Postdoctoral, Yale University, 1983; PhD, Duke University, 1979; MS, Duke University, 1969; SciB, Dickinson College, 1967
We study the visual physiology of invertebrates, especially of marine and estuarine crustaceans. Most of my recent work has been with the mantis shrimps, or stomatopods, a unique group of tropical crustaceans that have extremely complicated behavior and perhaps the most unusual eyes ever evolved. I am working with their color vision systems (they have up to 16 spectral channels), their photic environments, their systems of color communication, the dynamics of their photoreceptor cells, and their ocular movements and control systems. In recent years, we have initiated a study of the molecular genetics of their opsins, the proteins that underlie the detection of light. We want to learn how the photoreceptors evolved and how their visual proteins are specialized for color vision and for seeing the polarized-light signals that many species of mantis shrimps produce.
The mantis shrimp, Odontodactylus latirostris
Reconstruction of head movements of a walking whooping crane
Members of my research group are also concerned with how animals have the animals with which we share the world have evolved visual systems specialized for their environmental and ecological requirements. Our lab motto is "If it has eyes, we can study it!" In the last 10 years, we have published papers on vision in squids, butterflies, fiddler crabs, cuttlefish, primates, dolphins, orioles, reef fishes, sponges, poison-dart frogs, fireflies, octopus, deep-sea crabs, whooping cranes, and (of course) mantis shrimp, and the list goes on . . .
See the wonderful blog on arthropods maintained by my graduate student, Mike Bok (http://arthropoda.southernfriedscience.com/).