Bridging the Gap Between Developmental Genetics and Paleontology


MICHAEL A. BELL - Professor

Mike Bell grew up in Los Angeles, where he spent his spare time catching lizards and collecting fossil fish. The summer after his first year in college, he had a job in Nevada, and someone suggested that he collect fossil stickleback fish near Fernley. He has been interested in threespine stickleback ever since. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology in 1976 at UCLA and joined the faculty at Stony Brook University in 1978.

MATT TRAVIS - Ph.D. Candidate

Matt is interested in functional morphology and phenotypic plasticity. He studies the development of trophic morphology in threespine stickleback fish.


Windsor was born in Queens, NY, but has spent much of his life in Ecuador and the southern U.S. He obtained his Bachelor's in Biology from the University of Guayaquil (Ecuador) and his Master's in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi. Windsor is interested in understanding the factors that facilitate and constrain evolutionary diversification and is studying the evolutionary biology of extant Alaskan threespine stickleback for his dissertation. On the side, he works on the ecology and evolution of coastal fishes in Latin America, especially Ecuador.

PETER PARK - Ph.D. Student

Peter was born in Queens, NY and has never left the big city. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, he received a Bachelorís Degree in two majors, Biology and Psychology at Stony Brook University, where he is continuing his education as a PhD student. Peter is interested in understanding the evolution of spatial learning behavior and its underlying neuroanatomy in fish. He is also using the threespine stickleback as a model system to discover patterns of evolution in brain morphology and their relationships with ecological factors.

SUMMER OSTROWSKI- Master's Student

Summer received her Bachelor's from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in Geology, Zoology, and Biological Aspects of Conservation. She is currently a master's student interested in using fossil fishes to address biological questions. Her thesis work will examine the repeated evolution of reduced morphological characters of fossil sticklebacks from Nevada.

Melanie Bobb- Undergraduate Student

Melanie is the senior undergraduate student in the Bell Lab and has worked with us since the Summer of 2004. Her research has focused primarily on quantifying the divergence in size of armor structures between ancestral anadromous and derived lake stickleback and on the influence of allometry on the adaptive radiation of stickleback. She also spent six weeks in Alaska in the Summer of 2005 carrying out stickleback research.

Anup Gangavalli- Undergraduate Student

Anup Gangavalli is a senior Neuroscience undergraduate from San Diego, California. Involved with the Bell lab since the summer of 2005, Anup is evaluating the frequency low morph ectodysplasin (Eda) alleles in several oceanic populations in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The Eda gene regulates the expression of completely plated (typical of anadromous stickleback) or low plated (typical of resident freshwater stickleback) phenotypes. He also recently became intested in a peculiar miniature resident lake population that is monomorphic for the completely plated phenotype and is studying it's population genetics using microsatellite markers.

Jason Hall- Undergraduate Student

Coming Soon.

Jihye Kim- Undergraduate Student

Jihye is a senior undergraduate student. She has been working in the Bell lab since Summer of 2005. She is mainly involoved in Peter Park's research on behavior and neurobiology of stickleback fish. Her main interests are different learning strategies of stickleback and their brain structures.

Nagammai Siva Nagappan- Undergraduate Student

Siva Nagappan is an undergraduate who has worked in our lab since the Fall of 2005 on variation of dorsal spine and pterygiophore number among highly and weakly armored populations of threespine stickleback.

Joanne Soong- Undergraduate Student

Joanne is an undergraduate junior that has been working in the Bell Lab since Fall 2005. She is studying the population genetics of the Little Meadow Creek system in Alaska using microsatellite markers. The Little Meadow Creek system is ecologically diverse and includes shallow lakes with "benthic" stickleback, deep lakes with "limnetic" stickleback, isolated lakes with stickleback that have extreme pelvic reduction, and resident stream stickleback. The aim of this project is to decipher patterns of genetic relatedness, gene flow, and genetic diversity in this ecologically diverse system.

Saquib Siddiqi- Undergraduate Student

Saquib Siddiqi is a senior undergraduate student and has been working at the Bell lab since summer 2006. He is involved in a large study on the evolution of genetic covariances in stickleback fish. For this study, data on individuals from a large number of genetic crosses (>900) of ancestral anadromous and derived lake stickleback are being collected for body shape anaylsis (using geometric morphometric methods). The primary objective is to evaluate the influence of ancetral covariances on the evolutionary trajectory of young lake populations.

Sumera Akram- Undergraduate Student

Sumera is studying the osteological basis of body shape variation among ecologically divergent threespine stickleback populations. Anadromous populations of threespine stickleback have a consistent body shape, but freshwater stickleback populations vary greatly in shape based on their habitats. The goal of this project is to understand which elements of the internal skeleton (measured from x-rays) are evolving in response selection for different body shapes (measured with geometric morphometric methods) in freshwater environments.

Walter Piddoubny- Undergraduate Student

Coming Soon.


KAITLYN ELLIS- Undergraduate Student

Katie graduated in the Spring of 2006 and is currently at Tufts University in Boston where she is earning a combined masters in public health and an M.D. She began working with the Bell Lab in the Summer of 2003 and carried out stickleback research in Alaska in the Summer of 2004, 2005, and 2006. Her research projects included studying phenotypic variation in an anadromous threespine stickleback population sampled over multiple years, surveying phenotypic variability of Pungitius populations collected throughout Cook Inlet, Alaska, and studying expression patterns of Pitx 1 in pelvic-reduced stickleback populations.

ERIKA KALABAKAS- Undergraduate Student

Erika graduated in the Spring of 2006 and is currently attending medical school at NYCOM, the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. She began work in the Bell Lab in the Spring of 2004 and spent six weeks in Alaska in the Summer of 2005 carrying out stickleback research. Erika studied evolution of the Tommelson Lake stickleback population, which is polymorphic for lateral plate phenotypes. The goal of her research was to understand the origin and evolution of the polymorphism by studying temporal patterns of phenotypic variation using geometric morphometric methods and genetic divergence between morphs using microsatellite markers.