Oarfish 2013
Oarfish 2013

Deep Sea fishes

I am interested in large scale evolutionary questions about why deep sea fishes have flaccid, unmineralized skeletons. My interests in biomaterials and functional morphology have led to a new investigation exploring the composition and material properties of bone and cartilage and their connective tissues in deep sea fishes. Fishes that live in deep water tend to be united by a flaccid bony or cartilaginous skeleton. The main function of a skeleton is to form a load bearing structure that moves the body via lever systems during skeletal muscle contractions. I will be testing the material properties of deep sea skeletons in a variety of fishes including the giant oarfish which has recently made headlines in the press. 

 

The oarfish (2013 female, 2015 female, and two 2015 male strandings) have been CT scanned and we are now reconstructing the skeleton into a file for 3D printing. This allows me to get a good understanding of the fish's anatomy prior to a full dissection. I will then use materials testing techniques and histology to explore why the oarfish and other deep sea fish have such highly unmineralized bony and cartilaginous skeletons. This project is a collaborative effort with Dr. Lara Ferry (ASU). 

 

We are also investigating oarfish reproduction in collaboration with Dr. Kristy Forsgren. 

Dissection of stranded six-gill shark. San Juan Island, WA.
Dissection of stranded six-gill shark. San Juan Island, WA.

Students interested in joining the FABB lab should contact Dr. Paig-Tran directly. Include a short statement of who you are and your research interests. It is helpful to include an updated C.V. 

*Remember, before contacting any professor about joining their lab, make sure that you do your homework. Know what their lab does.  Try to read one of their papers or at least an abstract from their papers. Have a possible research question ready to discuss. This impresses P.I.s and gives you the advantage over students who have not taken the time to look into what happens in that lab.