A pacific leaping blenny caught in a hand net

Keiffer Williams

Research Q & A

What’s your hometown?

Huntington, Indiana

What are you currently working on?

The morphology and evolution of tooth replacement in a group of marine fishes, the combtooth blennies.

How are you working toward that goal?

I am using Bell Museum specimens of combtooth blennies to understand the complex process of tooth replacement in combtooth blennies. I use methods that include histology, clearing and staining, and micro-CT to understand the morphology of tooth replacement in these fishes. I am also collecting data to understand how tooth replacement has evolved across these fishes.

Why are you focusing your work in that area?

Blennies exhibit interesting patterns of tooth attachment to their jaws ranging from teeth attached firmly to the bones of the jaw, loosely attached, or weakly attached via loose connective tissue and extending beyond the margins of the jawbones. Although noted by previous fish morphologists, tooth replacement in these fishes has historically been overlooked due to the complexity of their dentition. I am using my MS research to understand and describe the modes of tooth replacement exhibited by combtooth blennies in order to better understand how it has evolved across the group.

Where are you working on research/field work?

I work in the Bell Museum ichthyology collections, and I conducted field research in Guam where I collected specimens for my research.

What will your next steps/research be?

My next steps are to complete my MS thesis and to continue researching fish morphological evolution in a Ph.D. program.

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