Dr. Lorian Schweikert   


  Principal Investigator


Credit:  Ted Harty

I am an Assistant Professor in the department of Biology and Marine Biology Department at UNCW. I earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Tampa and a doctorate in Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology. After, I studied sensory ecology in postdoctoral positions at Duke University, Florida International University, and the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology.


From this journey, my advice to you is to dare to take risks and to embrace the uncertainty that comes with conducting science and working toward a career in biology. It’s OKAY not to have all the answers in work or life, and ultimately accepting that will not only make you happier, but a better scientist.

Science is for everyone, and my lab has no greater priority than to advance that truth by fostering diversity and inclusion in science and beyond, through our actions, thoughts, and words. Our goal is to actively combat injustice in academia of marginalized groups by engaging in steps that include, but are not limited to: seeking education about the history of discrimination in academic biology, completing training against implicit bias, microagressions, and related behaviors, and advocating for cultural change toward equity in our interaction with other Seahawks, the public, and the larger scientific community. As a member of this lab, one is also a member of a university community that values and upholds these principles. UNCW's Diversity and Inclusion Statement is accessible here.


Lab Manager

Vivian Slye



B.S. Marine Biology, Minor in Psychology, UNCW

Interests: I have a deep curiosity about marine animal behavior, consciousness, and how their sensory systems influence their ability to perceive and interact with the environment.  And, I have a specific interest in how this impacts inter- and intraspecific communication and social dynamics.

Email: slyev@uncw.edu

Graduate Students

PhD Student

Lydia Naughton



B.S. Neuroscience, Bucknell University

Ph.D. Integrative, Comparative, and Marine Biology, UNCW (sought)

Interests: I am curious about how animals sense and interact with their environment in different ways. I am especially interested in understanding the sensory/neural basis of behaviors such as skin color change and camouflage.

Email: lfn1671@uncw.edu


Naughton, L.F., Kruppert, S., Jackson, B., Porter, M.E., & Donatelli, C.M. (2021). A Tail of Four Fishes: An Analysis of Kinematics and Material Properties of Elongate Fishes. Integrative and Comparative Biology, icab060. 

Freeman, M. Z., Cannizzaro, D.N., Naughton, L.F., & Bove, C. (2021). Fluoroquinolones-Associated Disability: It Is Not All in Your Head. NeuroSci, 2(3), 235–253. 

Vanessa Moreno

MSc Student



B.S. Marine Biology, Florida International University

MS.c. Marine Biology, UNCW (sought)

Interests: My interests consist of the factors that affect vision and ecological adaptations in fish, particularly in the way organisms use their senses to “see” their surroundings. Areas of interest include skin sensory systems of fish required for camouflage.

Email: vmm6449@uncw.edu


Schweikert, L.E., Thomas, K.N., Moreno, V.M., Casaubon, A., Golightly, C., Bracken-Grissom, H.D. 2022, in revision. Ecological Predictors and Functional Implications of Eye Size in Deep-Sea Shrimps. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Undergraduate Students

Jacob Bolin

BS Student



A.A.S. Cape Fear Community College

B.S. Marine Biology, Minor in Neuroscience, UNCW (sought)

Interests: My love for science and marine biology started at a very young age, but, more recently, I have found a deep intrigue in all areas of neuroscience. My interests are greatly rooted in the numerous unknowns of perception and how not just marine animals, but all animals, including humans, perceive, sense, and process the world. 

Email: jrb9795@uncw.edu

Makayla DePinto

BS Student



B.S. Biology, Minor in Chemistry, UNCW (sought)

Interests: I am interested in understanding how animals perceive their environment and how it relates to their ecological niche. More specifically, I am focused on the spatial vision of animals and plan to test this behaviorally through the use of an optomotor chamber.

Email: mrd9940@uncw.edu

Jenna Pullarkat

BS Student



B.S. Marine Biology, Minor in Neuroscience, UNCW (sought)

Interests: My interests are centered around understanding how a unique set of environmental conditions may affect marine animals' visual perception. More specifically, I am focused on the level of photosensitivity in the eyes of marine mammals as I plan to study melanopsin expression with the use of immunohistochemistry techniques.

Email: rrp7059@uncw.edu

Caitlin Clark-McClure       

BS Student


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B.S. Marine Biology,  UNCW (sought)

Interests: I came to science through birdwatching, and the intersection of nature and humanity has been intriguing to me. Why do some organisms thrive in the cities and the edges of urban landscapes while others suffer and decline? I'm curious to understand the adaptations and evolutionary pressures that allow some plants and animals to generalize and spread widely compared to species that specialize and are restricted to niche habitats.

Email: cmc8781@uncw.edu

Charles Spencer Hudson 

BS Student



A.A.S. Cape Fear Community College

B.S. Marine Biology, UNCW (sought)


Interests: My interests include the alignment of myself with people that can allow me to pursue an emersion in the study of life. Specifically, I love to collect ‘hard to get to’ specimens for research purposes. Being naturally curious, I am more than just a fisherman, which is why the scientific community appeals to me rather than commercial fishing. Dr. Schweikert, the lab, and the people within have been significant footholds in my journey, which I cannot express my gratitude for. Since joining the lab in late August, 2022, I have helped lead the acquisition of 20+ wild caught flounder, including the species southern, gulf, and the summer flounder caught locally for the lab to carry out procedures on. I will also be involved with animal husbandry as well as behavioral experiments for our graduate students. 


Email: csh5950@uncw.edu