Lars Schmitz
Associate Professor of Biology
Office: Keck Science Center 124
Phone: 909-607-7409
Office Hours: M 10-11:30, W 1:30-3, or by appointment
Web Site:
Educational Background:
Postdoc: University of California Davis, Wainwright Lab
PhD: University of California Davis, 2008 (supervisor: Ryosuke Motani)
MSc: University of Bonn, 2003 (supervisor: Martin Sander)
BSc: University of Bonn, 2000
Courses Taught:
BIOL 44L Introductory Biology
BIOL 120 Research Methods in Organismal Biology
BIOL 141L Vertebrate Anatomy
BIOL 150L Functional Human Anatomy and Biomechanics
BIOL 167 Sensory Evolution
BIOL182L Applied Phylogenetics
Research Interests:
Functional and evolutionary vertebrate morphology; paleobiology; evolution of vertebrate vision, phylogenetic comparative methods
Thesis Topics:
For a more detailed description of my research program please refer to
1) Analysis of morphological evolution. Students are measuring morphological traits in museum collections (e.g., LA County Museum of Natural History) and analyze the data from a functional and phylogenetic perspective.
2) Retina physiology and visualization. After the arrival of our new confocal laser scanning microscope we can analyze retina fine structure with traditional histology, stereology, and immunohistochemistry. In addition to lab work, students are involved in developing new visualization techniques of spatial distributions of cells across the retina.
3) Behavioral tests of visual performance. In order to groundtruth optical models we are carrying out experiments to determine the actual abilities of our study organisms.
All projects have a strong computational component.
Selected Publications List: Click to open new window.
1.   MACIVER, M.A.*, SCHMITZ, L.*, UGURCAN, M., MURPHY, T.D., & C. D. MOBLEY . (2017). Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences   114: E2375-2384.
2.   ANGIELCZYK, K. D. & L. SCHMITZ* . (2014). ). Nocturnality in synapsids predates the origin of mammals by over 100 million years. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B   281: 20141642.
3.   FRÖBISCH, N., FRÖBISCH, J., SANDER, M.*, SCHMITZ, L.* & O. RIEPPEL . (2013). A macropredatory ichthyosaur from the Middle Triassic and the origin of modern trophic networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences   110: 1393-1397.
4.   SCHMITZ, L. & R. MOTANI . (2011). Nocturnality in dinosaurs inferred from scleral ring and orbit morphology. Science   332: 705-708.