Current members




Doug Gaffin

I am the fearless leader of this wonderful group of scientists. My interest in scorpionse01ab6_042f5f200fbb4ec694c0a1c94b192734 goes back to my time under the scorpion biologist Dr. Phillip Brownell at Oregon State University, where I did my PhD. Although I study all things scorpion, I am particularly interested in the peg sensilla and the navigation strategies of arthropods. I teach a large undergraduate zoology course which means I only mentor undergraduate students. When I am not in the lab I love to play volleyball.


Brad Brayfield

Research associate, lab manager and mentor to the undergraduates in the lab. I P1000737am working on the chemo-textural hypothesis of scorpion navigation and the navigation by scene familiarity hypothesis in robots. I have always been in awe of nature. I was the kid playing outside all the time, combing through
grass, water and under rocks for anything that I could find. I have lots of lab experience in cell and molecular biology, but I am also interested in translating this knowledge into larger animal systems and scorpion sensory biology is the perfect system to do so. When I am not in the lab I enjoy being with my kids, friends, hiking and playing and coaching soccer.



Conner Howardconnor_howard

Conner was just recently accepted into the Honors College and joined the lab in the fall of 2016. He is a junior Biology major with the hopes of attending medical school upon graduation. He has interests in becoming an orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine physician. He will be taking over on the Real-world tracker project from recent graduate Megan Mont which seeks to use the scene familiarity algorithm to navigate a push cart. He has previous experience in zoology and biology labs, and is also currently on the editorial review board for the OU-Journal of Introductory Biology (OUJIB). In his free time he enjoys playing or watching sports, watching movies, and being with friends.



Matthew Keyzerscreenshot_2016-05-13-17-39-56

Matt is a new undergraduate Honors student from Houston, Texas. He is a junior majoring in Spanish and Chemical Biosciences with a concentration in Pre-Medicine. Matt hopes to map the neural anatomy of the pectines in the desert grassland scorpion using neuro-specific tracers and immunofluorescence. Matt’s career goal is to become an Ophthalmologist. Outside of the lab, Matt likes to play the piano and guitar, read, play basketball, and generally spend time in the outdoors.



Max Danielsmax_daniels

Max is a chemical engineering major who began his work in the scorpion lab during Dr. Gaffin’s honors perspectives course, “Navigation in Bees, Ants and Scorpions” in the fall of 2015. This was his first scientific research experience. He is currently developing a method for testing the navigational mechanisms used by scorpions in a more controlled environment. He has an enduring love of both music and martial arts, and holds a black belt in the disciplines of karate, taekwondo, aikido, kenjutsu, and iaido.



Jonna Vanderslice

Jonna Vanderslice

Jonna is an undergraduate Honors student who joined us in the spring of 2017. She is majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology and Health and Exercise Science. She’s had previous experience in herpetology and biology labs, and is building on the work of Nina Rivera-Roldan in light sensory and the evolutionary advantage of fluorescence in scorpions. In her free time, she likes to run, eat ice cream, and spend time with friends.



Sara Kelley



Alex Evans 

Alex is a senior Honors student majoring in Microbiology and Minoring in Chemistry, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine.  He joined in Fall 2017 as an independent study student. He works with Brad on trying to motivate scorpions into and out of their burrows.  When he’s not in the lab or studying, Alex loves volunteering, hiking, or just being active. After graduation he plans on attending medical school and potentially becoming a trauma physician.

Sara Kelley


Tanner Ortery

Tanner Ortery is a sophomore undergraduate Biology major. He maintains the lab’s extensive collection of arachnids. He also currently volunteers at the SNOMNH Department of Herpetology. When he’s not in the lab or in class, he enjoys caring for his own personal collection of amphibians and tropical plants. Tanner plans to attend graduate school to study herpetology. tanner.