Swalla,Billie J.

Professor
bjswalla@u.washington.edu
(206) 616-9367 (office)
(206) 616-9366 (lab)
Web site
KIN 238

Research Overview

We are studying how different animal body plans have evolved on the earth. We use a combination of evolutionary and developmental studies to investigate how a single fertilized egg develops a unique morphology, depending on the spatial and temporal expression of developmental genes. The main model systems used in my lab are ascidians and hemichordates, as our major research interest is the evolution of the chordates.

One part of my lab works on the molecular phylogeny of the deuterostomes in a effort to understand the phylogenetic relationships of the different deuterostome groups. We study the phylogeny of the tunicates and hemichordates. We are interested in the relationships of species within each phyla and how the phyla are related to each other. Our best guess about the phylogeny of the deuterostomes is shown in the figure on this page.

We are studying how coloniality has evolved several times in the deuterostomes, by studying the development of colonial ascidians and hemichordates (pterobranchs). One of my students is studying the development and potential of germ cells in colonial ascidians. Other students work on the developmental mechanisms underlying development and metamorphosis. We use a variety of research tools and approaches in an effort to understand the evolution of animal body plans, particularly the chordate body plan.


Biography

  • 2013 Interim Director, Friday Harbor Laboratories; University of Washington, Friday Harbor, WA
  • 2009 Professor; Biology Department, University of Washington; Seattle, WA
  • 2001-08 Associate Professor; Biology Department, University of Washington; Seattle, WA
  • 2006 Visiting Scientist, Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL
  • 1999 - 2000 Assistant Professor; Zoology Department, University of Washington; Seattle, WA
  • 1997 -99 Assistant Professor; Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University; University Park, PA
  • 1994-97 Assistant Professor; Biology Department, Vanderbilt University; Nashville, TN
  • 1991-94 Assistant Research Developmental Biologist; Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California - Davis; Bodega Bay, CA
  • 1989-92 NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow; Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California - Davis; Bodega Bay, CA; Lab of Dr. William R. Jeffery
  • 1988-89 AAUW Sarah Berliner Post-Doctoral Fellow; Center for Developmental Biology, University of Texas - Austin, TX; Lab of Dr. William R. Jeffery
  • 1988 Ph.D. - Biology Department, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - Laboratory of Dr. Michael Solursh - Thesis Title: The Effect of Extracellular Matrix on Chick Wing Bud Mesenchyme Chondrogenesis in vitro.
  • 1984-86 NIH Cellular and Molecular Biology Trainee, University of Iowa; Iowa City; IA
  • 1983, 1985, 1987 Summer Embryology Course, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Ma.
  • 1983 M.S. - Zoology Department, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - Thesis Title: Epithelial Enhancement of Connective Tissue Types in Explanted Somites
  • 1980 B.S. with Honors in Zoology , Botany minor, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA