Teisha King


B.S. Biological Sciences - University of Maryland Baltimore County - May 2016 

Background & Interest:

I started my PhD in the fall of 2016, as a student co-advised by Jeremy Brown and Karen Maruska. My interests are spread between phylogenetic comparative methods, physiological processes and neurobiology. I work with the cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni, which allows me to correlate behavior and physiological profiles with neurobiology. This highly social species utilize various behaviors in order obtain mates, rise in rank and maintain dominance over other fish.


Aggressive interaction between two male A. burtoni fish.

Current Research:

Specifically, I am interested in using phylogenetic comparative methods to investigate the influence of immunity genes on the diversification rates of cichlid species. The major histocompatibility complex genes are responsible for recognizing microbes and pathogens from the environment. My research focuses on determining if MHC genes played a role in the adaptive radiation of cichlids endemic to the Great Lakes of Africa (Lakes Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika), a center infamous for high diversification rates. This will help in understanding how environmental changes manifest into behavioral and physiological changes in species. I am also interested in the strengths of different phylogenetic comparative methods and their ability to correlate hypothesis with life histories.

Other Projects:

·      Using comparative methods to identify difference in bird song between different species of Catharus birds.

·      Identifying differences in immune responses of A. burtoni fish across social status and reproductive state.

·      Determining how an immune challenge affects male ability to perform social behaviors.

·      Understanding how mating behaviors performed by males are processed within different regions of the female brain.