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Jenn Dearolf

2001- 2002 CEIRP Fellow

Research Interest: Marine Mammals

Department: Biomedical Sciences

Field: Zoology

I have a longstanding interest in mammal biology, specifically how mammals, both neonates and adults, interact with their environment. This interest has led me to study muscles, the actuators of movement, because movement is one of the main ways that mammals engage their environment. Muscles are an interesting tissue to work with and can be a starting place for discussions about cellular respiration, pH, acid buffering, enzyme function, and exercise, for example.

I chose to study muscles in marine mammals because their aquatic lifestyle presents unique challenges for muscle function. Thus, I also have an interest in oceans and especially the effects of pollution on mammalian systems. My research focuses on the breathing muscles of bottlenose dolphins and Florida manatees.

Although these animals are mammals, their breathing is characterized by explosive exhalation-inhalation coupled with periods of breath-hold. I am working to identify and characterize the muscles responsible for the unique breathing behaviors seen in these animals. I am also studying the development of the diaphragm muscle in bottlenose dolphins, and this study has led to a better understanding of muscle development in neonates that are considered precocial ("adult-like") when they are born.



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