Suzanne M. Peyer, PhD

Credentials: Research Scientist, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington
Honorary Fellow, Dept. of Integrative Biology, College of Letters and Science, UW Madison


Keywords: Cell death, tissue remodeling, whole-organism morphology, species distributions, computer vision, visual systems

BS, MS in Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
PhD in Biology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Research Interests:
Suzanne’s interests are shaped by her freedom at an early age to explore the nooks and crannies of the natural world and their inhabitants. Her research explores the diversity of forms in nature, the laws that govern their formation, and the environmental stimuli that elicit functional responses. Traversing the hierarchy of biological organization, her work includes studies of cell death, functional whole-organism morphology, and species distributions across landscapes.  In each area she uses computer vision to quantify emergent patterns that have applications in ecology, evolution, or medicine. She also studies the visual systems themselves, most recently concentrating on a peculiar eye-like organ in the Hawaiian bobtail squid with tissues that perceive and respond to the light produced by its bioluminescent symbiont. Such research offers insights into the functioning of the eye in response to infection and light, two potent stressors. Focused on early development of the symbiotic organ, she is particularly intrigued by microbe-induced cell death and tissue remodeling.  This work has also nurtured an interest in the dazzling array of eyes across the animal kingdom and their evolution, from simple and primitive to elaborate and derived.


Photo credit: Jennifer Claire Watkins