California State University Fullerton                                                                 Follow me on Twitter @FABBLab

Bioinspiration Lab

Sharks, rays, whales, and other critters. Nature is our inspiration. 


The FABB Lab explores performance in organisms ranging from plankton to the largest organisms on Earth (baleen whales). The lab operates at the interface of biology and materials science. The majority of our work is focused within the marine realm, though from time to time we investigate performance in a terrestrial critter. 

FABB Lab Fall 2019. Back: Raj Divi, Andrew Lowe, Ryan Fitterer, Ashleigh Davis, Jacob Javier

Front: Lindsay Maldonado, Misty Paig-Tran (PI), Leslie Barron


Oceanside Oarfish 2013
Oceanside Oarfish 2013
Whale shark feeding in Holbox, Mexico. JEB cover shot (2011). Photo by Louise Murray.
Whale shark feeding in Holbox, Mexico. JEB cover shot (2011). Photo by Louise Murray.

Research focus: 

Evolution and performance of filter-feeding in sharks and rays (whale sharks, basking sharks, megamouth sharks and manta/mobula rays).


This work is supported by NSF IOS.



Other current research 


1) Function and biomaterials of deep sea fish bones (dragonfish and hatchetfish).


2) Osteoderm performance in armadillos (collaboration with Dr. Ted Stankowich and M.S. Caitlin Stapp). 


3) Hearing in mysticete whales

(Graduate student Maddy Wilson)

Work in part supported by CSU Violet Horn Fellowship. 


4)  Animal bite/jaw performance - piranhas, squids, sharks, ribbonfishes (Graduate students Andrew Lowe and Jahnita DeMoranville)


5) Digging performance and fluidization of sand beds in sand crabs (SCERP)


6) Tooth fatigue and replacement in sharks (Undergraduate student Ryan Fitterer)


7) Microplastics pollution and remediation in commercially important food fishes

(Graduate student Chelsea Bowers)

Work in part supported by CSU COAST RAPID funds, CSU COAST Graduate Funding, CSUF Coppel Funding, CSUF Jr/Sr Grant.  


8) Function and performance of accessory reproductive organs.

(Graduate Student Katie Kern)


9) Filter performance in whale sharks

(Graduate student Nicole Steplewski)

Work in part supported by NSF IOS funding. 


Previous projects

1) Evolution and development of hyperostosis in marine fishes (oarfishes) - Collaboration with Dr. Lara Ferry

2) Fish scales as a model for new armor technology (armored catfish) - Andrew Lowe

3) Mechanical performance and freezing of bone in tunas and their relatives - Andrew Barrios

4) Manta ray filtration  - Raj Divi



FABB Lab in the news

JEB. 2011
JEB. 2011

Shark School at California Academy of Sciences. Learn about why Whale sharks are the true murder beasts of the sea.


Oarfish with BYU podcast


National Geographic Feature on Corydoras


Bad Science Podcast The Shape of Water


Bad Science Podcast Finding Nemo


KFI Radio


Daily Breeze


Science Friday NPR Manta Ray Gill Rakers 2014


Science Friday NPR Oarfish 2014

Radio feature:


Daily Titan


Clearing and staining


Crowd funding


2013 Oarfish work

PBS Interview


New York Times


Nature article






2013 Six-gill shark research


San Juan islander article


Mantas and whale shark research 

2013 California State University Press release & full article - Devil ray research


2013 San Juan Islander


2013 University of Washington press:


2013 American Microscopical Society:


2013 Friday Harbor Laboratories feature:


2011 Inside JEB Feature:


2011 American Elasmobranch Society


2010 UCI COSMOS program


I am affiliated with Please visit this site to learn more about other ongoing manta ray research.

For a link to my work from FHL visit


All images on this website belong to Misty Paig-Tran, The Journal of Experimental Biology, and the Journal of Morphology. Please feel free to use these images for presentations as long as you give me credit. No images may be shared for other purposes, including websites, without my permission. 



Students interested in joining the FABB lab should contact Dr. Paig-Tran directly. Include a short statement of who you are and your research interests. It is helpful to include an updated C.V. 


*Remember, before contacting any professor about joining their lab, make sure that you do your homework. Know what their lab does. Try to read one of their papers or at least an abstract from their papers.


Have a possible research question ready to discuss. This impresses P.I.s and gives you the advantage over students who have not taken the time to look into what happens in that lab.


Contact Misty: