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Scott Santagata

Scott Santagata

Associate Professor of BiologyGraduate Adviser, Biology Department

B.S., University of Rhode IslandM.S., American UniversityPh.D., University of Southern California


Overall, I consider myself an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in the development, evolution and ecology of aquatic invertebrates. Some of my research focuses on marine invertebrate larvae because their diverse forms serve as unique models for understanding the evolutionary and ecological relationships among multicellular animals. I am especially interested in morphological and developmental studies on phyla with enigmatic evolutionary origins such as phoronids, brachiopods and bryozoans. These phyla are intriguing due to their extraordinarily divergent morphological traits as compared to other related lophotrochozoan phyla such as annelids and mollusks. Publications resulting from this work have covered a variety of topics such as reproductive biology, neuromuscular anatomy, biogeography, phylogeny and metamorphosis. Currently, my laboratory is studying the expression of evolutionarily conserved transcription factors involved in the development of the nervous system of invertebrate animals. 


Developmental Biology, Invertebrate Zoology, Molecular Phylogenetics, Invasive Species


  • Co-author, “Phoronid phylogenetics (Brachiopoda; Phoronata): evidence from morphological cladistics, small and large subunit rDNA sequences, and mitochondrial cox1,” published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society
  • Author, “The Phoronida of the Gulf of Mexico,” published in “Gulf of Mexico--Origins, Waters, and Biota”
  • Lead and Corresponding Author, “The Brachiopoda of the Gulf of Mexico,” published in “Gulf of Mexico--Origins, Waters, and Biota” (2009)
  • Lead and Corresponding Author, “Concentrated sodium chloride brine solutions as an additional treatment for preventing the introduction of non-indigenous species in the ballast tanks of ships declaring No Ballast On Board,” published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (2009)
  • Author, “Evolutionary and structural diversification of the larval nervous system among marine bryozoans, published in Biological Bulletin (2008)
  • Lead and Corresponding Author, “Effect of osmotic shock as a management strategy to reduce transfers of nonindigenous species among low-salinity ports by ships,” published in Aquatic Invasions (2008)
  • Author, “The morphology and evolutionary significance of the ciliary fields and musculature among marine bryozoan larvae,” published in the Journal of Morphology (2008)
  • Co-author, “Characterization of source invertebrate populations and assessing salinity toxicity as a barrier to prevent transfers of high risk species to the Great Lakes in ballast tanks,” published in the final report for the project “Identifying, verifying, and establishing options for best management practices for NOBOB Vessels,” submitted to The Great Lakes Protection Fund by Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (2007)
  • Contributing Author, “What is metamorphosis?” published in Integrative and Comparative Biology (2006)
  • Author, “A waterborne behavioral cue for the actinotroch larvae of Phoronis pallida (Phoronida) produced by Upogebia pugettensis (Decapoda: Thalassinidea),” published in Biological Bulletin (2004)
  • Author, “The larval development of Phoronis pallida (Phoronida): implications for morphological convergence and divergence among larval body plans,” published in the Journal of Morphology (2004)
  • Author, “Structure and metamorphic remodeling of the larval nervous system and musculature of Phoronis pallida (Phoronida),” published in Evolution & Development (2002)
  • Lead and Corresponding Author, “Comparison of the neuromuscular systems among actinotroch larvae: systematic and evolutionary implications,” published in Evolution & Development (2002)
  • Lead and Corresponding Author, “Comparing cell patterns of coronate bryozoan larvae with fluorescent probes,” published in the Proceedings of the 11th International Bryozoology Association Conference (2000)
  • Co-author, “The origin of brooding in the Cheilostomata: Interpretive morphology of Scrupocellaria ferox,” published in Invertebrate Biology (1996)
  • Co-author, “A checklist of the cheilostome Bryozoa found at Chuuck, Micronesia,” published in Micronesia (1996)
  • Contributing author, “A setigerous collar in Membranipora chesapeakensis n.sp. (Bryozoa) - Implications for the evolution of cheilostomes from ctenostomes,” published in Invertebrate Biology (1995)


  • Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution (10/08-10/11)
    (Proposed research will be conducted at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce, Fla.)
  • Member, Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology