Skip To Navigation Skip To Content

Faculty and Research

Faculty Member

Douglas D. Gaffin Douglas D. Gaffin Interim Dean, Honors College; David Ross Boyd Professor, Biology David L. Boren Hall 160 405-325-5166 Ph.D., Zoology/Neurophysiology - Oregon State University, 1994


We are interested in how animals detect, process, and use sensory information to move about their native habitats. We are particularly interested in the neural circuitry that underlies these behaviors. Sand scorpions are our animal of choice because of their clean native habitat, slow walking behavior, fluorescent cuticle, and conduciveness to electrophysiological investigation. We are also testing the “navigation by scene familiarity” hypothesis using algorithms inspired from ants and bees and are exploring the possibility that the ornate pectinal organs of scorpions may be involved in navigation via chemo-textural familiarity.

Selected Publications:

Ashford, K., Blankenship, R., Carpenter, W., Wheeler, I., and Gaffin, D. (2018) Response of the desert grassland scorpion to air movement from moth analog. J. Arachnol. 46: 1–5.

Gaffin, D. D. and Brayfield, B. P. (2017) Exploring the chemo-textural familiarity hypothesis for scorpion navigation. J. Arachnol. 45: 265–270.

Gaffin, D .D. and Brayfield, B. P. (2016) Autonomous visual navigation of an indoor environment using a parsimonious, insect inspired familiarity algorithm. PLOS ONE 11(4): e0153706. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153706.

Gaffin, D. D., Dewar, A., Graham, P., and Philippides, A. (2015) Insect-inspired navigation algorithm for an aerial agent using satellite imagery. PLOS ONE 10(4): e0122077, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122077.

Vinnedge, J. and Gaffin, D.D. (2015) Determination of in-lab site fidelity and movement patterns of Paruroctonus utahensis. J. Arachnol. 43: 54–58.

Gaffin, D. D. and Barker, T. N. (2014) Comparison of scorpion behavioral responses to UV under sunset and nighttime irradiances. J. Arachnol. 42: 111-118.

Taylor, M.S., Cosper, C., and Gaffin, D. D. (2012) Behavioral evidence of pheromonal signaling in desert grassland scorpions, Paruroctonus utahensis. J. Arachnol. 40: 240-244.

Gaffin, D. D., Bumm, L. A., Taylor, M. S., Popokina, N. V., and Mann, S. (2012) Scorpion fluorescence and reaction to light. Anim. Beh. 83: 429-436.

Knowlton, E. D. and Gaffin, D. D. (2011) Functionally redundant peg sensilla on the scorpion pecten. J. Comp. Physiol. A 197: 895-902.

Knowlton, E. D. and Gaffin, D. D. (2010) A new tip-recording method to test scorpion pecten chemoresponses to water-soluble stimulants. J. Neurosci. Methods 193: 264-270.