University Programs’ Seminar Series highlights current and ongoing research by visiting researchers, along with DISL faculty and students. The seminars are open to the community and can be attended in person or via zoom. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the marine science community.

Seminars are usually held on Fridays at 12 p.m. CST in the Richard C. Shelby Center for Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management Building on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab campus.

Next Seminar

Ellie Flaum

Date: Friday, December 8

Time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Seminar: Cellular form and function: morpho-dynamics of single cells

Speaker: Ellie Flaum, Ph.D. Candidate, Prakash Lab, Biophysics Program, Stanford University

Zoom Link

Seminar Summary:

Eukaryotic cells can undergo dramatic morphological changes over many different length and time scales. Some of these morpho-dynamic processes, such as cell division, phagocytosis or cellular motility are well-studied. However the fundamental limits of cellular morpho-dynamics, such as how fast or how much cellular shapes can change without harm to a living cell, remain poorly understood.

Here we show that hyper-extensibility of the single-celled protist Lacrymaria olor, a 40 μm cell capable of repeatable extensions of a neck-like protrusion up to 1500 μm in 20 seconds, are enabled by unique cortical cytoskeleton and membrane architectures. Using multi-modal imaging techniques, we map the exact cortical cytoskeleton of Lacrymaria olor and find a multi-layer spooled microtubule architecture. We further discover a new motif in cellular membrane folding, a curve-crease origami structure in a living cell, that precisely enables L. olor to rapidly deploy and retrieve a neck-like protrusion.

The deployment of this unique helical curved crease origami in a cell is controlled by a fold singularity that creates a transition zone between folded and unfolded states of the membrane. These folds are supported by the cortical cytoskeleton, enabling the cell to achieve reversible spooling and unspooling of microtubules along the neck.

Our work demonstrates a direct link between form and function of cortical cytoskeleton in a unicellular protist, emphasizing the role of cytoskeleton geometry and cell architecture in controlling single cell behavior.

Ellie Flaum’s Bio:

I am a PhD Candidate in the Prakash Lab in the Biophysics Program at Stanford University. My research focuses on how cellular morphology dynamics influence behavior in both aquatic and marine microorganisms. In particular, I am interested in the rapid morphological dynamics of the ciliate Lacrymaria olor.

Upcoming seminars

  • Friday December 15 - Rob Condon, Young Scientists Academy

Past Seminars

Some seminars are archived on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab YouTube Channel.










  • January 22 - Joel Fodrie, UNC, Chapel Hill - Landscape Effects on the Fisheries Ecology and Ecosystem-service Delivery of a Temperate Estuary.
  • February 5 - Dr. Lee Smee, Texas A&M Univ. Corpus Christi - The World is my Oyster: Predator-Prey Interactions, Chemical Cues, and Genetic Diversity on Oyster Reef’
  • February 26 - Dr. Jeff Morris, University of Alabama, Birmingham
  • March 5 - Dr. Christopher Anderson, Auburn University
  • March 12 - Dr. Patty Sobecky, University of Alabama
  • March 16 - Dr. Richard B. Anderson, FIT
  • April 2 - Dr. Chuck Amsler, University of Alabama, Birmingham
  • May 21 – Dr. Bill Dennison, UMCES


  • November 6 - Dr. Eric Peatman, Auburn University – “Fitting Mobile-Tensaw Delta Bass into the Black Bass Puzzle: New Molecular Tools and New Insights”
  • November 21 - Dr. Mark Butler, Old Dominion University – “Lobster Tales: Homelessness, Pestilence & Alien Encounters"
  • December 4 - Dr. Ari Daniel, Independent Science Reporter & Producer - “Carving Story out of Science”