My primary research interests continue to focus on developmental morphology in Vertebrates, with specific emphasis on embryological development of the skull from early organogenesis through parturition. I would like to continue investigating the role of neural crest cells in these more “primitive” vertebrates, utilizing histology (light and electron microscopy) and expand this into the use of novel molecular tracers in contrast microscopy and MRI as tools to further elucidate the physical and biochemical mechanisms that have discrete causative roles within the embryological process.
My recent investment in applying my marine and freshwater coastal ecosystem background in the private sector has stirred an interest in estuarine research, as it relates to nursery areas for sharks and other elasmobranchs. A new benthic monitoring tool being deployed by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in the Indian River Lagoon, shows great promise for accurate, long term remote sensing capabilities in both coastal and interior lake settings. This simple tool, cleverly called K.I.L.R.O.Y, has the ability to provide up to the minute changes in several biological indicators for both satellite and remote sensing acquisition equipment. While my interest stems from my long term focus on chondrichthyan fishes, my upbringing in the Midwest has also instilled an interest and love of the lakes and rivers that wind through our communities. By focusing on the long term acquisition of steady streams of data, I believe that we can develop stronger hypothetical frameworks to explore and explain the decline, or improvement, in the health of our water bodies and the intimately dependent inhabitants that are directly affected by the subtle changes in these variables. By acquiring this information and examining the developmental or anatomical embryological changes that accompany these changes in the vertebrate inhabitants of these systems, we may be able to develop theoretical connections that will drive further research and support grant applications for additional funds to expand initial surveys.
My research goals are not mutually exclusive of my role as a mentor to the undergraduates and graduate students that share a common interest or are open to acquiring the skills and potential academic credentials that will strengthen their ability to compete for top level assistantships and professional schools. In fact, any research program that I am involved with must have an undergraduate component in order to acquire sufficient funding and further enhance the offerings of the department. By focusing on the students within our program we are cultivating relationships that will lead to professional collaborations in the future. Furthermore, by keeping current with the literature and adding to the body of knowledge, I am able to directly impact the courses that I am teaching with the latest information. By doing so, I am able to add a relevancy to both lecture and laboratory that will further enhance the student’s ability to understand the material.
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