Dr. Valentina Di Santo

Assistant Professor of Functional Morphology

Division of Functional Morphology

Bolin Centre for Climate Research

Department of Zoology

Stockholm University

valentina.disanto (at) zoologi.su.se

twitter: @valedisanto

Google Scholar Page

Valentina is a fish ecophysiologist and biomechanist. She was born in La Spezia, a town by the sea in Italy. She studied Natural Sciences and Conservation Biology at the University of Firenze in Italy. Her love for fishes brought her to the University of West Florida where she studied the effect of temperature on digestion rates and efficiency in stingrays and sharks. She then moved to Boston University to study in the Marine Program for her PhD, where she quantified the effects of ocean acidification and warming on little skate development, energetics and escape performance. At Boston University she also studied the effect of body size on thermal sensitivity in cleaner gobies from Florida and Belize. During that time, she conducted field work and taught several classes in the Marine Semester in Belize. After completing her PhD, she worked in George Lauder's Lab at Harvard University as a Postdoctoral Fellow, where she focused her research on biomechanics of fish locomotion. At Stockholm University, she combines eco-physiology and biomechanics tools to understand how fishes adjust their locomotor behavior when challenged by abiotic factors, such as temperature, pH, oxygen, and flow. Outside the lab, Valentina enjoys music, improving her ukulele playing skills, swimming and surfing.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Elizabeth Murphy

Elizabeth studies aquatic biomechanics: how organisms interact with their fluid environment. She has a background in organismal biology and fluid physics and her research addresses how organisms influence ecosystem processes and impact engineered systems, and how the functioning of organisms within their ecosystems is affected by environmental change. Elizabeth received a B.A. in integrative biology at University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in Environmental Science at the University of Virginia. At UVa, she conducted research in coastal ecology (specifically, studying creatures that live in the mud), as well as on the hydrodynamics of biofouling on ship hulls (why does algae growing on a boat create so much drag?). After completing her PhD, Elizabeth worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences at Umeå University, where she studied the effects of warming and oxygen depletion on burrowing organisms in lake bottoms- and how those organisms transport solutes such as oxygen and nutrients between the lake water and sediment (mud). As a postdoc in the Di Santo lab, Elizabeth is studying the hydrodynamics and kinematics of fish schooling, as well as the effects of boundary layer turbulence on fish swimming and walking performance. When not in the lab, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, cycling, SCUBA diving, baking, and learning about Swedish customs such as the all- important fika.


Website: https://elizabethmurphy.netlify.app


Graduate Students

Guadalupe Sepúlveda Rodríguez

PhD Student

Guadalupe was born in Mexico City, Mexico, but spent her childhood exploring the ocean in Zihuatanejo, a small fishing town off the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Her fascination for the ocean grew over time and she set her mind to becoming a marine biologist. Her dreams became a reality when she completed her BSc in Marine Science and Biology with a minor in Environmental Science at the University of Tampa and her MSc in Freshwater and Marine Biology at the University of Amsterdam. She is now a PhD student at Stockholm University in the Di Santo Lab. Her research goals include shedding light into the effects of climate change stressors on the physiology and biomechanics of fish locomotion and understanding the mechanisms that drive species to acclimate and adapt to changing environments. Currently, she is investigating the effect of speed on collective behavior in schooling and shoaling fishes. During her free time, Guadalupe enjoys doing yoga, swimming, diving, hiking and learning new languages.

Guadalupe sepulveda.jpg

Camille Morerod

Master Student in Marine Biology

Camille grew up in a small mountain village called Les Diablerets in Switzerland. She received her B.Sc.  in Biology at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland and visited Stockholm University as an Erasmus Fellow. To pursue her studies and passion in marine ecosystems, she moved to Stockholm University to start a Marine Biology Master. She has a very broad interest in marine ecosystems and how they change with climate change. In the Di Santo Lab, she studies how coral reef fish exploit environmental complexity to reduce costs of locomotion. Outside the lab, she enjoys skiing, running and mountain biking (she comes from the Alps!) but also scuba diving because she loves the ocean.


Hayley McDermott

Master Student in Ethology

Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Hayley is now a second year Master student in Ethology at Stockholm University. She has previously studied at Háskóli íslands in Reykjavik, Iceland and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology, with a minor in Biological Sciences from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is interested in the ontogeny of sharks and other cartilaginous fishes. 


Undergraduate Students

Klara Freed

Student in Marine Biology


Klara was born in Mariefred, Sweden and her interest for Marine Biology started when she studied in a marine biology program in high school called Marina Läroverket. During the program, she sailed to Portsmouth and the Canary Islands where she conducted marine environmental monitoring studies. She is now a sophomore in the Marine Biology Program at Stockholm University, and just joined the Di Santo Lab. When she’s not in the lab Klara likes to study, workout, swim or hangout with friends. 


Lab Alumni

Darby Finnegan  - Fulbright Scholar

Swimming biomechanics of silverside larvae


Rebecca Bridge  - Erasmus Student

Effect of ocean warming on schooling biomechanics and energetics in a coral reef fish

Irene Villanueva Sanz  - Master Student in Biology

Swimming biomechanics of sharks under ocean acidification scenarios


Matilda Vilmar  - Undergraduate Student

Effect of ocean warming and ocean acidification on elasmobranch locomotion

Thao Vu - Undergraduate Student

Sexual dimorphism in the visual system of deep sea fishes

Annika Samuelson - Undergraduate Student

Maneuvering and unsteady swimming of Little Skate

Anna Tran - Undergraduate Student

Effect of hypoxia on activity and metabolic rates of skate embryos