OSyM Participants

    • Type of Researcher
    Jessica Hite
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    NIH Postdoctoral Fellow
    University of Nebraska-Lincoln and The National Institutes of Health
    Cressler Lab
    Research Summary

    A central focus of my research is to connect individual-level processes to population-level outcomes. These cross-scale interactions are key to understanding things like eco-evolutionary dynamics, shifts in demography, population stability, and disease outbreaks. Moreover, connecting multiple scales of biological organization is proving increasingly crucial for addressing public health challenges such as the development of “evolution-proof” strategies to slow the evolution of virulence and antibiotic resistance.

    My research program emphasizes the use of multi-disciplinary and quantitative approaches to science. My research lies at the interface of three traditionally separate bodies of research: consumer-resource ecology, physiology, and evolutionary epidemiology. I work within several focal systems and have developed collaborations with mathematicians, physiologists, ecologists, and conservation managers. Working across disciplines helps me think ‘outside the box’ and develop a unique skillset in meditating across multi-disciplinary teams.

    My aim is that by bringing a theory-guided approach and an ecological lens to these important questions, the Hite lab will become a leader in translational research. To test (and advance) theory, my research program uses a variety of lab-based and natural systems as case-studies including freshwater zooplankton and fruit flies and both bacterial and fungal pathogens.

    Biographical Info

    I am a quantitative eco-evolutionary biologist. My research lies at the interface of physiology, ecology, and evolutionary epidemiology. Broadly, I study how ecological variation shapes the interaction between individual life histories and the dynamics of populations and communities.

    My approach integrates empirical and observational data with innovative statistical approaches (e.g., machine learning) and mathematical modeling. I use theory from population ecology and evolutionary epidemiology as a guide to develop and test general, yet mechanistic models that advance multiple fields.

    Jason Hodin
    Organismal Biologist
    Senior Research Scientist
    University of Washington
    Friday Harbor Labs
    my professional website
    Research Summary

    For the past 10 years, my main focus has been on metamorphosis in the ocean, a process that has evolved numerous times in animals and non-animals. Across kingdoms, planktonic propagules face similar challenges: surviving (and in some cases growing) util they reach a "competent" stage to transform into juveniles, identification of suitable juvenile habitat when they arrive there, deciding whether to settle therein or wait for a potentially higher quality settlement habitat, and accomplishing the transformation itself. I use the word "challenges" here purposefully, as these early life stages need to function effectively as larvae and then make instantaneous decisions to abandon that life stage, undergoing what can be profound physiological and morphological changes into a benthic juvenile stage. A detailed understanding of this common yet diverse life cycle transformation that occurs at metamorphosis in marine organisms is not merely an intriguing cross-disciplinary problem, it represents a major knowledge gap that limits our understanding of and ability to predict trends in marine populations. In the face of profound anthropogenic ocean change, increasing our knowledge of these issues will be a key piece in our efforts to protect threatened marine ecosystems.

    Biographical Info

    I am broadly interested in the nexus of ecology, development and evolution. Specifically. I am fascinated by how organisms assess their internal and external environments to make informed, consequential life history decisions. To me, the ultimate example of this phenomenon is metamorphosis, a process that has evolved numerous times in both animals and non-animals. I have studied the internal mechanics of metamorphosis –where developmental changes underlie both subtle and profound evolutionary change– and how marine larvae evaluate their external environment in order to increase their very long odds of recruitment into adult populations. I am committed to addressing climate change, which I have done largely through educational outreach.

    John Hutchinson
    Biomechanic, Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    Royal Veterinary College
    Structure & Motion Lab, Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences
    RVC homepage
    Research Summary

    Professor Hutchinson has worked on extant and extinct animals ranging from birds and crocodiles to elephants and many other mammals as well as extinct dinosaurs and early tetrapods. John uses a combination of theoretical and experimental techniques, from motion analysis or XROMM and force platforms to simple 2D static mechanics or complex 3D fully dynamic computer simulations.

    Biographical Info

    John Hutchinson is a Professor of Evolutionary Biomechanics. John's research straddles the fields of evolutionary biology and biomechanics, with an emphasis on how very large animals stand and move and how locomotion evolved in different groups of land vertebrates. He is an American biologist who found a new home in the UK as a dual citizen. He gained a BS degree in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin in 1993, then received a PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of California with Kevin Padian in 2001, and rounded out his training with a two-year National Science Foundation bioinformatics Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Biomechanical Engineering Division of Stanford University with Scott Delp. John started at the Royal Veterinary College as a Lecturer in Evolutionary Biomechanics in 2003 in the Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences (now Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences), in 2008 became a Reader, and in 2011 became a full Professor.

    Angela Jones
    Ecomechanic, Organismal Biologist
    Graduate Student
    Northeastern University
    Research Summary

    I am a doctoral student in the Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. My interests are in functional micromorphology and of invertebrates in the rocky intertidal and shallow subtidal, specifically Asteroids and subsequent trophic cascades across species environmental gradients. My previous work focused on intertidal ecosystems in Northern California. In my undergraduate, I worked on biodiversity of invertebrates and algae in the rocky intertidal spanning fifteen sites. During this time, I also monitored Sea Star Wasting Disease in the sea star Leptasterias spp in the laboratory and in all local species in the field.
    My master’s work, was focused on aboral spine variation in the keystone predator Pisaster ochraceus, the ochre sea star, across environmental gradients with locations from Washington to Northern California. That project molded a lot of my current interests of blending natural history and modern technology including field assays, histology, scanning electron microscopy, micro CT scanning, and more.
    Overall, my interests and experiences vary across intertidal and subtidal habitats to understand ecological relevance of organismal variation. In the Helmuth lab, I hope to continue rigorous science, but also connect with the community and synthesize the information for public consumption. Ideally, this is done with the hopes of making science more accessible, entertaining, and approachable for all.

    Biographical Info

    I received my Bachelors in Zoology and Masters of Biology from California Polytechnic Humboldt. I am currently obtaining my doctorate in Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

    Sandy Kawano
    Biomechanic, Organismal Biologist
    Assistant Professor
    George Washington University
    Research Summary

    My research addresses questions regarding the evolution and ecology of phenotypic and functional diversity through the lens of comparative biomechanics and functional morphology. Fundamentally, I seek to explain how evolutionary changes in the musculoskeletal system facilitate or constrain the diversification of animals in different environments. Common research themes include: 1) the locomotor biomechanics across the fin-limb transition in vertebrate evolution, 2) morphological diversity driven by phenotypic selection, and 3) the eco-mechanics of locomotion across different environments. My interdisciplinary research integrates empirical and theoretical approaches, including inverse dynamics, high-speed videography, materials science and engineering, statistics, mathematics, and computer modeling.

    Biographical Info

    Sandy Kawano is an Assistant Professor at George Washington University, USA, where she integrates biology, materials science, and engineering to study the comparative biomechanics and functional morphology of animal locomotion. She received her undergraduate degree in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity from the University of California, Davis, USA, in 2008 before completing her PhD with Richard Blob at Clemson University, USA, in 2014. After completing postdoctoral fellowships at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, USA and the Royal Veterinary College, UK, she was appointed Assistant Professor at California State University, Long Beach, USA from 2017 to 2019.

    Joel Kingsolver
    Modeler, Organismal Biologist
    University of North Carolina
    Kingsolver Lab
    Research Summary

    How do organisms respond and adapt to complex, variable natural environments? Our research integrates environmental physiology, ecology and evolution to address this question, using a combination of laboratory, field and modeling approaches. Much of our work is with temperate insects and their interactions with plants, but together with recent graduate students and colleagues we have also studied bacteriophage, echinoderm larvae, and tropical butterflies. One major theme in recent years is plastic and evolutionary responses to human-induced environmental changes—climate change, invasive species, agroecosystems—and their ecological consequences.

    Biographical Info

    Joel was educated at St. Camillus Elementary, Thomas Johnson High, Duke, Wisconsin, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley, and held faculty positions at Brown University and University of Washington before moving to UNC in 2001. Over the years his research has involved biomechanics, environmental biophysics, physiology, ecology and evolution, but current foci are evolutionary and physiological ecology and population biology, mostly with insects and insect-plant interactions. He has a long-standing interest in educational software, and more recently in communicating science to non-science audiences. In his spare time Joel likes to hike and play guitar, and sometimes writes songs about biology.

    Sarah Kingston
    Organismal Biologist
    Visiting Assistant Professor
    University of Maine
    Bowdoin College
    Kingston Lab site
    Research Summary

    I leverage genomic data sets to illuminate fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes in wild populations. My research foci fall into three major lines of inquiry: hybrid zones, adaptive responses to climate change, and fisheries and aquaculture in a changing environment.

    Biographical Info

    University of Maryland BEES* PhD
    The College of Charleston – the Graduate School Marine Biology MSc
    The College of William and Mary History BA
    *Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics

    Mimi Koehl
    Biomechanic, Ecomechanic, Organismal Biologist
    University of California at Berkeley
    Department of Integrative Biology
    Research Summary

    Mimi Koehl studies the physics of how organisms interact with each other and their environments. Her goal is to elucidate basic physical rules that can be applied to different kinds of organisms about how body structure affects mechanical function in nature. I combine techniques from fluid and solid mechanics with those from biology and ecology to do experiments in the field as well as in the laboratory. She have been using this approach to address a variety of questions, including how microscopic creatures swim and capture food in turbulent water flow; how marine larvae recruit into benthic habitats; how being multi-cellular affects swimming, feeding, and predator avoidance in protozoan ancestors of animals; how morphology affects aerodynamic performance of extinct ancestors of flying insects and birds; how wave-battered marine organisms avoid being washed away; how hydrostatic organisms change shape and move through their habitats; and how suspension-feeding aquatic animals capture particles and how olfactory antennae catch odors from water moving around them.

    Biographical Info

    Mimi Koehl, a Professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, earned her PhD in Zoology at Duke University and did postdoctoral research at the University of Washington and at the University of York, UK. She studies the physics of how organisms interact with their environments. Professor Koehl is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has been the Executive Director of the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at UC Berkeley, and Chair of the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute. Her awards include a MacArthur “genius grant,” a Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Martin Award (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, for “for research that created a paradigm shift in an area of aquatic sciences”), the Borelli Award (American Society of Biomechanics, for “outstanding career accomplishment”), the Rachel Carson Award (American Geophysical Union, for "cutting-edge ocean science"), and the Muybridge Award (International Society of Biomechanics “highest honor”).

    Keywords: biomechanics, ecomechanics of invertebrates