University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

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Contact Info

University of Michigan
Museum of Zoology
1109 Geddes Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

1031 Ruthven

(734) 764-2358


Thomas Duda

Associate Professor and Associate Curator

Field of Study

Evolutionary biology of molluscs

Adademic Background

Tom Duda received his BS from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 1988 and his MA from San Francisco State University in 1992. He began his PhD studies at the University of Hawaii in 1993 and ultimately received his PhD from Harvard University in 1999. From 1999-2002 he was a Tupper Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panamá and from 2002-2003 was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Washington. He currently is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and an Assistant Curator of Molluscs in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Since 2004 he has also maintained a formal scholarly affiliation with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute as a Research Associate.

Research Interests

I am interested in deciphering the evolutionary history and origins of adaptations in molluscs. This work encompasses the integration of information from ecology, morphology, molecular evolutionary genetics, paleontology and phylogenetics. My research focuses on members of the gastropod genus Conus, one of the most diverse genera of tropical marine molluscs that show a number of feeding specializations. Molecular phylogenies permit the examination of the evolution of a diversity of traits including life history, morphology and feeding mode. These phylogenies also show what influenced the diversification and distributional patterns of this group. I also investigate the molecular evolution of conotoxin genes, genes that encode peptide neurotoxins that are used to stun prey. These genes are members of large gene families, evolve quite rapidly and are presumably related to feeding specializations.

Graduate Students

Dan Chang, Samantha Flowers, Alexandria Moore, Semoya Phillips, Paula Teichholtz