University of Texas at Austin
My research background is diverse ranging from astrophysics to biophysics, and addresses questions varying from plasma collimation to polarized communication and camouflage. My PhD was in laser plasma laboratory astrophysics in Professor at the University of Texas at Austin where I used laser and electrical discharge plasmas in magnetic fields to simulate astrophysical jets and magnetospheres in the laboratory (Brady et al, 2009,2012; Physics of Plasmas). Concurrently, while finishing my PhD, I worked with Professor Molly Cummings on a project to determine if the beetle Chrysina gloriosa could visually sense circular polarization as they reflect circular polarization from their exocuticle (Brady & Cummings, 2010; American Naturalist). After graduation I worked as a curator of entomology at the University of Texas. I later joined an ONR and NSF-funded project to quantify marine animal based strategies of polarization camouflage. For this project I wrote significant parts of the grants, built an underwater full Stokes division-of-time video polarimeter and other polarization measurement devices, designed and executed biological experiments involving polarization, analyzed the data and calculated models based on that data. Using our video polarimeter we measured the polarized reflectance of a silvery open-ocean fish and found a strong correlation to a physics based model focused on the ideal polarized reflectance for omni-directional camouflage (Brady et al., 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), as well as in situ measurements of open ocean fish camouflage (Brady et al., 2015; Science). We made histological investigations of the origins of fish skin reflectance (Zhao et al., 2015; Journal of The Royal Society Interface). We also measured that a freshwater fish used polarization signaling in reference to mate choice (Calabrese et al., 2014; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). See http://www.bio.utexas.edu/research/cummingslab for more details.