Curatorial Staff

Dr. Gustav Paulay
Curator of Marine Malacology



John Slapcinsky
Collections Manager


Curatorial Assistants

Amanda Bemis
Collections Assistant

Mandy has been working in the Invertebrate Zoology division of the FLMNH since 2004. In addition to assisting with whatever needs doing in the collection, she also dabbles in the taxonomy of Phyllidiid sea slugs.

Research Associates and Scholars

Dr. François Michonneau
PEET project site:

Research Statement

I’m interested in the generation and maintenance of marine invertebrate biodiversity (evolution, phylogeny, speciation, biogeography and community ecology). I’ve started my PhD in August 2006 as a trainee of the PEET project “Sea cucumbers on coral reefs: systematics of aspidochirotid holothurians”. This project aims to revise the order Aspidochirotida thanks to a collaborative effort by using morphological and molecular systematics.

PhD Students

Nathaniel Evans

Research Statement

Broadly speaking I am interested in understanding the evolutionary history (systematics, biogeography, speciation and morphological evolution) of marine invertebrates, especially crustaceans. My dissertations research includes the combination of molecular and geometric morphometric data to explore morphological diversification within a number of lineages of portunid swimming crabs. Much of this work focuses on the diverse but poorly studied genus Thalamita (~91 spp.). However, I am also interested in understanding how morphological evolution proceeded leading up to the emergence of commensalism in other portunid clades.

Where possible I also participate in biodiversity surveys carried out by the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the FLMNH. This work is necessarily collaborative in nature and I benefit greatly from interacting with many, very experienced researchers. To this end, my PhD work has included developing a significant skill set in collection, identification, and curation of specimens (especially crustaceans) for future morphological and molecular work. In the process my understanding and appreciation of invertebrate biodiversity has rapidly expanded. I find this work incredibly rewarding particularly when I can share my knowledge with others through teaching and outreach.

Jenna Moore


I am interested in the phylogeny, systematics, and evolution of Annelida, particularly in the family Chaetopteridae. Chaetopteridae are a globally distributed clade of marine worms with bizarre morphologies which have been shown to be among the earliest diverging lineages in the most recent phylogeny of Annelida. For my dissertation, I am resolving the systematics of this family using a phylogenetic approach. The functional morphological evolution of Chaetopteridae as it relates to feeding mode is also a key focus of my research.
Patrick Norby

Research Statement

I am fascinated by the natural history of the Earth and its inhabitants! I am broadly interested in how both abiotic and biotic processes have shaped the world around us and generated the incredible variety of both extinct and extant taxa. My research interests center on the evolution of marine invertebrate biodiversity, the processes that drive the origin and distribution of species, and how our understanding of these processes can be used to inform management and conservation strategies.

John Slapcinsky

Research Statement

Housing, agriculture and industry are rapidly replacing natural habitats. Animals and plants adapted to natural areas are being replaced with exotic generalists spread by commerce. Both problems homogenize the planets faunas. In many cases faunal changes occur before areas are surveyed, this is especially true for invertebrates. In some parts of the world most invertebrate species remain unknown and are in danger of being extirpated before being discovered. Even in North America among the best known invertebrate faunas in the world, new species are discovered frequently. Most of these are small and restricted to patchily distributed and poorly sampled microhabitats. More…

John Starmer

Dissertation Research

I am interested in undertstanding how modern and historical processes interact to create and limit biodiversity at local and regional scales. I am studying aspidochirote sea cucumber phylogenetics (Synallactidae, Holothuriidae, Stichopodidae) with a focus on the stichopodids. I hope to determine if habitat specificity influenced the group’s ability to diversify in shallow water tropical versus shallow-temperate and deep water environments.

Student Volunteers