Zachary Mueller

Research Interests:

 Oil is a very complex toxic solution. It is ubiquitous in the modern world but its toxicological properties are poorly understood. There is a clear and present need to understand the consequences of oil contamination to humans and wildlife. I investigate how environmentally relevant quantities of crude oil change fish physiology, in particular swim performance. Oil exposure at sublethal concentrations may not outright kill an individual, but death may occur from an inability to compete in the natural environment. Homeostasis is a vital process which maintains an equilibrium between the internal condition inside the organism with the external environment. Toxins can perturb if not permanently alter homeostasis which may lead to a change in an individual’s chance of survival. I believe swim performance can be used as a tool to approximate fitness and thus aid in quantifying sublethal toxicity of crude oil. I want to further the understanding of how oil exposure impairs oxygen consumption, critical swimming speed, energy stores, alters enzyme expression, and swimming behavior in the hopes of better quantifying the toxicological cost to fitness of petroleum products.