Evolution Project

The Evolution Project currently has 6 science teams you can join.

Scientists: Marymegan Daly, Abigail Reft, Maureen O'Leary, Michael Lam, Jed Irvine
Jellyfish, corals, sea anemones, and their kin capture food and defend themselves against predators using tiny but highly complex stinging capsules called nematocysts. We are exploring the diversity of these microscopic structures using scanning electron microscopy, which reveals that nematocysts vary widely in the shape and arrangement of spines, tubule, and capsule.
1 interns
115 research assistants
0 lab assistants
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Scientists: Ramona Walls, Selena Smith, Maureen O'Leary, Dennis Stevenson, Dario Cavaliere
We are collecting data on leaf and flower characteristics of the order Liliales and close relatives. The leaves have been stripped of their color (cleared) and then stained so that the veins are more visible, plus there are a few fossils.Different kinds of flowers differ in the orientation and relative size of their parts, compared to the example illustrations of the characters. The data gathered for this project will be used to help understand the evolutionary relationships among different plant species.
5 interns
213 research assistants
0 lab assistants
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Scientists: Edward Theriot, Anna Mengjie Yu, Maureen O'Leary, Matthew Julius
Diatoms are single-celled algae that are the basis of the food chain in lakes, streams and oceans, and also make much of the oxygen we breathe. They have a unique, highly ornamented cell wall made literally of glass. Cyclotella is an unusual diatom because it repeatedly crossed the marine-freshwater boundary in both directions over evolutionary time. The first diatom to have its genome sequenced was Cyclotella nana. This project will help scientists understand how this genus arose and how its unique ecology came to be.
3 interns
168 research assistants
0 lab assistants
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Scientists: Mariangeles Arce H., Maureen O'Leary
Most people can recognize catfishes because they have whiskers but not a lot of people know that there are almost 4000 different types and that they are distributed all over the world. We believe that North American catfishes are related to catfishes from Asia and we are looking for evidence. The evidence we are looking for should reside in the fish anatomy. The different structures in the catfish body will provide useful information to understand their evolution. Help us find the evidence that will prove if those types of catfishes are closely related or not.
2 interns
271 research assistants
0 lab assistants
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Scientists: Javier Robalino, Maureen O'Leary
The group Penaeoidea includes most species of shrimp consumed by humans. These animals are also critically important for the health of estuaries and oceans. Unfortunately, we understand very little about morphological adaptation in these animals, particularly in an evolutionary time frame. This project intends to fill some of these gaps by analyzing the phylogenetic structure of this group using morphological features, and by establishing evolutionary relationships between living and extinct species.
0 interns
178 research assistants
0 lab assistants
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Scientists: Maureen O'Leary, Andrea Cirranello, Paul Velazco, Nancy Simmons
This project aims to understand the diversity of form in the skulls and teeth of bats -- the only mammals that fly. Different bat species have very different diets. Most feed on insects, but other species eat animals, fish, fruit, nectar, pollen, or even blood (vampires). The shapes of bat skulls and teeth reflect these dietary habits, but also contain information useful for understanding bat evolution. We aim to use details of skull form to build a family tree of bats that can be used to better understand the evolution and diversity of these amazing animals.
7 interns
184 research assistants
0 lab assistants
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