My research program is primarily focused on the evolution of vision from a molecular perspective. Within the eye, visual pigments form the first step in the sensory visual pathway of all animals that can see. Aspects of its biochemistry affect the way an organism perceives and functions in its environment. In my laboratory we use a variety of molecular methods to study the evolution of visual pigments, with a view toward correlating their function with the vision and behavior of the organisms in which these proteins reside. In addition to comparative studies of visual pigments in a variety of organisms, we also study visual pigment evolution by recreating ancestral proteins in the laboratory. This is done by first inferring the ancestral pigment sequence using phylogenetic methods, then expressing an artificially synthesized ancestral gene in the laboratory. This allows us to study its evolutionary properties directly, instead of extrapolating the evolution of function from present day proteins.