Darwin Day 2024

Our guest speaker is an invertebrate zoologist and an advocate for the tiny wonders of the animal kingdom. He is an avid scuba diver and passionate about underwater exploration. His enthusiasm for sharing  the world of micro-fauna is evident in his talks about the small but spectacular snails, shrimp, and sea slugs  that make up a just a fraction of the underwater animal kingdom. He is an Associate Professor of Biology at  the University of Tampa where he teaches hands-on courses in Invertebrate Zoology, Global Sustainability,  and Coral Reefs.

His classes feature photographs of marine invertebrates that he has taken during his adventures in underwater exploration around the world. In Dr. Middlebrooks’ academic research, he uncovers the intricate relationships that colorful “lettuce” sea slugs have with the food they eat. Specifically, he focuses on the behaviors of photosynthetic or “solar powered” sea slugs which can steal chloroplasts from the algae they eat and store them inside of their own cells to make energy. Dr. Middlebrooks also conducts research on seagrass restoration and examines the animal communities that live in, and depend on, seagrass beds.