Elke Buschbeck is the lab’s PI. She is excited about the opportunity to expand our research into exciting new directions and to directly work with so many outstanding students. She has worked on many different eyes throughout her career. She obtained her PhD at the University of Arizona, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Cornell University.




Arun Muthsamy is a PhD student since 2016. He uses transcriptomics, in situ hybridization and RNAi technology to test to what extent developmental pathways known from Drosophila eye development also underlie the generation of the extraordinary beetle larval eyes. This work is exciting and important because it allows us to determine which developmental features are fundamental to eye development and to identify how common genetic pathways are tweaked by evolution to give rise to functionally different organizations.



Rose Conley is a part-time MS student since 2015. She studies photoreceptor-stack recycling in Thermonectus. Her data suggests that in the diving beetle eyes a large pigment cell may play a major role in that process. This is exciting because it means that the Thermonectus system in some way is more similar to vertebrates than other insects.




Madeline Owens started in the lab as undergraduate student and joined the MS program in 2016. She is investigating whether arthropods need visual input to develop correctly focused eyes. Madeline is conducting her studies on beetle larvae, flies and spiders.





Jenni Hassert is a MS student since 2016. She is using RNAi to knock down a key lens protein of the diving beetle larval eyes. Her experiments are exciting as they allow her to test if and to what extent the beetle eye can compensate for such induced perturbations.





Miranda Brafford is a pre-optometry undergraduate student who joined the lab in Fall 2016. She investigates degeneration of photoreceptors in jumping spiders. Based on initial observation such degeneration is most severe in the central high-density areas (functionally equivalent to our macula). She currently investigates if such “macular degeneration” could be induced through malnutrition.




Winter Partin is an undergraduate student in the lab since Spring 2017. His project is in collaboration with Dr. Tiffany Cook (Wayne State University School of Medicine). Winter investigate how the knock-down of water channels in eye-glia influences the ability of eye’s of fruit flies to focus correctly.





Hailey Tobler has been our invaluable insect caretaker, providing us with new beetle embryos, larvae and adults.






Taryn Miller, Avery Wiesenberger & Duc (Mike) Le joined the lab in Fall 2017. They joined our collaborative efforts with Dr. Tiffany Cook (Wayne State University School of Medicine) and are quickly learning how to use our ophthalmoscope, and how to conduct electrophysiological recordings from Drosophila eyes. Stay tuned for specific projects.





Annette Stowasser worked as post-doc, with Dr. Wagenaar, and us after which she accepted an Educator Faculty position in the University of Cincinnati’s Undergraduate Neuroscience Program. She continues to collaborate with us and frequently joins us in the summer.






Former Graduate Students and post-docs

Aaron Stahl received his PhD in Summer 2017. After graduating he joined Dr. Tomchik’s Laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida.






Sri Pratima Nandamuri obtained an MS degree in 2012 and went on to join a PhD program at the University of Maryland.






Nadine Stecher obtained a PhD in 2011 and now holds a faculty position at Wentworth Institute of Technology.






Srdjan Maksimovic got his PhD in 2010. After graduation he went on to pursue a postdoc at Columbia Medical School and now is a Senior Research Scientist at Colgate-Palmolive.





Karunyakanth Mandapaka obtained his MS in 2005, after which he joined the PhD program at Cincinnati Children’s hospital and later took on a faculty position in India.