Cher Nicholson

Mentor: Dr. Gustav Paulay
Florida Museum of Natural History
"Becoming involved in undergraduate research was one of my priorities for my first year spent at the University of Florida, because I am pursuing a career in biological or marine based research. In an effort to see if a career in research is my vocation, I pursued a research position on the first week of my freshman year. My passion for science and marine life has only grown since starting in Dr. Paulay’s Marine Invertebrate Research Lab."





Research Interests

  • Marine Invertebrates

Academic Awards

  • Emerging Scholars Program 2015-2016
  • Science Pathfinder Nominee
  • Academic Prefect
  • Harvard Book Award


  • Navigators


  • South Florida Science Center and Aquarium
  • Multiple Sclerosis Walk
  • Girls Basketball Summer Sports Camp

Hobbies and Interests

  • Basketball
  • Snorkeling
  • Painting

Research Description

Dardanus Sanguinocarpus
Within Dr. Paulay’s Marine Invertebrate Research Lab, I was given the opportunity to work on an interesting project that involves the entire collection of Dardanus sanguinocarpus, which is a specie of hermit crab that is easily identified by the presence of red on the joints of its legs. In this project, I and another undergraduate student, Mackenzie Griffin, will be working under the guidance of Patrick Norby, a graduate student of Zoology at the University of Florida. We will be working on verifying or refuting Japanese researcher, Akira Asakura’s, findings in his publishing of “Dardanus sanguinocarpus Degener, 1925 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Anomura: Diogenidae) species complex: a redescription of
D. sanguinocarpus and descriptions of three new species. ” In this article, Asakura supports his hypothesis of the presence of three additional species within Dardanus sanguinocarpus with the use of significant differences in morphology. In the collection of Dardanus sanguinorcarpus at the Florida Museum of Natural History each specimen will be sequenced and also categorized based on morphology to see if there are any other species that are included within this specie. Considering the results our group will be able to verify or refute Akira Asakura’s findings that Dardanus sanguinocarpus actually includes three other species including: Dardanus umbella, Dardanus robustus, and Dardanus longior. Through the use of genetics along with morphological evidence Dr. Paulay hopes to see if what the Japanese researcher, Asakura, has found is correct. I am thrilled to receive this opportunity to get involved in his lab, because I will be able to gain valuable knowledge in lab techniques and will have the opportunity to be exposed to field research in the future.