PhD position in evolutionary development of gastropod shells

A graduate student position is available for study of the mechanisms of
mollusc shell development. Molluscs are one of the most diverse and
successful animal groups, in terms of body plans, species, and their
ubiquity across ecosystems and niches. Their success is likely due in
part to a key molluscan character– the shell, a strong and durable
exoskeleton of calcium crystals.

Mollusc shells are a very powerful model system for morphological
evolution. They are extremely diverse and disparate, and different
morphologies can often be directly related to functional differences.
They have an exquisitely detailed fossil record, which allows
morphological change to be tracked through evolutionary time. Shells
grow progressively, at the outer edge, so they record ontogenetic
change like no other animal structure. Despite the diversity of mollusc
shell morphology, the geometry of shell growth is relatively simple–
even dramatic differences in shell form can be explained by differences
in basic parameters of shell growth. This has made them a prominent
system for modeling morphological change. Indeed, work on mollusc
shells inspired the concept of morphospace– the theoretical
representation of all the possible forms or structures of an organism.
In addition, shell biomineralization has been extensively studied and
is a model for materials science (Marin et al., 2012). Despite the many
strengths of mollusc shells for studies of morphological evolution,
they have not been tractable for mechanistic studies of the evolution
of development, because the developmental mechanisms that control shell
growth are not known.

The successful candidate will extend recent discoveries in the Lambert
lab at the University of Rochester. Studies will focus on the cellular
behaviors in the mantle epithelium that control shell shape, and on the
genes that regulate these processes. Methods will include cell
proliferation assays, RNA-seq, in situ hybridization and gene knockdown
studies. Further comparative and modeling projects are also

To apply, please send a CV and a short statement describing your
background and interests, to David Lambert at email address

David Lambert
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
University of Rochester…/…/labs/LambertLab/index.html
Office: 344 Hutchison Hall
Lab: 338 Hutchison Hall
585 273-2482 (office)
585 275-7521 (lab)
585 275-2070 (fax)
Shipping address:
University of Rochester
Department of Biology
213 Hutchison Hall
River Campus
Rochester, NY 14627-0211
Mailing address:
University of Rochester
Hutchison Hall
RC Box # 270211
Rochester NY 14627-0211

“Lambert, David” <>

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