Stephen A. Watts, Ph.D.
Professor, Aquatic and Marine Sciences
Director, Aquatic Animals Research Core (AARC)
Co-Director, UAB Zebrafish Resource Facility
Associate Director, Animal Models Core, Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (NORC)
Ph.D. (Zoology), 1986, University of South Florida
The research interests of our laboratory are broadly in the areas of nutrition, health and longevity. We use primarily comparative aquatic animal models in studies related to human health. Our primary outcomes include growth, reproduction, physiology and biochemistry, endocrinology, and immunological responses to nutritional and environmental stressors, particularly those related to changes in body composition and the mechanisms therein. We are very interested in the zebrafish and sea urchin models for their value in biomedical research. We also have a strong interest in killifish models, particularly those of short-lived species. In addition, we are interested in issues related to sustainability, including the implementation of vegetative roof technologies.
We have several major thrusts of research in our laboratory. These thrusts include:
- Understanding the effects of nutrition and the environment on the body composition and physiological function of aquatic organisms. Primary thrusts involve mechanisms leading to or preventing obesity.
- Development of standard reference and experimental diets for zebrafish, killifish (including Nothobranchius), and sea urchins. These studies will lead us to understand the role of specific nutrients affecting development, growth, and health of parental and offspring populations.
- Evaluating causative factors, including nutrition and environmental toxicants, affecting longevity in short-lived models.
- Using nanotechnologies to develop nutrient and drug delivery systems in aquatic animals.
- Understanding the nutrition and physiology of reproduction and growth in sea urchins. These organisms represent a developing aquaculture and fisheries opportunity in the Gulf of Mexico and the US.
- Evaluating fetal alcohol syndrome in aquatic model organisms.
- Investigating the environmental physiology, growth, nutrition and digestive physiology of species important in aquaculture, including tilapia, crayfish, penaeid shrimp and freshwater prawns. Increased knowledge of these economically important organisms can lead to enhanced aquaculture practices.
- Developing vegetative roof technologies for widespread use in the southeast. Vegetative roofs can be important in reducing non-point source pollutants that can affect aquatic and marine ecosystems.
- Resource sustainability.