-Mentoring, Public Outreach, & Service-

In addition to conducting research and teaching in the classroom, maintaining an active outreach program is an important career goal of mine. My outreach efforts include mentoring young scientists, sharing my research with nonscientists, and serving my field by building collaborative networks among scientists who would like to do the same.

Research experience for undergraduates is extremely important in the preparing students for positions in science. Each year I take on one or two undergraduates to work with me on projects that focus on taxonomy, systematics, and anatomy of fishes. Together, we find modest funding opportunities and develop hypotheses and answer them using data collected by hands-on investigations taken on by the student. If you are a student at Harvard or another Boston-area university and are interested in pursuing a research project, please send me an email.

Current Undergraduate Collaborators


Alex Stote
Harvard University, 2014
Senior thesis project: Morphological basis of host preference and adhesion performance in the remoras (family Echeneidae)

Former Undergraduate Collaborators


Zach Baldwin
Ph.D. Student
American Museum of Natural History
Undergrad roject: Diel vertical migration in stomiiform fishes

Ben Burnett
University of Washington, 2012
Undergrad project: Neuroanatomy and relationships of basal euteleosts

Thaddeus Buser
Masters Student
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Undergrad project: Molecular systematics of catsharks

Taylor Fjeran
Masters Student
Oregon State University
Undergrad project: Molecular phylogenetics of percomorphs

Ben Frable
Masters Student
Oregon State University
Undergrad project: Neuroanatomy and relationships of stomiiform fishes

Josh Kim
PhD student
Undergrad project: Rhodopsin evolution in deep-sea fishes

Public Outreach
Another professional goal of mine is to broaden the impacts of my research through engagements with nonscientists. Over the course of my career, I've sought opportunities to talk with folks about the critters that inhabit the deep sea. Audiences have ranged from K-12 classes to senior groups. If you and your group are interested in learning more about oceanic fishes, please contact me via email email.

In July 2010, I spoke to an audience at Seattle Public Library about what inspiration James Cameron might have drawn from deep-sea fishes and other luminescent organisms for his film "Avatar." Speaking with me were neurobiologist Hilary Kemp of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and evolutionary biologist Peter Wimberger of the University of Puget Sound. Bonnie Dunbar, former astronaut and CEO of the Museum of Flight, was the moderator. The player below provides audio of the event.

loosejaw condition

[the bioluminescence portion is at 8:00 to 28:00, but I wouldn't miss the rest!]

Collaboration and discussion with a community of scientists is essential to my research. To foster a community of collaborators I remain an active member of professional societies by attending society meetings and governing sessions, and serving on society committees. I feel it's also important to foster collaboration outside professional societies and focus collaborative efforts on particular research topics and advancement of my field of science.
One area of active engagement with colleagues is in the advancement of deep-sea biology and our understanding of biodiversity. Two recent efforts, one led by me and the other by colleagues in Japan, have specific aims to engage more scientists of every rank in explorations of deep-sea biodiversity.

The number of vertebrate species living below 200 m in marine waters is still an open question. In May 2010, my former Ph.D. advisor, Ted Pietsch, and I assembled a team of scientists to address this question. The team was composed of professors, government and museum scientist, postdocs, and graduate and undergraduate students from seven different countries. With funding from the Encyclopedia of Life's Biodiversity Synthesis Center, we met at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology to review and scrutinize data from several existing databases. Born out of this meeting, we now maintain an online database Deep-sea Fishes of the World through the LifeDesk platform. Based on this database, our team is synthesizing an annotated tally of all species living in the deep-sea.

BioSync Attendees
Attendees of the Deep-Sea Fishes EOL BioSynC Meeting

In the fall of 2010 and 2011, I travelled to Japan to work with other ichthyologists to sort mid-water collections housed at the National Museum of Nature and Science. In addition to describing the diversity of deep-water fishes in the western North Pacific, our international team of scientists sought to train early-stage graduate and senior undergraduate students in the taxonomy and systematics of meso- and bathypelagic fishes. These workshops were a resounding success—several species new to science were discovered, but most importantly, some three dozen students were provided hands-on, experiential learning in deep-sea biodiversity.

Deep-sea workshop attendees
Attendees of the Deep-Sea Workshop in Tsukuba, Japan, Fall 2011