My research is focussed on variation in the timing of embryonic developmental events within species. Evolution occurs through changes in the way organisms develop and therefore understanding how these changes occur is fundamental to understanding development, ecology and evolution. Changes in the timing of development between species (heterochrony) has been widely documented and has been proposed by some scientists as the main mechanism of evolution.
To facilitate this research we have designed and built unique automated bio-imaging systems. These systems allow us to perform high resolution (temporal and spatial) time-lapse bio-imaging throughout the development of large numbers of aquatic embryos. This capacity is unique and provides a powerful tool for studying how organisms during their early life stages are shaped, and respond to, changes in their environment. The technology has been applied to studying the responses of a wide range of aquatic species to different environments, and to how these responses change during embryonic development.
We have developed novel motion analysis software, adding automated analytical function to our bio-imaging hardware. Our goal is to develop fully automated high-dimensional-organismal-phenotyping capacity and we are focussing our efforts on achieving this via a range of analytical methods.
for videos of developing aquatic embryos produced in our lab. See also www.discoverosmosis.com, our proof of concept digital learning resource developed for Discovery Learning in secondary schools.