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Post-Doc Projects

Our post-docs explore a number of topics including sexual selection, visual ecology, endocrinology, gene expression, and molecular biology. If you are interested in seeking a post-doctoral position within our lab, please contact Dr. Cummings.

Mary RamseyMary Ramsey

My Interests:

I am interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying behavioral and developmental processes. The swordtails (Xiphophorus) are a classic female mate choice system where females prefer large, courting class males over smaller, non-courting males. I am interested in using behavioral genomics to identify the underlying gene networks that are the foundation for preference behavior.   I am also interested in elucidating the neural pathways of preference from those underlying receptivity.  Unlike rodent model systems, preference behavior in X. nigrensis females appears to be uncoupled from physiological receptivity, allowing insights into the mechanisms of affiliative behavior in species where the expression of preference behavior is not hormone-dependent


2007 Ph.D. University of Texas Austin
1987 B.A. Texas A&M University


Ramsey, ME, Vu, W & Cummings, ME 2014. Testing synaptic plasticity in dynamic mate choice decisions: N-methyl d-aspartate receptor blockade disrupts female preference. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 281: 20140047. [PDF]

Wang, SMT, Ramsey, ME & Cummings, ME 2014. Plasticity of the mate choice mind: coutship evokes choice-like brain responses in females from a coercive mating system. Genes, Brain & Behavior 13: 365-375. [PDF]

Ramsey ME, Maginnis TL, Wong RY, Brock C, Cummings ME. 2012. Identifying context-specific gene profiles of social, reproductive and mate preference behavior in a fish species with female mate choice. Frontiers in Neurogenomics (click for link to paper).

Lynch KS, Ramsey M, Cummings ME. 2012. The mate choice brain: comparing gene profiles between female choice and male coercive poeciliids. Genes, Brain and Behavior 11:222-229. [PDF]

Wong RY, Ramsey ME, Cummings ME 2012. Localizing brain regions associated with female mate preference behavior in a swordtail. PLoS ONE 7(11) e50355. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050355 (click for link to paper).

Ramsey M, Wong RY, Cummings ME. 2011. Estradiol, reproductive cycle and preference behavior in a northern swordtail. General and Comparative Endocrinology 170:381-390. [PDF]

Cummings ME, Larkins-Ford J, Reilly CRL, Wong R, Ramsey M, Hofmann HA. 2008. Sexual and social stimuli elicit rapid and contrasting genomic responses. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 275:393-402. [PDF]

Ramsey M, Crews D. 2009. Steroid Signaling and Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination – Reviewing the Evidence for Early Action of Estrogen during Ovarian Determination in Turtles. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 20(3):283-298.

Ramsey M, Shoemaker C, Crews D. 2007. Gonadal expression of SF1 and aromatase during sex determination in the red-eared slider turtle, (Trachemys scripta), a reptile with temperature-dependent sex determination. Differentiation 75(10):978-991.

Ramsey M, Crews D. 2007. Steroid signaling system responds differently to temperature and hormone manipulation in the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans), a reptile with temperature-dependent sex determination. Sexual Development 1:181-196.

Ramsey M, Crews D. 2007. Adrenal-kidney-gonad complex measurements may not predict gonad-specific changes in gene expression patterns during temperature-dependent sex determination in the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A 307:463-470.

Shoemaker C, Ramsey M, Crews D. 2007. Expression of Sox9, Mis and Dmrt1 in the gonad of a species with temperature-dependent sex determination. Developmental Dynamics 236:1055-1063.

Matthews R, Domjan M, Ramsey M, Crews D. 2007. Learning effects on sperm competition and reproductive fitness. Psychological Science 18:758-762.

Parrish BradyParrish Brady

My Interests:

I am interested in the interplay between optics and ecological processes. These optical phenomena span from the lens maker’s formula used in our own eyes to complicated photonics in weevil and scarab cuticles to Rayleigh and Mie scattering in the earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Specifically, I am interested in the role of polarized light in visual communication and camouflage among animals in various environments. Using marine fish, I am investigating how mirror-like silvery fish have adapted to be camouflaged in the highly nonuniform polarization environment of the open ocean. I also study the role of circular polarized reflectance in scarab beetles. Some scarab beetles chromatically blend with their background, but conspicuously produce a highly circularly polarized reflection. If these scarabs can detect circularly polarized light, then they could visually detect conspecifics while simultaneously hiding from predators. To analyze polarization signals and environments, I have built a video polarimeter with pi cells and microcontrollers and am interested in incorporating microcontrollers and other technology in field research; if you vote for me all your wildest dreams will come true.


2008 Ph.D. Physics, University of Texas at Austin
2000 B.S. Physics and Mathematics, University of Utah


Zhao, S., Brady, P., Gao, M., Etheredge, R.I., Kattawar, G.W., Cummings, M.E.. 2015. Broadband and polarization reflectors in the lookdown, Selene vomer. J. R. Soc. Interface 12: 20141390. [PDF]

Brady P, Travis K, Maginnis T & Cummings ME. 2013. The polaro-cryptic mirror: a biological adaptation for open-ocean camouflage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 9764-9769. [PDF]

Brady PC, Cummings ME. 2010. A jewel's true colours. Nature 464:468 (Reseach Highlights) doi:10.1038/464468a.

Brady PC, Cummings ME. 2010. Differential response to circularly polarized light by the jewel scarab beetle Chrysina gloriosa. American Naturalist 175(5):614-620. [PDF]

Zakharov YP, Ponomarenko AG, Vchivkov KV, Horton W, Brady PC. 2009. Laser-plasma simulations of artificial magnetosphere formed by giant coronal mass ejections. Astrophysics and Space Science 322:151-154.

Brady PC , Mays L, Horton W, Ditmire T. 2009. Laboratory experiments simulating solar wind driven magnetospheres. Physics of Plasmas 16:043112; doi: 10.1063/1.3085786

Seago AE, Brady PC, Vigneron JP, Schultz TD. 2009. Gold bugs and beyond: a review of iridescence and structural colour mechanisms in beetles (Coleoptera). Journal of The Royal Society Interface 6:S165-S187.