Kier Lab

Lab News

T.A. Uyeno and W.M. Kier receive The Reinhard Rieger Award in Zoomorphology, 2015

Fall 2015 - Former Ph.D. student Ted Uyeno and W. M. Kier received the Reinhard Rieger Award in Zoomorphology for their paper: Uyeno, T.A. and Kier, W.M. (2015) The structure and function of a muscle articulation-type jaw joint of a polychaete worm. Journal of Morphology. 276: 403-414.

W.M. Kier completes cross-country cycling trip

Summer 2014 - W. M. Kier and spouse Kathleen Smith completed a cross-country cycling trip on their tandem bicycle.  They started in Kitty Hawk, NC and followed a route that finished in Florence, OR, a distance of 4,318 miles.

Jessica Kurth’s research featured in Inside JEB

Spring 2014 - Ph.D. student Jessica Kurth’s research [Kurth, J.A. and Kier, W.M. (2014) Scaling of the hydrostatic skeleton of the earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris. Journal of Experimental Biology. 217: 1860-1867.] is featured in the Inside JEB section of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

W.M. Kier gives the Schmidt Nielsen Memorial Lecture

Spring 2014 - W. M. Kier presented the Schmidt Nielsen Memorial Lecture in the Department of Biology, Duke University, entitled “How Squid Build Fast Muscle”.  The lecture is sponsored by the Duke University Biology Majors Union and the Department of Biology and honors the late Professor Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, a pioneer in the field of comparative physiology.

W.M. Kier visits Hopkins Marine Station

Spring 2014 - As part of his Research and Study Leave, W. M. Kier visited Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA where he worked in collaboration with Dr. William Gilly conducting preliminary experiments on squid muscle membrane physiology.  Dr. Gilly was successful in patch clamping isolated muscle fibers from the squid Doryteuthis opalescens, which revealed exciting differences in the fast-contracting tentacle and slow-contracting arm muscle fibers.  Kier and Gilly hope to follow up on these preliminary results with a more extensive study in the future.

New Ph.D. student Julia Olszewski joins Kier laboratory

Fall 2013 - Ms. Julia Olszewski, who recently graduated from Brown University, has joined the Kier laboratory as a first-year Ph.D. student.

W. M. Kier completes term as Chair of Biology

Summer 2013 - At the end of June W. M. Kier completed his 5 year term as Chair of the Department of Biology at UNC-Chapel Hill..

Postdoc Dr. Justin Shaffer offered position at UC Irvine

Spring 2013 - Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Justin Shaffer has accepted the offer of a position of Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine starting Fall 2013.

Dr. Jennifer Taylor presents Sequoyah Lecture

Spring 2013 - Former Ph.D. student Dr. Jennifer Taylor is one of the featured speakers for the third annual Sequoyah Lecture at UNC-CH.   The lecture is connected with the Sequoyah Fellowship, within the Royster Society of Fellows, the Graduate School’s most selective fellowship program..

Dr. Jennifer Taylor moves to Scripps

Fall 2012 - Former Ph.D. student Dr. Jennifer Taylor has accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.  She is excited about moving back to California and will start her new position in the spring, 2013.

W. M. Kier gives Keynote Address for SE SICB Meetings

Fall 2012 - W. M. Kier presented a lecture for the Southeast Regional Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Charleston, SC entitled “Fast and slow squid muscle:  an integrative analysis of fiber evolution and specialization”.

W.M. Kier conducts fieldwork at Darling Marine Center, Maine

Summer 2012 - W.M. Kier and former Ph.D. student Dr. Joseph T. Thompson, (Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA)  spent the summer conducting research on squid mantle muscle at the Darling Marine Center (University of Maine), Walpole, ME.  The research is part of a collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation entitled Non-Uniform Distribution of Muscle Fiber Strain in Squid Mantle Muscle:  Implications for Musculoskeletal System Structure, Function, and Evolution (IOS-0951067). 

W. M. Kier presents invited lecture at Living Machines, Barcelona

Summer 2012 - W. M. Kier was invited to present a talk at the conference, Living Machines, The International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Barcelona, Spain.  The talk was entitled “The morphology and biomechanics of muscular hydrostats” and was part of a symposium on biologically inspired robotics.

W. M. Kier presents invited lecture at SEB, Salzburg

Summer 2012 - W. M. Kier was invited to present a symposium talk at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology, Salzburg, Austria.  The talk was entitled “Structural modulation of shortening velocity in cephalopod muscle” and was part of a symposium entitled “Structural modulators of muscle contraction affecting animal locomotion and behaviour”.

W. M Kier presents invited lecture at Society for the Neural Control of Movement, Venice

Spring 2012 - W. M. Kier was invited to present a talk at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neural Control of Movement held in Venice, Italy.  The title was “Morphology and biomechanics of muscular hydrostats” and was part of a symposium on neural control of movement in cephalopods.

Postdoc Dr. Justin Shaffer's work featured in Inside JEB

Spring 2012 - Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Justin Shaffer's work [Shaffer, J.F. and Kier, W.M. (2012) Muscular tissues of the squid Doryteuthis pealeii express identical myosin heavy chain isoforms: an alternative mechanism for tuning contractile speed. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 239-246.] is featured in the Inside JEB section of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Future science teacher Ms. Alli Sarfati interns in Kier laboratory

Summer 2011 - Ms. Alli Sarfati interns with postdoc Dr. Justin Shaffer in the Kier laboratory as part of the HHMI Future Teacher Internship.  Alli is a student in the UNC BEST program, a fast-track teacher licensure program that allows undergraduates at UNC Chapel Hill to earn their high school teaching license while they work toward their bachelor's degree.  Based on her work in the laboratory she developed a learning module entitled Proteins of the Deep Sea, which is designed to provide self-study opportunities and curriculum support to high school science teachers, advanced high school students, undergraduates and graduate students at the University of North Carolina.

Dr. Ted Uyeno begins new position at Valdosta State University

Summer 2011 - Former Ph.D. student Dr. Ted Uyeno begins a new position as Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA.

W.M. Kier conducts fieldwork at Darling Marine Center, Maine

Summer 2011 - W.M. Kier and former Ph.D. student Dr. Joseph T. Thompson, (Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA)  spent the summer conducting research on squid mantle muscle at the Darling Marine Center (University of Maine), Walpole, ME.  The research is part of a collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation entitled Non-Uniform Distribution of Muscle Fiber Strain in Squid Mantle Muscle:  Implications for Musculoskeletal System Structure, Function, and Evolution (IOS-0951067). 

New Ph.D. student Jessica Kurth joins Kier laboratory

Fall 2010 - Ms. Jessica Kurth, who recently graduated from Rutgers University, has joined the Kier laboratory as a first-year Ph.D. student.  

Dr. Justin Shaffer joins Kier laboratory

Fall 2010 - Dr. Justin Shaffer has started a position as a SPIRE Postdoctoral Scholar in the laboratory of W. M. Kier.  Justin recently received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, where he worked on the molecular mechanism of cardiac myosin binding protein-C.  He will be conducting research on the molecular biology of myofilament proteins in cephalopods.  

Dr. Jennifer Taylor begins new position at Indiana University-Purdue University

Summer 2010 - Former Ph.D. student Dr. Jennifer Taylor begins a new position as Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN.

W.M. Kier conducts fieldwork at Darling Marine Center, Maine

Summer 2010 - W.M. Kier and former Ph.D. student Dr. Joseph T. Thompson, (Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA)  spent the summer conducting research on squid mantle muscle at the Darling Marine Center (University of Maine), Walpole, ME.  The research is part of a collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation entitled Non-Uniform Distribution of Muscle Fiber Strain in Squid Mantle Muscle:  Implications for Musculoskeletal System Structure, Function, and Evolution (IOS-0951067). 

Dr. Andrew M. Smith visits Kier laboratory

Fall 2009 - Former Ph.D. student, Dr. Andrew M. Smith, Associate Professor, Ithaca College, visited the Kier laboratory to conduct a morphological study of the secretory cells of the foot of slugs.  The work is part of his ongoing research, which investigates the nature of the adhesive secretions of a variety of molluscs.

