My lab is generally interested in evolutionary questions, and we tend to focus on the subcellular/molecular scale of biology. We are curious about how small mutations (which you can see in the DNA) can lead to really big changes in how an organism works. I did my MS and PhD degrees in Bruce Sidell's lab, where I developed a career-long interest in the molecular and evolutionary biology of fat. If you think of fat as energy to do stuff (move, reproduce, compete), then an organism's ability to acquire energy, store it, and access it can be a strong influence on its evolutionary success. For the past ~10 years we have been working on the hormone leptin. In mammals, leptin is made by fat tissue and secreted into the blood. It binds to a receptor in the brain and influences all sorts of physiological functions-some you would expect (appetite, the rate at which you use energy, body temperature) and some you would not (bone density, reproduction, immunity). We are trying to figure out how leptin evolved-what was its original function(s), and can that tell us about what it is doing in mammals? Most of the time we work on fish (like zebrafish and carp). We also have a project going on with Han Thewissen's and Joel Duff's labs on leptin function in bowhead whales (as much as 50% of their body weight is fat).
Questions? Please contact us. (By the way-the picture is of me driving a boat in Tahiti, which is just a shameless attempt to make me look cool.)