Dr. Molly Jacobs

Dr. Molly Jacobs

Research Interests

Welcome to the Jacobs Lab at McDaniel College! I’m fascinated by the life histories of marine organisms, and particularly the ecology and development of marine invertebrate larvae. My work is driven by questions such as: How do larvae vary within and between species and populations? What are the consequences of those differences? Does larval behavior vary predictably within and between populations? In my lab, we address these questions using larvae of diverse organisms such as ascidians (sea squirts), lobsters, and more!

My summer research students usually come with me to a field station (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution or Friday Harbor Laboratories) for an intensive research experience; I also occasionally take on smaller lab-based student projects during the year. I encourage interested students to contact me directly.

Courses Taught

  • Marine Biology
  • Invertebrate Zoology
  • Larval Biology
  • Experimental Design
  • Principles of Biology
  • Recent Student Projects

Meredith Meyers (McDaniel College): Vertical Positioning Behavior in Larvae of the Lobster Homarus americanus

Emily Fair (McDaniel College): A Comparative Study of Invertebrate Communities Living Within Sponges From Indian River, DE

Miles Borgen (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution): Ontogenetic Changes in Small-Scale Hydrodynamics of Larval Lobster Swimming

Katherine Bianchi (Falmouth Academy): Do Juvenile Lobsters Learn the Locations of Shelters?

Skylar Bayer (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution): Effect of Larval and Postlarval Experience on Settlement and Shelter-Seeking Behaviors in the Lobster Homarus americanus.

Katherine Bianchi (Falmouth Academy): High Speed Video of Larval Lobster Escape Responses

Nida Shuttari (Boston University): Characterization of Swimming, Crawling, and Sheltering Behaviors during Postlarval Period of the Lobster Homarus americanus.

Vanessa Rubin (Brown University): Response of larval and postlarval lobsters to light and odor

Katherine Bianchi (Falmouth Academy): Response of postlarval and juvenile lobsters to sound

Jennifer Urban (University of Connecticut): Recovery of alkylphenolic contaminants from the hemolymph and tissues of the lobster Homarus americanus

Rumla Rizvi (University of Connecticut): Alklphenol contamination levels in food of the lobster Homarus americanus

Brad Dickerson (Swarthmore College): Delay of Metamorphosis in the Solitary Ascidians Boltenia villosa and Corella inflata


Jacobs, MW & KM Sherrard 2010. “Bigger is not Always Better: Offspring Size does not Predict Growth or Survival for Seven Ascidian Species” Ecology 91(12):3598-3608.

Jacobs, MW & RD Podolsky 2010. “Variety is the Spice of Life Histories: Comparison of Intraspecific Variability in Marine Invertebrates” Integrative and Comparative Biology 50(4):630-642.

Hart, MW, MW Jacobs, & RD Podolsky 2010 “Introduction to the Symposium: Larval Forms”, Integrative and Comparative Biology 50(4):536-538.

Jacobs, MW, H. Laufer, J. Stuart, M. Chen, & X. Pan 2009. “Alkylphenols and Lobsters in Long Island Sound: Patterns, Mechanisms, and Consequences.” 9th Biennial Long Island Sound Research Conference Proceedings 2008: 49-56.

Jacobs, MW, B.M. Degnan, J.D.D. Bishop, & R.R. Strathmann 2008. “Early Activation of Adult Organ Differentiation During Delay of Metamorphosis in Solitary Ascidians, and Consequences for Juvenile Growth.” Invertebrate Biology 127(2):217-236.

Jacobs, MW, SM Degnan, R Woods, E Williams, KE Roper, K Green, & BM Degnan 2006. “The effect of larval age on morphology and gene expression during ascidian metamorphosis” Integrative and Comparative Biology 46(6):760-776.

Bishop, CD, DF Erezyilmaz, T Flatt, CD Georgiou, MG Hadfield, A Heyland, J Hodin, MW Jacobs, SA Maslakova, A Pires, AM Reitzel, S Santagata, K Tanaka, & JH Youson 2006. “What is Metamorphosis?” Integrative and Comparative Biology 46(6):655-661.

Arenas, F, JDD Bishop, JT Carlton, PJ Dyrynda, WF Farnham, DJ Gonzalez, MW Jacobs, C Lambert, G Lambert, SE Nielsen, JA Pederson, JS Porter, S Ward, & CA Wood 2006. “Alien species and other notable records from a rapid assessment survey of marinas on the south coast of England” Journal of the Marine Biological Assn UK 86:1329-1337.

Swalla, BJ, MW Jacobs, & L. Zheng 2006. “Coloniality has evolved once in Stolidobranch Ascidians” Integrative and Comparative Biology 46(3):255-268

Davidson, B, MW Jacobs, & BJ Swalla 2004. “The Individual as a Module: Solitary/ Colonial Transitions in Metazoan Evolution and Development” in Modularity in Development and Evolution, Schlosser & Wagner, eds. U. Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

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