The investigation of animal vision provides a unique opportunity to attack a scientific problem with a tremendous variety of techniques from diverse disciplines. In order to truly understand the evolution and function of an eye one must draw upon optics, physiology, neurobiology, ecology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and behavioral approaches. The marine photic environment especially provides a great number of challenges to the function of an animal’s visual systems. I have always been enamored with the sea, so the study of vision in bizarre marine invertebrates has come as an exciting and fulfilling pursuit.
My previous research with Thomas Cronin in Baltimore concerned the physiological, ecological, and evolutionary basis of ultraviolet vision in mantis shrimp. These pugnacious crustaceans are famous for their violent attack strike and surprisingly complex visual systems. To a vision researcher, the mantis shrimps’ seemingly ridiculous levels of optical and retinal specialization are an endless font of novel discoveries.
My current research in Lund with Dan-Eric Nilsson deals with the opposite side of the evolutionary coin regarding eye design. Instead of looking at the most complex and sophisticated eyes nature has produced, I have shifted my attention to some of life’s poorest preforming eyes found in annelid worms and other aquatic invertebrates. I am interested in unraveling the functions and behaviors that drove the evolution of these simple eyes and perhaps also influenced the origins of the very first visual systems.
(fetched from Lund University's publications database)