearshore organisms, we hope to reveal how they evolved to thrive and compete amidst the severe stresses of the wave-swept shore. The principles that have guided evolution and ecology in this exceptionally harsh environment can provide valuable insight into the design of all plants and animals, and will help us to understand how organisms will cope with our changing climate.


    Biographical Info

    I was introduced to biomechanics by Steve Wainwright and Steve Vogel while I was an undergraduate at Duke. I then had the privilege of working with John Gosline at UBC for my doctorate on the thrilling subject of slug slime. A postdoc with Bob Paine at U. Washington introduced me to the ecological side of biomechanics. After a short stint at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, I moved to Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, where I have been ever since.


    Keywords: ecological mechanics
    Patsy Dickinson
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    Bowdoin College
    Biology Department
    pdickins@bowdoin.edu
    Research Summary

    My research focuses on modulation of pattern generating networks in crustaceans, particularly the cardiac and stomatogastric ganglia of lobsters and stretch feedback in the lobster cardiac neuromuscular system.


    Keywords: neuroscience
    Peter Dunn
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    Dept. of Biological Sciences
    pdunn@uwm.edu
    PDunn UWM
    Research Summary

    I study the ecology and evolution of birds. One of my main interests, relative to OSyM, is the influence of climate change on the breeding ecology of birds. I recently co-edited the second edition of "Effects of Climate Change on Birds" (OUP). A major theme of the volume is that we know little about the mechanisms (physiological, behavioral and demographic) that will impact birds in the future as temperatures increase. I am particularly interested in how trophic interactions will affect birds, specifically how changes in insect abundance and phenology will affect the timing of breeding and reproductive success of birds. Predictive models are relatively uncommon in this area, but may be important for understanding responses to climate change.


    Biographical Info

    I grew up in Connecticut where I became interested in birds and nature at a young age. I gained BS and MS degrees in Wildlife Biology, before switching to Zoology for my PhD at the Univ. of Alberta (1989). I did post-doctoral work on birds at the Queen's Univ., Australian National Univ. and Louisiana State Univ before settling at the Univ. of Wisc. Milwaukee in 1996. I have been studying the ecology and evolution of birds, primarily warblers, swallows and grouse ever since.


    Cassandra Extavour
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    Harvard University
    Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
    extavour@oeb.harvard.edu
    Twitter
    Research Summary

    The Extavour Lab studies evolution and ecology of development: EvoEcoDevo. They primarly use insects, including Drosophia in their research.


    Biographical Info

    Cassandra Extavour is a native of Toronto, where she attended the University of Toronto Schools and went on to obtain an Honors BSc at the University of Toronto with a specialist in Molecular Genetics and Molecular Biology, a Major in Mathematics and a Minor in Spanish. She obtained her PhD with Antonio Garcia Bellido at the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biologyat the Autonomous University of Madrid. She performed postdoctoral work first with Michalis Averof at the Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Crete, Greece, and subsequently with Michael Akam at the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge she received a BBSRC Research Grant and became a Research Associate in the Department of Zoology. In 2007 she established her independent laboratory as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, where she was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and to full professor in 2014.


    Keywords: germ line, reproduction, ovary, Drosophila, arthropod, insect, genetics, evolution, development, evo-devo, evo-eco-devo, embryo, embryogenesis, oogenesis, ovariole, morphogenesis
    Robert Full
    Organismal Biologist
    Professor
    University of California at Berkeley
    Department of Integrative Biology
    rjfull@berkeley.edu
    Research Summary

    Robert Full’s primary interests reside in the area of comparative biomechanics and physiology. His research program quantifies whole animal performance in general and locomotion in particular as it relates to an animal's structure, physiology, and behavior. He uses biomechanical, computer simulation (dynamic musculo-skeletal modeling), physical modeling (robot and artificial muscle construction), isolated muscle, biochemical, whole-animal exercise physiology and field-tracking techniques to seek general design principles for species which have evolved different solutions to the problems of locomotion and activity in general. The study of arthropod, amphibian and reptilian locomotion continues to offer an excellent opportunity for comparison. Animals such as crabs, cockroaches, ants, beetles, scorpions, centipedes, lizards, geckos and salamanders show tremendous variation in body shape, gas transport system, leg number, musculoskeletal arrangement and mode of movement. He uses these "novel" biological designs as natural experiments to probe for basic themes concerning the relationship between morphology, body size, energetics, dynamics, control, stability, maneuverability, maximum speed and endurance. An understanding of the diverse biological solutions to the problems of locomotion contributes to the development of a general theory of energetics, neuro-mechanics and behavior. Full collaborates closely with engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists by providing biological principles to inspire the design of multi-legged robots, artificial limbs and muscles, novel control algorithms, and self-cleaning, dry adhesives.


    Biographical Info

    Robert Full received his doctoral degree from SUNY Buffalo, conducted a post doc at The University of Chicago and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor of Integrative Biology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Full is the Director of the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory and the Center for interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research (CiBER).


    Keywords: biomechanics, bioinspired design, robotics