September 23, 2013

Leo Smith and Matt Davis join Ichthyology

Leo Smith has joined KU as an assistant curator of ichthyology at the Biodiversity Institute and as assistant professor of systematics and evolution at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He comes to KU from the Field Museum in Chicago. Smith's research focuses on the evolutionary biology of fishes. He is interested in the large-scale phenomena that have shaped the history and diversification of fishes in both geographic space and geologic time. He uses a combination of phylogenetic or "family" trees and detailed anatomical and genomic analyses to understand the evolution and diversification of fishes.

Research associate Matt Davis has also joined the ichthyology division. Matt's research program focuses on the evolution of fishes that inhabit the deep sea, as the extreme habitats of this environment have produced fascinating evolutionary events among the 4000-6000 species of marine fishes that have invaded this realm (e.g., telescopic eyes, bioluminescence, hermaphroditism). He uses phylogenetic hypotheses as frameworks to investigate a breadth of evolutionary questions related to organismal diversity and diversification. His work focuses on exploring a number of evolutionary topics related to fishes that inhabit the deep sea, including; estimating divergence times, temporal changes in diversification rates, character evolution, correlations between speciation rates and evolutionary adaptations, ecological habitat shifts, and biogeography.