W. M. Kier presents at 1st International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology, Copenhagen, Denmark

Summer 2008 - W. M. Kier attended the 1st International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology, Copenhagen, Denmark where he presented a talk entitled Invertebrate Muscle Specialization:  Morphological Modulation in Squid.

W. M. Kier appointed Chair of the Department of Biology

Summer 2008 - On July 1 W. M. Kier began a 5 year term as the Chair of the Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Newly renovated laboratory completed

Spring and Summer 2007 - W. M. Kier moves into newly renovated laboratory space in room 313 Wilson Hall.   The laboratory was renovated as part of the overall renovations of Old Wilson Hall and is beautiful!

Jennifer Taylor receives two prestigious postdoctoral fellowships

Spring 2007 - Ph.D. student Jennifer Taylor was awarded both a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship and National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.  She has accepted the NSF fellowship and will be conducting her postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Prof. Sheila Patek, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley.

Ted Uyeno invited to join laboratory of Prof Kiisa Nishakawa

Spring 2007 - Ph.D. student Ted Uyeno has been invited to join the laboratory of Prof Kiisa Nishikawa as a postdoctoral researcher.  Prof Nishikawa is in the Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.

W. M. Kier presents at World Congress of Biomechanics, Munich, Germany

Summer 2006 - W.M. Kier presented an invited paper entitled Muscle Specialization in the Squid Motor System at the Swimming and Flying symposium organized by Prof Johan van Leeuwen and Prof Charlie Ellington during the World Congress of Biomechanics in Munich Germany, July 29-August 4 2007.

Jennifer Taylor's research featured in Nature

Spring 2006 - Congratulations to Ph.D. student Jennifer Taylor for her recent publication in Nature describing her research on the hydrostatic skeleton of the blackback land crab.  Articles and stories describing her work appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, National Geographic, and on radio by The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Ted Uyeno inducted to the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Student Honor Society

Spring 2006 - Ph.D. student Ted Uyeno was inducted to the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Student Honor Society.  The society recognizes outstanding service provided to the university and community by graduate students enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Prof. Joe Thompson's research featured in Inside JEB

Spring 2006 - A paper describing the results of a collaborative project with former Ph.D. student Joe Thompson, now an Assistant Professor at Franklin and Marshall University is featured in an article in the Inside JEB section of the Journal of Experimental Biology.   The research suggests that developing squid modulate the shortening velocity of their mantle muscle by adjusting the thick myofilament length.

Jennifer Taylor receives prestigious UNC fellowship

Spring 2005 - Ph.D. student Jennifer Taylor was awarded The Sequoyah Dissertation Fellowship for the academic year 2005-2006 from the Graduate School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to receiving the Fellowship, Jennifer was invited for membership in the Royster Society of Fellows of the UNC Graduate School.  Students in the Royster Society of Fellows act as ambassadors for graduate education within and beyond the University. Membership in the society is the highest honor awarded by the Graduate School to graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jennifer Taylor receives Ford Foundation fellowship

Spring 2005 - Ph.D. student Jennifer Taylor was awarded a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2005-2006.  The competition for these fellowships is intense as only 35 are awarded nationally each year.

Ted Uyeno receives Best Student Paper Award

Spring 2005 - Ph.D. student Ted Uyeno was awarded the Best Student Paper Award for the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.  His poster was entitled The Function of Cephalopod Buccal Mass Musculature.

Prof Sönke Johnsen receives NSF funding

January 2005 – We have learned that a collaborative project with former Ph.D. student Sönke Johnsen, now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, Duke University, was funded by the National Science Foundation. The project is led by Dr. Johnsen and is focused on an analysis of the mechanisms used by a variety of animals to achieve transparency. Transparency is used as a form of camouflage in the open ocean and in many freshwater habitats as well. Dr. Johnsen has developed the optical theory to explain how the ultrastructural characteristics of cells might be altered in order to achieve transparency. We will be testing the predictions of this theory by examining with transmission electron microscopy the muscle of closely related transparent and opaque fish species.

Kier Lab granted funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

December 2004 – We have been notified that we will be granted the next phase of funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a collaborative project that is developing a novel class of robotic arms based on inspiration from the structure, function, and neural control of the arms of octopuses. For additional information on the project, including videos of the early versions of the robotic arm visit the Octor website.