Webb Lab People

Jacqueline F. Webb, Ph.D.



George and Barbara Young Chair in Biology
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
University of Rhode Island
120 Flagg Road, CBLS 293
Kingston, RI  02881
Phone: (401) 874-2609
E-mail: jacqueline_webb “at” uri.edu





  • Coordinator, URI Marine Biology Program (2006-Pres.)
  • Finalist, URI Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching (2019)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Morphology, Copeia, Environmental Biology of Fishes, Biological Bulletin
  • Member, Board of Trustees, SEA Education Association (Woods Hole, MA)
  • Whitman Investigator (2012), Whitman Fellow (2013) and Whitman Associate (2014 – Pres.), Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole 
  • Research Associate, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard Univ. (2009-Pres.)
  • Guest Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (2003-Pres.)
  • Research Associate, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1993-Pres.)
  • Recent article in URI’s Momentum Magazine – Click HERE.


Aubree Jones,
MS Student, 2018-Pres. (BS, Texas A & M University, 2017). NSF Graduate Research Fellow (2019-2022). Also funded by URI Teaching Assistantship and URI Graduate School EGRA. See Aubree’s CELS/URI Big Thinker Profile







Dr. Yinan Hu, Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2015-2017. (PhD. UMass Amherst, Lab of Dr. Craig Albertson) – Sensory ontogeny in a coral reef goby. Funded by NSF grant to JFW. [now post-doc in McMenamin Lab, Boston College]




Nathan Bird


Dr. Nathan Bird, Post-Doc, 2012-2014 (PhD, George Washington University) – Heterochrony and modularity in the lateral line system of cichlid fishes. [now Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Northern Iowa; http://www.uni.edu/biology/dr-nathan-bird]




Dr. Daniel Bassett, Post-Doc, 2007-2008 (PhD, University of Auckland, New Zealand, Lab of Dr. John Montgomery). Lateral line mediated feeding behavior in a Lake Malawi cichlid. [Now in industry in New Zealand]

Graduate Students




Katie Nickles, MS 2019 (BS, University of Rhode Island, 2016)  “Ontogeny of the Lateral Line and Visual Systems in a Coral Reef Goby, Elacatinus lori”. Funded by URI Teaching Assistantship and NSF Grant to JFW.





Julia Johnstone, MS 2017 (BS, Smith College)  “Investigating Lateral Line Canal Morphogenesis as a Bone Remodeling Process in Two Lake Malawi Cichlids”. funded by Graduate Administrative Assistantship. [Now PhD student at Darling Marine Center, U. Maine]






Ashley Marranzino, MS 2016 (BS, Regis University), NSF Graduate Research Fellow – “Flow Sensing in the Deep Sea: The Lateral Line System of Deep Sea Fishes in the Order Stomiiformes”. (Zool. J. Linn. Soc. – https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx090). Winner, 2016 Stoye Award (Best student paper presentation) in Genetics, Development and Morphology awarded by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Awarded Lerner-Gray Marine Research Grant [2014, American Museum of Natural History],  [Will be starting PhD at Nova Southeastern University [with Dr. Tracey Sutton]; had been lecturer at Armstrong State Univ., Georgia]





Lauren Carter, MS 2014 (BS, University of Rhode Island) – Development of the lateral line canal pores in two species of cichlid fishes. [working for Sea Grant, Baton Rouge, LA]








Dr. Margot A. Bergstrom Schwalbe, PhD 2013 (MS, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Lab of Dr. Allen Mensinger)  – Dissertation: “The role of flow sensing by the mechanosensory lateral line system in prey detection behavior of two species of Lake Malawi cichlid fishes”. [Fall 2018 – Assistant Professor of Biology, Lake Forest College (IL);  post-doc at Tufts University (Tytell lab)]



Emily A Becker, MS 2013 (BS, University of Rhode Island) – Distribution and ontogeny of neuromast receptor organic and a comparison of methods for chemical ablation of the lateral line system in two cichlid fishes. [Now back in Rhode Island; Had worked as Aquaculture Manager at Armstrong State Univ. and at a commercial fish farm in MD;  Ass’t Director, Zebrafish Facility, Duke University Medical Center]

Insley Haciski, MS 2010 (BS, Dickinson College) – Developmental morphology of the lateral line system in the little skate, Leucoraja erinacea.

