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Microscale Viscosity Gradients in the Sea

This project uses laboratory and field experiments, computer modeling, engineering, and underwater imaging to assess how fine-scale viscosity affects the ability of marine microbes to find and acquire food.

Collaborators: Jules Jaffe and Peter Franks at the Scripps Instituion of Oceanography
To be brutally honest, few people care that bacteria have different shapes. Which is a shame, because the bacteria seem to care very much
Young (2006)
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Microbial Form and Function

This project looks at the influence of cell shape on ecology by integrating two key areas into our understanding of microbial form and function: evolutionary patterns and biophysical constraints.

Despite their importance to our livelihoods we still have no real idea of why microorganisms look the way they do.
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Biology of suspension feeders

Suspension feeders - animals that capture food particles from the water - exert a major influence on the aquatic environment, and most groups of animals, from vertebrates to protozoa, have some members for whom suspension feeding is their major means of obtaining nutrients.

Research projects in this area include:
Flow-mediated responses to environmental change
Viscosity effects on ciliary feeding

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Extinct Ecologies

Comparative biomechanics of extinct and living organisms can be used to learn about the ecology and biology of animals and plant that we know only from fossils. Organisms may have changed over time, but physics has not.

Research projects in this area include:
Assessing the viability of skimming as a feeding method for pterosaurs
Assessing the potential for sexual selection in pterosaurs
Vision in ichthyosaurs