Our lab uses the migratory monarch butterfly to study animal migration, the role of circadian clocks in regulating animal physiology and behavior, and the evolution of the animal clockwork.
Most recent news
The lab receives funding from the NSF to study the epigenetic regulation of seasonal behavior. Can't wait to get started on this project...(05/18)
Our circadian work on the monarch butterfly was recognized at SRBR by the 2018 Junior Faculty Research Award to Christine Merlin. What a great honor and good day for monarchs. Many thanks! (05/18)
Congratulations to Ashley Hayden for winning a 2018-2019 Astronaut Scholarship and joining an elite group of undergraduates with outstanding promise in research. (05/18)
Congratulations to graduate students Sam Iiams for her 2018 International Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) Patricia DeCoursey Research Excellence Award and to Aldrin Lugena for his 2018 SRBR Trainee Research Merit Award. Sam nailing her first big talk was a very proud moment for the lab! (05/18)
The monarch butterfly offers unique opportunities to provide mechanistic insights into these questions because monarchs perform one of the most impressive long-distance migration, they rely on their circadian clock for navigation, and we now have the capability to apply genomic and reverse-genetic approaches to identify candidate genes and test their function in vivo. The directions that our research program is taking us can be found in greater details in the Research section.
We are part of the Center for Biological Clocks Research, which provides fantastic opportunities for training in circadian biology. Applicants interested in joining a dynamic group are invited to look at our open positions here.
Migratory monarchs roosting at their overwintering sites in Mexico (Photo credit: Monarch Watch)
Dr. Merlin with Postdoc Dr. Zhang
Populations to molecular genetics
Our lab uses laboratory raised and wild populations of monarch butterflies to study the genetic, neural and evolutionary basis of migration and clockwork mechanism in animals
The first we captured in the wild when we set up the lab!
Migratory monarchs in flight
Migrating monarchs use their antennae for maintaining a directional flight bearing (Photo credit: Monarch Watch)
Undergrads keeping monarchs happy!
Kendall Bowen and Sarah Kenny feeding monarchs, ensuring that our colony is being kept healthy.
Outreach at Branch Elementary, TX
Dr. Christine Merlin explains the life cycle and behavior of butterflies to 3rd graders after catching a Papilio in their school's butterfly garden.
Save the Monarchs: Plant milkweeds
This is what these 3rd graders from Branch Elementary are doing, using recycled tires as milkweed pots (in yellow).
Tag recovery in Mexico
Monarch tagging programs initiated by Fred Urquhart and continued by Chip Taylor help understand migratory patterns. Monarch Watch buying tags recovered by locals at the overwintering sites in Mexico (Photo credit: Monarch Watch)
Sam Iiams brings home yet another poster prize from the Texas Society for Circadian Biology and Medicine meeting. Well done, Sam. (03/18)