Phillip Davidson

email:                  twitter@PhilDavidson website:

I am a third year graduate student in the Department of Biology and Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program at Duke. As an undergraduate I studied biology and marine science at the University of Miami and worked in the Browne Lab researching the evolution and development of ctenophores. As a graduate student I am most interested in the genetic, developmental, and ecological drivers of  organismal diversity, especially the consequences of changes in gene regulation on organismal adaptation and development.

In the lab, I take comparative developmental and genomic approaches to studying the evolution a major life history switch in the sea urchin genus Heliocidaris from indirect, planktotrophic (feeding) to direct, lecithotrophic (non-feeding) larval development.

My primary projects include:

  1. Cis-regulatory evolution associated with direct larval development and altered embryonic cell fate specification in H. erythrogramma.
  2. Metabolic modifications driving developmental life history evolution in sea urchins using lipidomic and proteomic mass spectrometry.
  3. Effect of global climate change and ocean acidification on marine invertebrate development.

I am also collaborating on other research projects including:

  1. Developmental transcriptomics of the direct developing sea star Parvulastra exigua. 
  2. Comparative genomics of H. erythrogrammaH. tuberculata, and Lytechinus variegatus, another indirect developing planktotrohpic sea urchin species.
  3. Comparative single cell RNA-sequencing during embryogenesis in H. erythrogramma and L. variegatus.