Everyone in the lab is an evolutionary biologist interested in the phylogenetics of fishes or systematic theory. We focus on the large-scale phenomena that have shaped the history and diversification of fishes at various scales and in both geographic space and geologic time. We use a combination of phylogenetic trees, field collections, and focused anatomical, morphometric, and genomic analyses to understand the evolution and diversification of freshwater or marine fishes.

If you are interested in opportunities in working on the evolution of fishes at the University of Kansas, we encourage you to contact anyone in the lab directly.

Ongoing projects in the laboratory include:

Examples of popular press based on our research:

May 8, 2015 - Sarah Griffiths, The Daily Mail, “The animal kingdom's most bizarre MOTHERS: Fish that stores hatched babes in her mouth and frog with an egg 'backpack' among amazing creatures”
7 May 2015 - Gina Kaufmann & Matthew Long-Middleton, Central Standard, KCUR Public Radio, “How different animals mother their young.”
September 17, 2013 - Helen Fields, Science, Science Magazine, Science Now, "Tracing cichlids through the seas"
March 5, 2013 - Julia Thiel, The Reader, The Bleader, "What is a fish? Field Museum curator Leo Smith talks about his research"
September 21, 2011 - Michael DeBonis, NPR, WBEZ, Clever Apes, "Meet the most venomous fish (and some other cool critters)"
February 24, 2009 - Robin Lloyd,, "Freaky fish has eyes like ours"
August 29, 2008 - Adam Bulger, USA Today (Forbes Traveller), "World's deadliest delicacies"
July 28, 2008 - Jeanna Bryner,, "Incredible fish armor could suit soldiers"
September 5, 2006 - Glenn Collins, New York Times "Stingray attack kills Australia's 'Crocodile Hunter"


These projects have been funded by the University of Kansas, The Field Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the National Science Foundation through grants on the Phylogenetics of Scorpionfishes, The Euteleost Tree of Life, The Evolution of Pharyngognathy, the Diversification of Spiny-Rayed Fishes, and Diversification in the Deep Sea

University of Kansas, Biodiversity Institute, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045; 785.864.6874 ©2016 W.L. Smith