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Ph.D. University of North Carolina
Invertebrate biology is the broad area of my research interests, and I concentrate on invertebrates of the meiofauna---that is, small animals living in the interstices of marine sediments, especially the more primitive worms such as turbellarians and gnathostomulids. I apply electron microscopy and
fluorescence microscopy to these animals, comparing their anatomies in search of clues to phylogenetic relationships among major taxa and clues to the functional morphology of microorgans. A major project now underway centers on phylogenetic relationships of three groups of lower worms: the Acoela, Catenulida, and Gnathostomulida. The acoels and gnathostomulids have both served in some theories of animal evolution as the most primitive of the bilaterally symmetrical metazoans. Microscopy as well as
bioinformatics and molecular sequencing are the tools of this project, and they are used to determine how these animals are related to each other and to other major groups of invertebrates. Together with Dr. Wolfgang Sterrer of the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, with whom we are collaborating on this project, we are sampling these taxa worldwide and correlating hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships with geographic distribution.
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