James C. Liao, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
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Jimmy received a B.A. in Biology from Wesleyan University in 1996 where he worked on elasmobranch electroreception in David Bodznick’s laboratory. He completed his Ph.D. in Biology at Harvard University from 1999-2004 investigating how fish swim in turbulent flows in George Lauder’s laboratory. He then worked as a postdoctoral research assistant at Cornell University from 2004-2008 on the neural circuits of behavior in zebrafish in Joe Fetcho’s laboratory. He started as an assistant professor in the biology department at University of Florida in 2009. He is currently funded by the NIH and NSF.


EliasElias Lunsford
Biology Graduate Student

Elias received a B.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Ecology from Seattle Pacific University in 2013. While at SPU he studied the chemically mediated interactions of sea stars and mussels when exposed to natural borne toxins as consequence of harmful algal blooms, with Dr. Ryan Ferrer. He later was a research intern at the University of Washington in a neuroethology lab with Dr. Jeff Riffell, investigating the olfaction-gated flight behavior of pollinators in response to different chemical constituents of flower aromas. Joining the Liao Lab in 2016, Elias plans to investigate the integration of two sensory modalities, chemical sensing and flow sensing, and how fish alter their swimming behavior to effectively sense and track a chemical stimulus in a turbulent flow environment.


IMG_1069 Anna Thornton
Lab Tech/Research Assistant

Anna received a B.S. in Biology from Stetson University in 2016. In her undergraduate career Anna studied the frequency of aerial respiration in the juvenile armored catfish (Ptergoplichthys disjunctivus) with Dr. Melissa Gibbs. Anna’s internship was done with the FWC investigating the critically threatened small-toothed sawfish (Pristis pectinata) with Dr. Greg Poulakis. Anna is fascinated with the aquatic world and its inhabitants, but one of Anna’s many passions is shark research. She has volunteered many hours with the RJ Dunlap Shark Research Program out of the University of Miami. Anna joined the Liao lab in August of 2017 as a volunteer lab technician and research assistant. She will be assisting the Liao lab for the next year!




dimitriDimitri Skandalis
Postdoctoral Associate

Dimitri is a zoologist who has spent most of his career studying metabolic physiology and biomechanics of animal flight, most recently the hovering flight of hummingbirds. He is broadly interested in locomotor variability and evolution, especially how and why individuals differ in locomotor performance, and what this can tell us about evolutionary diversification.

Dimitri is Canadian, and received his BSc from Brock University in St. Catharines (near Niagara Falls), and his MSc from the University of Ottawa in Ottawa. His PhD research was conducted with Dr. Douglas Altshuler at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he will be defending his dissertation at the end of November. Dimitri now joins the Liao Lab as a Postdoctoral Associate, and plans to research the development of the larval zebrafish sensorimotor network, and how it may be plastically reorganised by mechanosensory feedback. Dimitri also enjoys traveling, and photography and illustration.


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