Todd Dawson Lab
Phone: (510) 642-1054
Web page: http://dawsonlab.synthasite.com/
Her research: "Mantis shrimp are fascinating creatures. Some species produce one of the fastest movements in the animal kingdom with their predatory arms (or appendages). The appendage produces high speeds, with high accelerations and forces, which the animal uses to crush hard-shelled prey, like snails and hermit crabs. Yet surprisingly, mantis shrimp seem to eat many different prey items, not just animals with hard shells. Thus, my dissertation seeks to answer the simple questions: what do mantis shrimp eat and how does what they eat relate to the form of their appendage?"
Why science?: "One of my favorite things about science is the process. The scientific process gives one the freedom to think critically and creatively about the world. As a biologist, I am always asking questions and seeking innovative ways to answer those questions. Of course, asking thoughtful questions about nature requires that I spend a lot of time in nature, which is definitely the best part of my work!"
Burning questions: "What are the functional trade-offs associated with prey-capture in mantis shrimp? What are the ecological and behavioral correlates associated with the evolution of the prey-capture appendage in mantis shrimp?"
On her day-to-day work: "I use high-speed videography, dissections, and behavioral and ecological field studies to learn about the kinematic, morphological, behavioral and ecological traits associated with appendage form and function. The behavioral ecology component of my work occurs in an exciting place known as Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia! I enjoy being in the field the most!"