Margaret (Molly) Moore, MS 2006 (Villanova Univ.) (BS, University of Georgia). Osteoclast activity in the morphogenesis and growth of the lateral line canals in zebrafish. [taught HS for several years; graduated from UPenn School of Nursing, now a Registered Nurse]



Christopher Woods, MS 2006 (Villanova Univ.) (BSc, University of Portsmouth, UK). Functional morphology and acoustic properties of the swim bladder of butterflyfishes. [Clinical Study Manager at Glaxo Smith-Kline in UK]




J. Lucas Herman, MS 2005 (Villanova Univ.) (B.A., Franklin & Marshall College). Morphology of the ear of butterflyfishes.



Dr. W. Leo SmithMS 2003 (Villanova Univ.) (B.S. University of California, San Diego). Comparative morphology and evolution of the laterophysic connection in butterflyfishes.  [Ph.D. Columbia University/American Museum of Natural History; Assistant Curator of Fishes, Field Museum (Chicago); Now Associate Professor and Curator of Fishes, University of Kansas; http://www.fishphylogeny.com]



Melissa Tarby Wasko, MS 1998 (Villanova Univ.) (B.S., Villanova University). Morphogenesis of the lateral line canals in the cranial dermal bones of the cichlid, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus. [now a Registered Nurse]



Dr. Angela Wonsettler RidgelMS 1996 (Villanova Univ.)  (B.A., College of William and Mary). Morphology and development of the mechanosensory lateral line system of the trunk of hexagrammid fishes. [now Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology, Kent State University; publications]  See her TEDxKentState Talk – “Exercise is Brain Food” here.


Selected Undergraduate Researchers (see Research Project Pages for more information)

libby for website


Elizabeth (Libby) Molnar, BS Marine Biology, URI (2019) “Elaborations of the Lateral Line System in Tetras (Family Characiformes)”. Funded by NSF Grant to JFW, 2018 URI/CELS Coastal Fellowship and a Provost’s Office Undergraduate Research Grant.






Dr. Christopher Holland, BS in Animal Science, Minor in Marine Biology, URI (2013) – sound production and aggression-related color changes in cichlids [Post-doc at Oregon State Univ., did PhD. in Animal Behavior at Texas A&M, 2018]




Timothy Alberg, BS in Biomedical Engineering, URI (2011) – µCT imaging of fishes [now working as a biomedical engineer]







Melissa Hardy (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Comparative development of the lateral line system in Lake Malawi cichlids, and histological analysis of Chaetodon ear development.






Morgan Falk (BS, Villanova Univ.) –  Comparative development of the lateral line system in Lake Malawi cichlids.




Ryan M. Walsh, MD (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Senior Thesis – Development of the ear in the spotfin butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellatus. (See Webb et al., 2012, Environmental Biology of Fishes) [now a physician in the US Army]




Sandra Castelli, MD  (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Light organ structure and systematics of leiognathid fishes, and morphology of the laterophysic connection in butterflyfishes. [now Attending Physician, Internal Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens]

Briana DiSilvio (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Neuromast and tooth diversity in mesopelagic fishes.



Jonathan Shirey, MD (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Honors Thesis – Post-embryonic development of the lateral line canals in the zebrafish, Danio rerio (see Webb and Shirey, 2003, Developmental Dynamics) [now an MD (anesthesiology) in Hershey, PA]





Nancy LaVine, MD (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Honors Thesis – Development of the olfactory organs in the whitespotted greenling, Hexagrammos stelleri. [now an MD]

Dhira Khosla, MD (BS, Villanova Univ.) – Honors Thesis – Scale meristics and neuromast distribution in the lateral line system of teleost fishes. [now an MD]