Jason Macrander, Ph.D.

About Me

I am an evolutionary biologist using comparative ‘omics approaches in sea anemones and other venomous animals to address questions concerning molecular responses to environmental stressors, venom evolution, symbiosis, and protein function. In my research, I use sea anemones as a model to understand how ecological factors influence molecular diversity from a phylogenetic perspective.


  • Ph.D., Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University
  • M.S. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • B.S. (dual degrees), (1) Biological Sciences, (2) Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Research Interests

Students in my lab use comparative ‘omics approaches in sea anemones and other animals to address questions concerning the molecular mechanism of stress response, venom evolution, symbiosis, and protein function. My research area of focus could be described as Marine Molecular Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. We use molecular tools to better understand evolution and ecology in the diversity around us. Your research in my lab will likely involve some aspect of organismal biology, molecular biology, and/or bioinformatic methods.

Examples of Recent/Current Student Projects

  • Abigail Tarleton (Class of 2023) conducted a time series of DNA extractions and PCRs on sea anemones to test the length at which Artemia (prey) could be detected in sea anemone gut contents and is currently developing a project looking at the impacts of sunscreens on the coral model Exaiptasia pallida to study stress response to sun screen exposure.
  • Andrea Frias Vellón (Class of 2022) has led a project that looks at the impacts of microplastics on life history characteristics of sea anemones. Andrea presented her research at the virtual CNIDOFEST conference and you can see her talk here for more details.
  • Jackie Krantz (2020 honors student graduate) studied the evolution of ShK proteins across sea anemones. Her honors thesis is currently in preparation to be published in the journal Marine Drugs.
  • Serena Manzi (2020 graduate) was leading a project to study the impact of elevated temperature and ocean acidification on sea anemones.
  • Lenny Vossgatter (Class of 2020) collaborated with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute to determine if unique morphotypes of the shy crab Calappa flammea were the same species. His research was published in the Journal of Crustacean Biology.

Students Interested in Research

Students interested in the following should discuss research opportunities with me:

  • Investigate how both venom and/or symbiosis have evolved and/or influence how species survive and interact with one another and their environment.
  • Understand how marine invertebrates respond to climate change or other stressors.
  • Bioprospecting venom (or other pharmaceutically beneficial proteins) from marine invertebrates or other organisms.
  • Use Bioinformatic techniques to answer complex evolutionary or genomic questions.

What my lab doesn't do:

  • Keep scleractinian corals in the lab during your first year of research. These require significant care and maintenance and many questions you may have in this area can be answered with E. pallida.
  • Lots of field work. We may go out once and a while, but it's not central to our research questions.
  • Conduct research involving live vertebrates (except in certain circumstances - studying clownfish/sea anemone symbioses).

Faculty I have collaborated with previously and advised student research (to some degree):

  • Banks
  • Brandon
  • Morvillo
  • Kjellmark
  • Gasper
  • Gravinese

Presenting At Conferences


By your second year in the lab you should have collected sufficient data to present at an international research conference. In addition to any regional/local conferences around Florida regularly attend SICB (Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology), which are regularly held early January before the Spring Semester starts. International research conferences are a great way to meet prospective graduate school advisees and connect with other scientists from around the world.

Full List of Updated Publications

Office Information

Location: Polk Science 129

Email: jmacrander@flsouthern.edu

Phone: 863.680.4351