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Dr. Michael Andrew Jansen



My research is currently focused on two lines of inquiry related to major functional and morphological transitions between insect mouthpart classes, and particularly the way that cuticle composition has influenced these transitions. First, I am interested in the mechanical behavior of the cuticle in the maxillary lacineae of Psocoptera during feeding. These structures have long been hypothesized to occupy an intermediate stage between chewing and piercing-sucking modalities, and better understanding their functionality may yield new and interesting insights in the evolution of haustellate mouthparts. A second project involves the functional and morphological diversity of mouthparts and head shapes in Polyneoptera, where I am investigating the role of the cuticle composition of the head capsule with respect to mechanotransduction of muscular tension to the mouthparts. I believe that the distribution of microstructural gradients in the cuticle may significantly impact how the head is able to support the action of the muscles, and quantifying these interactions may help us understand the co-evolution of head and mouthpart shape in a functional context.



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