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Prof. Lori LaPlante Research

LaPlante LaboratoryProf. Lori LaPlante Scuba Diving

Students in my lab have general interests in animal behavior, marine ecology, and/or conservation. Current research in my lab examines major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-based mate choice in Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), a freshwater sunfish. We are using a variety of molecular and field techniques to assess whether female Pumpkinseed prefer males having MHC genes that would, when combined with her own genes, produce offspring with enhanced immune response against infectious pathogens and diseases. Molecular techniques frequently learned in the laboratory include isolation of genomic DNA, primer design, PCR amplification, ligation, transformation, plasmid preparation, and analysis of sequence data. Field techniques employed during summer months include fish collection and processing, animal husbandry, and running mate choice trials in a flow chamber.

Directed Research Projects

As a student in my lab, you would have the option of working on 1) an active research project or 2) a proposed research project (see below).

Active Research Projects in Prof. LaPlante's Lab

  • MHC-based mate choice in Pumpkinseed sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus
  • Seasonality of male mate choice in Pumpkinseed sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus
  • Various observational projects at the Stone Zoo in Massachussetts (you would need to provide your own transportation to the Stone Zoo)
  • Vocal communication in the wood turtle (with Dr. Wicklow)

Proposed Research Projects
Students may propose their own research projects as long as the project overlaps with some aspect of animal behavior, marine behavioral ecology, and/or conservation. Potential projects include mating behavior of sunfish, Betta splendens, and various options for research on zoo animals.

2014 Research Students

Bristol and Fandunyan 2014

Karolyn Bristol (Biology, '15): Currently training dogs for the Iditarod
Eugenia Fandunyan (Biology, '16):

Research Project: "MHC-based mate choice in Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)"
Project funded by INBRE

 2012 Research Students


Taylor O'Donnell (Natural Sciences, '13)

Senior research project: "The influence of female size and nest status on male mate choice in Pumpkinseed".

2011 Research Students

Kelsey at Kimball Pond

Kelsey Dakoulas (Natural Sciences,'12)

Senior Research Project: "Plethodon cinereus chemodection structures vary dorsoventrally and seasonally"


Sara Sterling (Environmental Sciences '12)

Currently researching mating preferences of female Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

 2010 Research Students

Jeffrey Czaplinski '10

Jeffrey Czaplinski (Biology,'10)

Senior Research Project: "Plethodon cinereus chemodection structures vary dorsoventrally and seasonally"
(Conducted research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute; currently enrolled in Boston University's MS in Medical Sciences Program)

Jodi Desroches '10, Chemistry

Jodi Desroches (Chemistry '10)

Erin Forbes '10

Dr. Erin Forbes, DVM (Biology, '10)

Senior Research Project (with Weathers): "Male striped salamanders prefer female striped salamanders"
Currently a veterinarian at Mountain View Animal Hospital (VT)

Colleen Weathers '10

Colleen Weathers (Natural Sciences, '10)

Senior Research Project (with Forbes): "Male striped salamanders prefer female striped salamanders"

Currently working as a research assistant at the Audobon in Florida.

  2009 Research Students

Soleil Bacque '09

Dr. Soleil Bacque, DVM (Biology, '09)

Currently a veterinarian at Crossroads Veterinary Clinic (NY)

John Gould '09 John Gould (Biology, '09)
Jamie Panunzio '09

Jamie (Panunzio) O'Brien (Biology '09)

Recently completed two masters degrees (MSES, MPA) at Indiana University

Christie Usher '09

Christie Usher (Environmental Science, '09)

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