Current members


Current members of the scorpion lab.

Dr. Doug Gaffin
DougI lead this wonderful group of scientists. My interest in scorpions goes back to my time under the scorpion biologist Dr. Phillip Brownell at Oregon State University, where I did my PhD. I am particularly interested in the chemosensory organs called pectines on the bottom of all scorpions. This work stems from my longstanding questions about navigation in bees, scorpions, and other other invertebrates. I currently serve as Interim Dean of the Honors College. When I am not in the lab or office, I love to play volleyball, play the banjo, and spend time with my wife, Dr. Marielle Hoefnagels. Contact me at ddgaffin [at] ou.edu. Curriculum vita.
Alby Musaelian
AlbyAlby is a graduating honors mathematics student. His work in the lab focuses on developing computer simulations of the navigation by chemo-textural familiarity hypothesis, focusing on the scorpion's pectines. He presented his ongoing research at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Day and won a grand prize in the biology section. He will be pursuing a PhD in Applied Math at Harvard University in the Fall.
Safra Shakir
SafraSafra is completing her sophomore year at OU. She is an honors student and biology major, and she is considering doing medicine. Safra’s research involves using electrophysiological techniques to understand synaptic interactions between the cells in the peg sensilla on ground-directed chemosensory organs on scorpions called pectines. Safra participated in URD 2020, and on the weekend volunteers at a clinic. Safra enjoys drawing and reading and spending time at home with her family.
Tanner Ortery
Tanner maintains the lab's collection of arachnids. He also volunteers at the SNOMNH Department of Herpetology and works in Dr. Michael Kaspari's ant lab. When he's not in the lab or in class, he enjoys caring for his own personal collection of amphibians and tropical plants. Tanner is about to graduate with his biology degree and will start physical therapy school at the OU HSC this summer.
Jacob Sims
JacobJacob is a second year honors student from Boston, MA. He is majoring in Physics and working on minors in Mathematics and Anthropology. He is studying how scorpion behavior relates to their fluorescence under UV light, especially under natural conditions. He also works in Dr. Grant Biedermann's lab in the Physics department, researching quantum information systems using the interactions between ultra-cold Rydberg atoms. When not in the lab, he enjoys backpacking, playing the guitar, and reading.
Drew Doak
Drew is a graduating honors student from Denver, Colorado pursuing a planned program degree with a focus in medicine as well as a minor in Chinese. He is planning on attending Physician Assistant school after a gap year gaining medical experience. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and playing guitar. Drew is a participant in this year’s online version of Undergraduate Research Day, his research is focused on the possibility that scorpions use path integration during home burrow navigation.