Current Research

In my lab we use crayfish to understand how social environment and social experience mediate social status establishment. We are particularly interested in understanding the endocrine mechanisms that translate change in social experience into future behavior and status.

.crayfish whisperers logo_cropped

Hormones allow animals to respond to changes in their physical and social environment. Change in social environment typically induces an endocrine response allowing the individual to produce a context-appropriate behavior. Through varying degrees of integration between the hormonal signal and the behavior-generating structures, plastic, context-appropriate behaviors can be generated.


However, our understanding of how external information is integrated at multiple levels (genetic, hormonal, nervous) to produce an adaptive behavioral response is limited. Furthermore, we do not understand how social environment and species-specific sociality shape behavior.


To fully understand how sociality shapes genetic, hormonal,  and neural responses to generate behavior, it is important to consider behavior in the social context that it occurs in nature, within a communication network. In this network, individuals are affected by multiple stimuli, through active direct interaction with conspecifics, and passively, by extracting information through eavesdropping. The brain behavior network of a given species should then reflect the social experience and selection pressures that the individual encounters during its lifetime.



Orconectes rusticus


Current projects:

1. Role of nutrition on social memory and recognition

2. Relationship between molting and social structure

3. The effect of social status on serotonin sensitivity

4. Role of social experience in chemical signaling


Current students:

  • Kristopher Davis ‘2015
  • Marisa Del Gaudio ‘2015
  • Kevin Dise ‘2015
  • Casey Meier ‘2015
  • Marissa Sneeringer ‘2015
  • Samuel Thalathoti ‘2015
  • Ellen Powers ‘2016
  • Miriam Balasundram ‘2016
Samuel Thalathoti, Kevin Dise, and Casey Meier

Sam Thalathoti, Kevin Dise, Casey Meier 

If you are interested in joining the lab, e-mail me or stop by my office.