Skip to main

Katie Staab
  • Associate Professor of Biology

Katie Staab Headshot

I’m grateful to call McDaniel my home. I teach animal anatomy and physiology, focusing on how structure affects function. I learned anatomy in a human cadaver lab, prioritize dissection skills, and use MCAT practice questions on exams because the concepts are the same between humans and animals.

Students in my research lab ask questions about fish’s functional morphology using high-speed video to quantify movements, histological techniques (like in a pathology lab) to examine tissues, and gross dissections to understand how the complicated parts work as functional units.

Why fish? Our research is centered on bones, cartilage, and joints, and fish have more of all of these! During suction feeding, fish heads work like a turkey baster, with moveable bones expanding the head to draw the water (and hopefully food) into the mouth. How do fish do this? What types of tissues allow for this? Students present their Capstone research at national conferences.

As a first-generation college student who grew up in nearby York, PA, I can relate to the challenges of adjusting to life on campus. I prioritize training students HOW (not just WHAT) to learn with the hope that they leave the Hill destined for a lifetime of learning.


Ph.D., The George Washington University
B.S. in Biology, Mount Saint Mary's College

Research Interests

  • Physiology, development, and evolution of connective tissues (bone, cartilage, ligament, tendon) in fishes

  • Functional morphology and evolution of suction feeding

  • Conservation physiology of freshwater fishes

  • Evidence-based practices in teaching and learning anatomy and physiology

Recent Courses

  • BIO 3316: Animal Physiology

  • BIO 2202: Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates

  • FYS 1230: Tinkering with Discovery

Selected Publications

  • Staab, K.L., 2021. Implementing fabrication as a pedagogical tool in vertebrate anatomy courses: motivation, inclusion, and lessons. Integrative and comparative biology, 61(3), pp.1013-1027. View Full Text.
  • Danos, N., Staab, K.L. and Whitenack, L.B., 2022. The core concepts, competencies, and grand challenges of comparative vertebrate anatomy and morphology. Integrative Organismal Biology, 4(1), p.obac019. View Full Text
  • Hernandez, L.P., Staab, K.L. 2015. Bottom feeding and beyond: how the premaxillary protrusion of cypriniforms allowed for a novel kind of suction feeding. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 55(1): 74-84.

  • Gibb, A.C., Staab, K.L., Moran, C., Ferry, L.A. 2015. The teleost intramandibular joint: a mechanism that allows fish to obtain prey unavailable to suction feeders. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 55(1): 85-96.

  • Staab, K.L., Holzman, R., Hernandez, L.P., Wainwright, P.C. 2012. Independently evolved upper jaw protrusion mechanisms show convergent hydrodynamic function in teleost fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology. 215. 1456-1463.

  • Staab, K.L., Ferry, L.A., Hernandez, L.P. 2012. Comparative kinematics of cypriniform premaxillary protrusion. Zoology. 115(2): 65-77. *cover*

  • Staab, K.L., Hernandez, L.P. 2010. Development of the Cypriniform Protrusible Jaw Complex in Danio rerio: Constructional Insights for Evolution. Journal of Morphology. 271: 814-825.

Clubs and community involvement

  • Faculty Advisor for the Alpha Mu chapter of the Beta Beta Beta ("TriBeta") Biological Honor Society

  • Member of the McDaniel Pre-Medical Studies Committee

  • Chair of the McDaniel Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

  • Co-founder of the McDaniel Writing, Research, and Creativity faculty support group

  • Member of the Student Support Committee for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Awards and Honors

  • Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award (2018)

  • McDaniel College Faculty Grant Award (2018)

  • Inaugural Charles A. Boehlke Jr. Engaged Faculty Fellow (2017)

Katie Staab Headshot

"Be curious. Share joy."