Nirvana I. Filoramo

 

Contact Information

Educational History Research Teaching

 

Current Appointments

Research Scientist - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; University of Connecticut

Laboratory Coordinator - Department of Biology; Clark University

 

Contact Information

Nirvana Filoramo
Biology Department
Clark University
950 Main St.
Worcester 01610
(508) 793-7654
nfiloramo@clarku.edu

 

Educational History

Ph.D. - 2007     University of Connecticut; Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Advisor - Kurt Schwenk, Ph.D.
Concentrations: Functional and Evolutionary Morphology, Herpetology
Dissertation:   Comparative Morphology of the Tongue and Oral Cavity in Squamate Reptiles, and the Biomechanics of Vomeronasal Chemoreception.


 

 M.S. - 1997       Iowa State University; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program
 Advisor - Fredric Janzen, Ph.D.
 Concentrations: Physiological Ecology; Herpetology
 Thesis:   Effects of hydric conditions experienced by incubating red-eared slider turtle eggs, Trachemys scripta elegans, on overwintering hatchlings and their survivorship upon emerging from the nest.


 

 B.S. - 1995    University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Biology, and Environmental Science

 

Research

MAJOR RESEARCH INTERESTS

Phenotypic Evolution
Evolutionary Development
Evolutionary and Functional Morphology of Vertebrates
Evolutionary and Functional Morphology of Vomeronasal Chemoreception in Squamate Reptiles
Evolutionary and Functional Morphology of the Mouth in Squamate Reptiles
Evolutionary Development of Oral and Pharyngeal Morphology in Squamate Reptiles

       Broadly speaking, I am interested in what drives the evolution of vertebrate body plans.  This includes understanding developmental underpinnings, selective pressures, evolutionary history, and functional roles of morphology.  The comparative method, which takes phylogeny into account, is central to way that I approach my research.  In my doctoral work I employed comparative morphology to investigate the process of chemical delivery to the vomeronasal organs in squamates (snakes and lizards).  I examined the morphology of the palate, floor of the mouth, and the tongue in snakes and lizards using SEM, TEM and light microscopy.  These observations led to the development of a hydraulic hypothesis for chemical delivery to the VNOs (see publications below).  My current research includes both comparative developmental studies of the mouth and pharynx of snakes and lizards to understand the origin and function of ciliated epithelium and goblet cells in the mouths of snakes, and the kinematics of tongue-flicking behavior.

 

Manuscripts, Publications & Presentations

MANUSCRIPTS AND PUBLICATIONS

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. In Press (2009). The mechanism of chemical delivery to the vomeronasal organs in squamate reptiles: A comparative morphological approach. J. Exp. Zool. 311A:20-34.

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. In Prep. Tongue tips, tropotaxis and the mechanism of chemical delivery to the vomeronasal organs in forked-tongued squamates. (for submission to The Journal of Experimental Zoology)

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. In Prep. Ultrastructure of the keratinized surface of the tongue in squamate reptiles. (for submission to Zoology)

Warner, D. A., J. K. Tucker, N. I. Filoramo, and J. B. Towey. 2006. Claw function of hatchling and adult red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans). Chelonian Conservation and Biology 5:317-320.

Filoramo, N. I. and F. J. Janzen. 2002. An experimental study of factors influencing survivorship of red-eared slider turtle hatchlings, Trachemys scripta elegans. Herpetologica 58:67-74.

Filoramo, N. I. and F. J. Janzen. 1999. Effects of hydric conditions during incubation on overwintering hatchlings of the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). J. Herpetol. 33:29-35.

Tucker, J. K., N. I. Filoramo, and F. J. Janzen. 1999. Size-based mortality due to predation in a nesting freshwater turtle, Trachemys scripta. Am. Midl. Nat. 141:198-203.

Tucker, J. K., N. I. Filoramo, G. L. Paukstis, and F. J. Janzen. 1998. Response of red-eared slider Trachemys scripta elegans, eggs to slightly differing water potentials. J. Herpetol. 32:124-128.

Tucker, J. K., N. I. Filoramo, G. L. Paukstis, and F. J. Janzen. 1998. Residual yolk in captive and wild-caught hatchlings of the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Copeia 1998:488-492.

Tucker, J. K., and N. I. Filoramo. 1996. Fences and nesting red-eared sliders. Bull. Chicago Herp. Soc. 31:218-219.

 

PUBLISHED ABSTRACTS

Filoramo, N.I. and K. Schwenk. 2006. Hydraulic delivery of chemicals to the vomeronasal organs in squamate reptiles: A comparative morphological study.  Integrative and Comparative Biology. 46:e42.

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. 2000. Ultrastructure of the lingual surface in anguimorph lizards and snakes:  evolutionary and functional implications.  American Zoologist 40:1015.

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. 1998. Morphological evidence for variation in the mechanism of chemical delivery to the VNO in squamates. American Zoologist 38:107A.

 

INVITED RESEARCH SEMINARS

Clark University;  Department of Biology (2008)

 

ORAL PAPERS

Filoramo, N.I., K. Schwenk, and N. Kley. 2008.  Ciliated epithelium and goblet cells:  Unique features in the mouths of Snakes.  At the NE Regional Meeting of the Division of Vertebrate Morphology (a division of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology).

Filoramo, N.I. and K. Schwenk. 2008. The mechanism of chemical delivery to the vomeronasal organs in squamate reptiles. At the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Filoramo, N.I. and K. Schwenk*. 2007. Hydraulic delivery of chemicals to the vomeronasal organs in squamate reptiles: A comparative morphological study.  At the Annual Meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology. (* indicates presenter)

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. 2005. Support for placement of snakes within Anguimorpha from tongue ultrastructure.  At the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. 2001. Ultrastructure of the lingual surface in anguimorph lizards and snakes:  evolutionary and functional implications.  At the Annual Meeting for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. 2000. Ultrastructure of the lingual surface in anguimorph lizards and snakes:  evolutionary and functional implications.  At the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk. 1999. Morphological evidence for variation in the mechanism of chemical delivery to the VNO in squamates. At the Annual Meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology, and the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Filoramo, N. I. and F. J. Janzen. 1997. The effects of water potential experienced during incubation on residual yolk and carcass mass changes throughout overwintering in Trachemys scripta elegans.  At the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

 

POSTERS

Filoramo, N. I. and K. Schwenk (will be presented in Jan. 2009).  The presence of numerous cilia and goblet cells in the mouths of snakes;  a derived condition within squamates.  At the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Filoramo, N. I. 1996. Effects of egg placement within a nest on red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) development (poster).  At Biochemistry of Lipids: Slippery Boundaries, Messengers and Reserves; Iowa State University, and Zoology and Genetics Spring Symposium; Iowa State University

 

Teaching

                I have the privilege of running the Introductory Biology Labs at Clark University.  My duties include writing the lab manual, preparing the TAs, teaching the first lab section and many associated organizational duties.  My goals for the labs are as follows: 1) to expose the students to many of the disciplines within Biology and give them experience in using the tools of these disciplines; 2) to develop their analytical skills and critical thinking; 3) to understand the scientific process and hypothesis testing; and 4) to teach students the conventions of scientific writing.  To achieve these goals, I emphasize hands on activities that often incorporate hypothesis testing directly into the lab exercise.  One of the most important features of the lab is the class experiment that is run during both the fall and spring semesters.  This is a scaled down, but complete, research project during which students are guided through the process of reading background literature, designing and carrying out an experiment, analyzing the data, and reporting the results in the format of a scientific paper.