David Ross Boyd Professor of Biology
Dean, University College
Dr. Gaffin's Web Page
Current Research Interests and Subject Areas Available for Graduate Research
Our laboratory is interested in how animals acquire and process information about their sensory environments. We have focused on sand scorpions in our research, owing to their clean native habitat, slow walking behavior, and fluorescent cuticle. The chemo-, mechano-, and visual sensory systems of these animals are all approachable to physiological investigation and we use a combination of behavioral, morphological, and electrophysiological techniques to deduce circuitry and neural coding of sensory information in this ancient group of animals.
Much of our work focuses on the large, midventral appendages of scorpions called pectines. These chemosensory organs are dragged or swept intermittently across the ground as the animal walks and are important in mediating chemically induced mate-finding and food-locating behaviors. A novel feature of the pectinal chemosensory system is the existence of synapses between primary and neural afferents. Extracellular recordings from peg sensilla, the primary sensory structures on pectines, contain large-amplitude sensory cell firings that are distinguishable by waveform. By cross-correlating the activity of these sensory units during bouts of chemical stimulation, we are learning how information is coded in this accessible neural network.
To learn more about this research, visit Dr. Gaffin's Web Page.
Ph.D., Oregon State University
B.S., University of California, Berkeley
Member, Oklahoma Center for Neuroscience
2010 David Ross Boyd Professorship
2007 OU Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award
2004 OU Regents' Award for Superior Teaching
1999 Outstanding First-Year-Advocate Award (from National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina)
1999 General Education Teaching Award
1997 Irene Rothbaum Award
(1 denotes undergraduate at time of manuscript production)
Taylor MS, 1Cosper C, Gaffin DD (2012) Behavioral evidence of pheromonal signaling in desert grassland scorpions, Paruroctonus utahensis. Journal of Arachnology, 40:240-244.
Gaffin DD, Bumm LA, Taylor MS, 1Popokina NV, Mann S (2012) Scorpion fluorescence and reaction to light. Animal Behaviour, 83:429-436.
Gaffin DD (2011) In situ infrared videography of sand scorpion nighttime surface activity. In: Fet V, Selden PA, editors. “SCORPIONS 2001” John L. Cloudsley-Thompson 90th Birthday Commemorative Volume. Euscorpius 122:1-13.
1Knowlton ED, Gaffin DD (2011) Functionally redundant peg sensilla on the scorpion pecten. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 197:895-902.
1Knowlton ED, Gaffin DD (2011) Electrophysiology of scorpion peg sensilla. Journal of Visualized Experiments 50. (http://www.jove.com/details.php?id=2642)
1Knowlton ED, Gaffin DD (2010) A new tip-recording method to test scorpion pecten chemoresponses to water-soluble stimulants. Journal of Neruroscience Methods, 193:264–270.
Gaffin DD (2010) Analysis of sensory processing in scorpion peg sensilla. Journal of Arachnology, 38:1–8.
1Knowlton ED, Gaffin DD (2009) A new approach to examining scorpion peg sensilla: the mineral oil flood technique. Journal of Arachnology, 37:379–382.
1Blass GRC, Gaffin DD (2008) Light wavelength biases of scorpions. Animal Behaviour, 76:365-373
Walvoord ME, Hoefnagels MH, Gaffin DD, Long D, Chumchal M (2007) An assessment of Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) in a biology classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 37(4):66-73.
Lewis R, Parker B, Gaffin D, Hoefnagels M (2007) Life, 6th ed. McGraw-Hill Corporation. (General biology textbook).
Gaffin DD, Walvoord ME (2004) Scorpion peg sensilla: are they the same or are they different? Euscorpius, 17:7-15.