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Dr. Darwin D. Jorgensen

Thornhill Professor

Department: Biology
Office: 411A Life Science



B.S., Iowa State University-Ames; M.S., University of South Carolina; Ph.D., Iowa State University. 1992

Research & Teaching Interests

Comparative Physiology, Invertebrate Biology

Statement of Research Interests

My research centers around a consideration of problems related to circulatory and respiratory function in a variety of different animals. At present, I am interested primarily in certain arthropods (lobsters and crabs) and molluscs (abalones). The general term that describes the kind of work I do is comparative physiology. As the term implies, I am interested in comparing how different kinds of animals solve similar physiological problems. The primary goal is to gain a better understanding of how these animals work. But I am also very much interested in relating the physiology of an animal to its natural habitat. In other words, what is it about how an animal works that allows it to live where it does? My research activities are confined primarily to my research laboratory but I spend a considerable amount of time in the field involved in such activities as collecting specimens to be used in laboratory experimentation, observing research animals in their natural habitat, and making measurements of physical parameters (e.g., temperature, salinity and dissolved gas levels) so that I may better understand the physical conditions experienced by research animals in their natural habitat.
Most recently, I have been studying cardiovascular and respiratory function in the American lobster, Homarus americanus and the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. My students and I have been investigating how these two physiological systems respond when these arthropods undergo graded exercise in the form of treadmill walking. In this work, we monitor a variety of physiological parameters (such as blood pressure and the extraction of oxygen from ventilatory water by the gills) before, during and after an exercise period. From this work, we hope to develop a picture of how the cardiovascular and respiratory systems work together in these representative arthropods to deliver oxygen to the tissues under stressful conditions.