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My Focus

I am a PhD candidate in the Porter lab at the University of Hawai'i, on the unceded land of Kō Hawaiʻi Paeʻāina (the Hawaiian Kingdom). Light encodes a wealth of information for animals equipped to detect it. I am broadly interested in how animals produce light and also how they detect it.


Bioluminescence has evolved more than 90 times across animal taxa. It is used for offence, defence, and communication. Generally speaking, the bioluminescent reaction involves the oxidation of a luciferin molecule catalyzed by a luciferase protein. My focal species are oplophorid shrimp and Pleuromamma copepods.


The fundamental molecular unit of vision is the opsin, a gene that encodes a light-sensitive protein found in the retina. Humans perceive light through four visual opsins; one rod opsin and three cone opsins. Human colour vision is facilitated by the interaction between those three spectrally distinct cone opsins. In contrast, many non-human animals may have 1 to 10 or more visual opsins.


My research aims to discover the broader function and evolution of opsin and luciferase genes by connecting molecular biology and animal behaviour. 

I am a cisgender, heterosexual, white man who has benefited tremendously from the privilege my identity has afforded. Unlike many of my colleagues, I have not faced barriers relating to my race, gender, sexual orientation, or had to overcome centuries of colonialism and white supremacy. I have witnessed how socioeconomics impede access to higher education, or other opportunities while perpetuating and compounding these barriers. I recognize these barriers and always endeavor to use my privilege for the benefit of others.


If you have any questions regarding my research, or are interested in collaborations, please do not hesitate to contact me!

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