Our Team

Principal Investigator: 

Bio + Curriculum VitaeGoogle Scholar,   Research Gate,  Orcid

Prof. S. N. Patek, Ph.D. is the Hehmeyer Professor of Biology and a Bass Fellow at Duke University. Patek received an A.B. with honors in Biology from Harvard University followed by a Ph.D. in Biology from Duke University. Patek was a postdoctoral fellow at the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at UC Berkeley.   Patek has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the George A. Bartholomew Award for distinguished contributions to comparative physiology, and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.


Associate in Research and Lab Manager:

Ben Schelling attended Dartmouth College, receiving a B.A. in Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies. While at Dartmouth, he worked as an undergraduate research assistant under the direction of Dr. Anne Kapuscinski. He helped test the implementation of experimental fish food for Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) using macro-algae supplemented diets, aimed to reduce phosphorus pollution from aquaculture farms. Additionally, he worked in Dr. Celia Chen’s Lab as a part of the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, investigating the impact that various environmental factors have on the biomagnification rate of MeHg from contaminated marine sediments through estuarine amphipods (Leptocheirus plumulosus). Most recently, he completed an internship with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations where he calculated the greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s small-scale fisheries.


Graduate Students:

Jason Dinh earned a B.S. in Biology from Duke University in 2018. Jason’s research addresses the physical and physiological rules that dictate signal structure and elaboration.  Jason’s research also examines soundscape ecology to understand how animals respond to marine soundscapes and how anthropogenic noise hinders these processes. His dissertation research focuses on signal honesty, animal weapons, and sensory biology.  Personal website

Justin Jorge received a B.A. in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017 where he worked in Dr. Mimi Koehl’s lab to investigate the biomechanics of single cell predators feeding on choanoflagellates. Justin’s research focuses on ultra-fast movements in nature, specifically those of trap-jaw ants and seed shooting plants such as the witch hazel.


Post-Baccalaureate Researcher:

Sophie Hanson received a B.S. in Biology and minor in Environmental Science & Policy in 2022 from Duke University where she studied both population genetics and comparative biomechanics. At the Duke Marine Lab, her undergraduate thesis focused on population genetics of short-finned pilot whales in the western North Atlantic. At the Patek Lab, she has completed two multi-semester-long projects: the first analyzed temporal kinematics of snapping shrimps’ rapid claw closure in varying temperatures and the second explored hybrid metachronal propulsion in mantis shrimp across different swimming behaviors. Sophie continues to seek a deeper understanding of biomechanical systems paired with hydrodynamics to study locomotion. 



Arianna Buchanan is studying Sociology and Biology. Her years of fish keeping and interest in marine animal care led her to the Patek lab, as an aquarium care assistant.

Grace Chung is studying Biology and Environmental Science with a concentration in Marine Science and Conservation. Her interest in marine ecology and biomechanics led her to researching snapping shrimp claw kinematics in the Patek Lab.

Yasuhiko Komatsu is studying biomedical engineering with plans to specialize in bioinspired engineering. His interest in nature observation and biomechanics led him to the Patek Lab where he studies development and kinematics of spring-driven strikes in snapping shrimp.

Katie Meehl is a Biology major with a Marine Science and Conservation minor. She is interested in medicine, ecosystem health, and animal morphology, leading her to the Patek Lab where she will be studying the muscles in the raptorial appendages of arthropods.
Emma Shuppert  is majoring in Marine Science and Conservation with minors in Environmental Sciences and Policy and Biology. She has always been interested in marine life and during her time at Duke has started to learn more about conservation and policy related to the ocean. She hopes to use a combination of these three areas in her future career. Her love for marine life drew her towards the Patek Lab, which ultimately allows her to further explore her interests in marine sciences.


Former lab undergraduates who continued on to graduate school (not a complete list):

Marco Mendoza Blanco, M.S., University of Southern California

Nikoletta Danos, Ph.D., Harvard University

Yasuhiko Komatsu, UMass Amherst

Dave Matthews, Ph.D., Harvard University

Lauren Shipp, Ph.D., Scripps Institute of Oceanography

William Van Trump, Ph.D., University of California Irvine

Jack Tseng, Ph.D., University of Southern California

Travis Zack, Ph.D., Harvard University


Former lab managers:

Joe Baio, Ph.D., University of Washington, now Associate Professor at Oregon State University

Rachel Crane, Ph.D., Stanford University

Leah Fitchett, M.S., Virginia Tech

Grace Farley, M.A.T., Duke; high school science teacher at Jordan High School, Durham, NC

Elizabeth Murphy, Ph.D., University of Virginia; Postdoc: Umea U.

Billy Ray, Ph.D. student, UC Santa Barbara

Erica Staaterman, Ph.D., University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Postdoc: Smithsonian Institution; Bioacoustician at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.


Former graduate students:

Suzanne Cox, M.S.M.E., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst; postdocs: Pennsylvania State University, UC Irvine, Duke; Senior Analyst, DEFCON AI

Maya deVries, Ph.D., University of California Berkeley; Postdoc: Scripps Institute of Oceanography; Assistant Professor at San Jose State University

Jacob Harrison, Ph.D., Duke University; Postdoc: Georgia Tech

Michael Rosario, M.S., University of Massachusetts Amherst; Ph.D., Duke University; Postdoc: Brown University; Assistant Professor at West Chester University

Patrick Green, Ph.D., Duke University; Postdoc: Duke University, U. Exeter


Former postdocs:

Phil Anderson, Associate Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Thomas Claverie, Maitre de Conferences, Centre Universitaire de Formation et de Recherche

Katsushi Kagaya, Postdoc, University of Tokyo

Chi Yun Kuo, Assistant Professor, Kaohsiung Medical University

Sarah Longo, Assistant Professor, Towson University

Martha Munoz, Assistant Professor, Yale University

Crystal Reynaga, Assistant Professor, Bryn Mawr College

Jennifer Taylor, Associate Professor, Scripps Institute of Oceanography