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Ecology, evolution, paleontology, and biomimetics of marine invertebrates

My research focuses on a wide array of themes within the realm of marine biology. Individual projects ranging from non-applied studies devoted to empirical and theoretical ecology to more applied and societally relevant projects in conservation biology and biomimetics. Collaborative interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches also allow the unique opportunity to investigate old questions via new cutting-edge technology.

Marine ecology centers on the importance of infaunal echinoids as ecosystem engineers in soft bottom habitats. Research on the development, maintenance, and health of soft sediment habitats is an emerging field in regions that are ecologically and economically heavily dependent on a functional ecosystem such as the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, and Caribbean Sea.

Evolutionary biology is primarily represented by studies on the long-term data of predator-prey interactions in marine ecosystems. This research is based on modern environments, but also include comparative data from the fossil record. By comparing data from modern ecosystems to the youngest fossil record (Holocene), information about the most recent evolutionary pathways can be acquired. Those data provide an essential complement to high-temporal resolution observations in modern ecosystems. Evolutionary biological research that includes paleoecological data represents a vital conceptual bridge between evolutionary biology and marine ecology.

Taphonomy offers a critical aid in evaluating the quality of deceased specimens as well as samples from the fossil record. This research branch is rapidly emerging as an integral component of modern comparative biology and paleontology, not only by providing rigorous ways for evaluating the quality of data provided, but also by offering unique insights into the history of organisms after life. My empirical studies focus on the preservation of marine invertebrates and their short-term and long-term taphonomic biases. My research especially centers on taphonomic alterations and filters on deceased organisms including potential predatory traces they carry.

Biomimetic research and technical biology focus on evolutionary optimized biological structures. Such structures are of high interest for engineers, architects, and designers. Technical analyses of natural structures are used to identify and understand working principles with the option to transfer promising findings in design, civil-engineering, or medical products. This approach also provides insight into the functional morphology of their role model and the potential understanding of evolutionary pathways of marine organisms.



Predation is a major biotic interaction by which the predator can leave recognizable traces in the skeletal hard parts of the prey item. By tracking predatory patterns and behavior through time, shifts of these parameters are used to interpret evolutionary pathways.

Functional morphology

Functional morphology describes the adaptation of organisms to their environment. These adaptations are often the result of pressure such as biotic interactions and abiotic influences. Engineering techniques, such as structural mechanics are used to understand structural adaptations.


Taphonomy examines the alteration of organisms and their remains after the death of an individual, as well as alterations of biotic traces. Understanding taphonomic patterns, signals and filters are used to interpret ancient environments based on biotic remains and traces recovered from the fossil sedimentary record.

Computational analytics

Computational analytics promote calculations of large data sets and their visualization. Especiallt analyses and visualizations of 3d models are useful methods to understand the integration of structures.



Biomimetics is an integrative approach combining biology and engineering sciences. Evolved biological structures often provide solutions for today's technical challenges. Finding principles in organisms that improve or lead to the development of new technical systems is the aim of biomimetics.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality provides a platform that allows the analyses and presentation of 3d data in an 360° immersive environment.