David J. Coughlin

David J. Coughlin, PhD

  • Professor
Media Expertise:
  • Science & Environment

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Biology (1991)
    Boston University (MA)

About Me

Undergraduate research is an important modality in biology education. I enjoyed doing senior thesis work as an undergraduate at St. Louis University so many years ago. I continue to enjoy engaging students in the lab today.

Research Interests

I examine muscle function during locomotion and feeding. Employing fish as model species, my students and I use integrated research approaches, from whole animal performance to tissue function to gene expression. Currently, my lab is focused on how a small, coastal fish, the rainbow smelt, is able to swim and feed during the extreme cold of the North Atlantic winter.

Media Expertise

  • Fish biology, ecology and development
  • Vertebrate physiology, vision and locomotion


  • Fouladi, K. and D. J. Coughlin. 2021.  CFD Investigation of Trout-Like Configuration Holding Station near an Obstruction. Fluids 6, 204. fluids6060204. 
  • Hittle, K. A., E. S. Kwon and D. J. Coughlin. 2021. Climate change and anadromous fish: how does thermal acclimation affect the mechanics of myotomal muscle of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar? Journal Experimental Zoology 335(3), 311-318. 
  • Currier, M., J. Rouse and D. J. Coughlin. 2020. Group swimming behaviour and energetics in bluegill Lepomis macrochirus and rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. Journal of Fish Biology jfb.1464. 
  • Moran, C. J., K. E. Jebb, L. S. Travitz, D. J. Coughlin and S. P. Gerry. 2020 Thermal acclimation leads to variable muscle responses in two temperate labrid fishes.  Journal of Experimental Biology 223, jeb235226. 
  • Woytanowski, J.R., & Coughlin, D.J. (2013). Thermal acclimation in rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax, leads to faster myotomal muscle contractile properties and improved swimming performance. Biology Open, 2, 343–350.
  • Campion, L., Choi, S., Mistry, H.L., & Coughlin, D.J. (2012). Myosin heavy chain and parvalbumin expression in swimming and feeding muscles of Centrarchid fishes: The molecular basis of the scaling of contractile properties. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A, 163, 223–230.
  • Carroll, A.M., Ambrose, A.M., Anderson, T.A., and Coughlin, D.J. (2009). Feeding muscles scale differently from swimming muscles in sunfish (Centrarchidae). Biology Letters, 5, 274–277.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), American Physiological Society (APS)