Kier Lab

People in the Kier Lab

William M. Kier

I received my Ph.D. in Zoology in 1983 at Duke University, where I was a student of Stephen A. Wainwright.  After leaving Duke I was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA.  Following my postdoc at WHOI, I was a National Science Foundation-NATO Postdoctoral Scholar and worked at the Marine Biological Association of the UK Laboratories in Plymouth, England and the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, Italy.  I joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985 and am currently Chair of the Department of Biology. For additional information, please see my CV.

Students / Postdocs

Justin Shaffer, SPIRE Postdoctoral Fellow

I am interested in the diversity of protein sequence, structure, and function, and how changes in sequence can lead to (sometimes drastic) changes in function.  As a postdoc in the Kier lab, I am studying the diversity of the motor protein myosin, the major contractile protein in muscle, in cephalopods including squid, octopus and cuttlefish.  I am also devoted to undergraduate education, teaching, and mentoring.  Starting in spring 2012 I will be teaching introductory biology as an Adjunct Professor at North Carolina A&T State University while continuing my research here in Chapel Hill.
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation:  Interactions between cardiac myosin binding protein-C and actin contribute to the regulation of muscle contraction, 2010.

Jessica Kurth, Ph.D. Student

I am a Ph.D. student interested in invertebrate functional morphology.  I graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with a bachelors degree in marine science/biology.  I was also the first student the Marine Sciences Department at Rutgers to graduate with a 4.0 grade point average.  I began graduate school at UNC in August 2010.  My dissertation project concerning scaling effects on the structure and function of burrowing invertebrates with hydrostatic skeletons.  My science blog:
Proposed Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: Scale effects on the mechanics and kinematics of soft-bodied burrowers.

Carlos M. De Castro, Undergraduate Student


(under construction)


Former students and postdocs

Dr. Andrew M. Smith

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Biology, Ithaca College
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: Adhesion and the Tensile Strength of Water in Nature, 1992

Dr. Sönke Johnsen

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Duke University
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: The Optical Design of the Photic System of Ophiuroids, 1996

Dr. Joseph T. Thompson

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Franklin and Marshall University
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: The Ontogeny of Mantle Structure and Function in the Oval Squid Sepioteuthis lessoniana (Cephalopoda, Loliginidae), 2000

Dr. Diara D. Spain

Associate Professor, Department of Natural Science & Mathematics, Dominican University of California
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: Peristaltic Locomotion in Holothuroids: Morphology and Movement, 2002

Dr. Rebecca Price

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences,  University of Washington, Bothell
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: The Function, Macroevolution, and Macroecology of the Internal Ornamentation in Neogastropods, University of Chicago, 2003.
SPIRE Postdoctoral Scholar, 2004-2006

Dr. Jennifer R.A. Taylor

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: Hydrostatic Skeletons in the Crustacea:  Support During Molting in an Aquatic and a Terrestrial Crab, 2007

Dr. Theodore A. Uyeno

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Valdosta State University
Title of Ph.D. Dissertation: The Morphology and Biomechanics of the Muscle Articulation: A New Class of Soft Tissue Joint, 2007