Lab Director Dr. Kara E. Yopak Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of Western Australia PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, 2007 BA, Biology, Boston University, 2002 Twitter: @ProfSharkBrain yopakk@uncw.edu Research Interests When I was five years old, I announced to my mom that I wanted to be an ichthyologist who studies sharks. And that enthusiasm never waned. I received my B.A. in Biology (with a specialization in marine science) from Boston University in 2002 and completed my PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 2007, before completing postdocs at the University of California San Diego and the University of Western Australia. In this time, my research has focused on comparative neurobiology and the adaptive, developmental, and phylogenetic forces acting on evolution of the brain, particularly within the clade of cartilaginous fishes. My research interests lie in the evolution of neural systems, particularly the ways in which variation in brain size, structure, and cellular composition underlies complex behaviors and cognitive capacity in fishes. Through my academic career, I have found the best way to answer scientific questions is to cross traditional academic boundaries, employing novel techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and flow cytometry, in conjunction with traditional histology and comparative phylogenetic statistics, and applying these seemingly disparate methods to explore the adaptive, developmental, and evolutionary processes driving brain evolution. As such, I consider myself an integrative biologist, with research at the nexus between marine biology, neuroscience, functional morphology, evolutionary biology, and MR physics. If you want to hear about some of our ongoing projects, check out our Research page. Photo credit: Jeff Janowski Professional Memberships Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Society for Neuroscience (SfN) J.B. Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience (JBJC) Oceania Chondrichthyan Society (OCS) American Elasmobranch Society (AES) Selected Professional Service UNCW Neuroscience Minor Steering Committee Scientific Advisory Board, oVert: Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D, a NSF-funded Thematic Collections Network (TCN), NSF’s Advancing the Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) program Program Committee, J.B. Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience Vice President, Oceania Chondrichthyan Society Executive Council, Oceania Chondrichthyan Society Chair, American Elasmobranch Society Carrier Award Committee Guest Editor of a special issue of Brain Behavior and Evolution: “The Nervous System of Cartilaginous Fishes” (Vol 80 (2): 73-166) Graduate/Honors Committee MSc Candidate, Carrie Rowlands, University of North Carolina Wilmington MSc Candidate, Kelly Platfoot, University of North Carolina Wilmington MSc Candidate, Alana Arnone, University of North Carolina Wilmington MSc, confirmed, Samantha Ehnert, University of North Florida

Lab Director

Dr. Kara E. Yopak

Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of Western Australia

PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, 2007
BA, Biology, Boston University, 2002

Twitter: @ProfSharkBrain
yopakk@uncw.edu

KaraYopak_preview

Research Interests

When I was five years old, I announced to my mom that I wanted to be an ichthyologist who studies sharks. And that enthusiasm never waned.

I received my B.A. in Biology (with a specialization in marine science) from Boston University in 2002 and completed my PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 2007, before completing postdocs at the University of California San Diego and the University of Western Australia. In this time, my research has focused on comparative neurobiology and the adaptive, developmental, and phylogenetic forces acting on evolution of the brain, particularly within the clade of cartilaginous fishes.

My research interests lie in the evolution of neural systems, particularly the ways in which variation in brain size, structure, and cellular composition underlies complex behaviors and cognitive capacity in fishes. Through my academic career, I have found the best way to answer scientific questions is to cross traditional academic boundaries, employing novel techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and flow cytometry, in conjunction with traditional histology and comparative phylogenetic statistics, and applying these seemingly disparate methods to explore the adaptive, developmental, and evolutionary processes driving brain evolution. As such, I consider myself an integrative biologist, with research at the nexus between marine biology, neuroscience, functional morphology, evolutionary biology, and MR physics.

If you want to hear about some of our ongoing projects, check out our Research page.

Photo credit: Jeff Janowski
Photo credit: Jeff Janowski

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB)
  • Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
  • J.B. Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience (JBJC)
  • Oceania Chondrichthyan Society (OCS)
  • American Elasmobranch Society (AES)

Selected Professional Service

  • UNCW Neuroscience Minor Steering Committee
  • Scientific Advisory Board, oVert: Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D, a NSF-funded Thematic Collections Network (TCN), NSF’s Advancing the Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) program
  • Program Committee, J.B. Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience
  • Vice President, Oceania Chondrichthyan Society
  • Executive Council, Oceania Chondrichthyan Society
  • Chair, American Elasmobranch Society Carrier Award Committee
  • Guest Editor of a special issue of Brain Behavior and Evolution: “The Nervous System of Cartilaginous Fishes” (Vol 80 (2): 73-166)

Graduate/Honors Committee

  • MSc Candidate, Carrie Rowlands, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • MSc Candidate, Kelly Platfoot, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • MSc Candidate, Alana Arnone, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • MSc, confirmed, Samantha Ehnert, University of North Florida