Lillian McCormick
(Graduate Student)
Email: lrmccorm@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 534-3579
Fax: (858) 822-0562
Address: 9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California 92093-0218
Research Interests:

My current research is studying the effects of low oxygen/hypoxia on sensory systems in marine organisms. Ocean deoxygenation is a global impact of climate change, and is particularly of concern in areas that already experience high variability in oxygen concentration. My objective is to determine how hypoxia changes the way organisms sense their environment, and subsequently alters their behavior and impacts ecology.

Specific interests include:

- oxygen requirements of sensory systems
- the development of the visual system in marine organisms
- determining the variability of oxygen and light over different time scales using sensors
- the interaction of marine organisms with variables such as oxygen, light, pH, and temperature in their environment
- the physiological effects of hypoxia
- evaluating and designing aquarium lighting to facilitate visual function (e.g. mimicking light in the natural environment)

Left: A sensor that requires scientific diving for maintenance and calibration.
Right: Preparing to start a respiration experiment to measure the metabolic rate of a juvenile squid.


I am currently a PhD candidate in the Biological Oceanography program. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in marine science from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, where I completed my thesis research on the pupil light reflex in the Atlantic brief squid, Lolliguncula brevis. During my time at Eckerd, I received a NOAA Hollings Scholarship, and spent my summer internship working jointly at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center. After graduation, I spent two years as a research technician in the lab of Dr. Jon Cohen at the University of Delaware, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. I participated as a scientist on 4 cruises in the Gulf of Mexico studying the effects of oil and dispersant on zooplankton behavior and physiology following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and continued with my research on vision in squid. These experiences led me to pursue further education, and after receiving a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, I began graduate school at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


McCormick, L.R. & Levin, L.A. 2017. Physiological and ecological implications of ocean deoxygenation for vision in marine organisms. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 375 : 20160322. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2016.0322

Cohen, J.H., McCormick, L.R., and Burkhardt, S.M. 2014. Effects of Dispersant and Oil on Survival and Swimming Activity in a Marine Copepod. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. DOI 10.1007/s00128-013-1191-4.

McCormick, L.R. and Cohen, J.H. 2012. The pupil light reflex of the Atlantic brief squid, Lolliguncula brevis. Journal of Experimental Biology. 215: 2677-2683.

Additional Interests:

SCUBA diving is an essential tool in my research, and I have certifications as an AAUS Scientific diver and a NAUI Advanced, Nitrox, and Rescue diver. Any remaining time when I am not working on my research is spent cycling and running, and I have raced with the UCSD Triathlon team, UCSD Cycling team, and the San Diego Bicycle Club (SDBC).

Most of my extra time is spent training and racing, including at the Olympic Training Center velodrome in Colorado Springs for Collegiate Track Cycling Nationals.
(Photo credit for top image: Cody Gallo)

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Updated February 23, 2018
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