Douglas L Crawford


(305) 421-4121
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Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology - Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science

My academic interests are to understand the basic properties of adaptation (e.g., the importance of standing genetic variation, are many of loci involved in adaptation, are there conserved pathways to resolve specific selective pressures,etc.).  Knowing this information provides insights into human health and diseases and how organisms will respond to global climate change.  Two important aspects of studying adaptation include research and teaching.  Both are valuable, and both require time and intellectual investment.


1980B.A. Zoology, University of Washington
1983M.S. Physiology, University of Kansas
1989Ph.D. , Johns Hopkins University
1991Post Doctoral , Stanford University
The research in my laboratory investigates the functional importance of natural variation; specifically the variation in gene expression,the molecular mechanisms that affect the variation in expression and the physiological consequences of this variation. To better understand the biological importance of this variation, my researchgroup integrates different levels of biological understanding: genes, genomics, gene expression, enzyme function, and physiology. These analyses are strengthened by evolutionary analyses to distinguish random neutral variation from variation due to natural selection. It is this combination of approaches, evolutionary biology with physiological genomics, that is my laboratory’s strength. 

To better understand the biological importance of gene expression, we have developed Functional Genomics tools for the teleost fish Fundulus. These tools include greater than 74,000 EST which form 12,000 unique Fundulus cDNAs for microarray studies, bioinformatics to annotate and investigate these genes, and statistical capabilities to analyze large microarray datasets. Utilizing these tools we are investigating the relationship between how changes in mRNAs relate to changes in protein concentration, physiological performance, ecological setting and evolutionary divergence. This broad approach requires a diversity of research methods and critical thought, and it is now providing important insights into the causes and consequences of phenotypic variation. For example, our recent microarray studies demonstrate: 1) that patterns of gene expression explain the significant variation in cardiac performance; 2) the genes that contribute to the differences in cardiac metabolism (i.e., functionally important genes) vary among individuals and 3) that much of the variation in gene expression is evolving by natural selection. These data sets suggest that much of the variation in gene expression is biologically important, but the relationship between gene expression and biological function is complex. 

Using evolution to understand molecular physiology and using molecular traits to investigate evolutionary processes is the foundation of my research. We pursue these goals to better understand individual variation, the biological importance of this variation and human health and disease.