Scroll down to read about the department's laboratories, or use the links to skip straight to information on a specific lab.

Goby dissection

Environmental Proteomics Laboratory (EPL)

The Environmental Proteomics Laboratory (EPL) focuses on the changes in levels of protein expression in response to environmental stress. We quantify the expression (or synthesis) levels of proteins with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D GE) and identify proteins using mass spectrometry. The parallel changes in expression, so-called co-expression patterns or protein profiles, provide us with a comprehensive picture of the simultaneous changes that occur while an organism is experiencing thermal, oxidative and osmotic stress in its environment.

In the EPL, Professor Lars Tomanek and his students apply a proteomic approach (expression proteomics) to address some basic questions in ecology and evolution: How are organisms adapted to their environment? How do they differ in their ability to respond to environmental change? How do these differences in protein expression limit the ecological niche an organism can occupy? Which proteins are the “weak links,” and which ones are always working no matter which environment the organism is found in? What is the unity in physiological design? What are the underlying mechanisms for the diversity of physiological systems, and how do these differences determine the ecological boundaries of species distributions?

Left: dissection of a Goby. Photo courtesy EPL.

Contact: EPL Director Professor Lars Tomanek

View the EPL website ›

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California Condor

Lab of Organismal and Molecular Evolution (LMOE) 

The lab is home to Professor Francis Villablanca and the majority of his students. LMOE's primary focus is on endangered species. The lab also functions as a bridge between evolution and ecology. The LMOE lab group works to study organisms within their natural environments, recognizing that ecological variables affect demography and population genetic structure.

The lab is set up to study genetic diversity and genetic structure at the population level and phylogenetics at the species level. Research project goals focus on defining different units of biological diversity and understanding mechanisms that lead to their differentiation. LMOE projects use mitochondrial DNA sequences, nuclear DNA sequences, and microsatellite markers from contemporary samples and from museum specimens in research, as well as other analytical methods, including:

  • Phylogenetic reconstruction
  • Statistical phylogeography
  • Coalescence, recombination
  • Estimation of models of molecular evolution
  •  Association between genotypes and phenotypic characters

Some students in the LMOE use simulations to explore the behavior and power of analytical software that addresses molecular evolution or population genetic questions.

The LMOE group has been actively pursuing research in endangered California Condors, Salt Marsh Harvest Mice, Morro Bay Kangaroo Rats, Black Footed Ferrets, and La Graciosa Thistles. Research on non-endangered species includes the American Bison and the Cabezon. 

Left: California Condor

Contact: LMOE Director Professor Francis Villablanca

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Red and white snake

Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Lab (PERL)

The Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Lab (PERL) studies the ecology, physiology and behavior of free-ranging reptiles in Central and Southern California. Research in PERL examines reproductive physiology and physiological trade-offs in reptiles.

In particular, much of the lab's research revolves around testosterone, a potent androgen that stimulates the expression of male-typical behaviors and physiological responses. It often results in a major re-direction of energy toward these responses.

For example, during breeding seasons, increases in testosterone concentrations may cause male reptiles to expend more energy on movement, territory guarding, and mate-searching and defense. The negative energy balance induced by testosterone during breeding seasons may affect immune function, growth, fat reserves, and other factors. We are particularly interested in measuring immune function and parasites. Professor Taylor and her students are seeking to understand these trade-offs in reptiles in laboratory and field settings.

Left: Sonoran mountain kingsnake. Photo courtesy Professor Taylor.

Contact: Professor Emily Taylor

Go to the PERL website ›

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A Jasco V-550 Spectrophotometer

Undergraduate Biotechnology Laboratory (UBL)

The Undergraduate Biotechnology Laboratory (UBL) houses biotechnology equipment used year-round for undergraduate research and the development of course-specific exercises for undergraduate classes. The UBL is co-funded by Cal Poly and a National Science Foundation grant.

Left: Jasco V-550 Photospectrometer 

Contact: UBL Director Professor Michael Black

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Biological Sciences Computer Lab

Fisher Science Hall (33), Room 258

The Biological Sciences Computer Lab is largely a drop-in lab for students from 8am to 8pm, Mondays through Thursdays and 8am - 5pm on Fridays. The lab has 24 iMac workstations running OSX, and one Windows 7 workstation.  A color laser printer is available and payable via PolyCard at 10 cents per page for black & white and 20 cents per page for color letter-sized paper. 

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