Esther Leise

Esther M. Leise


(336) 334-4957
427 Eberhart Building


Neuroendocrine control of metamorphosis in marine molluscs, invertebrate neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.


Ph.D., University of Washington


Research in my laboratory focuses on the neural control of metamorphosis in the marine snail, Ilyanassa obsoleta. The mudflats where these organisms live contain several species that can induce metamorphosis in Ilyanassa, and our major research goal is to understand how the larval nervous system controls this irreversible developmental event. We use a combination of anatomical and physiological methods in our research and are currently exploring the interaction between a natural metamorphic inducer and the actions of two major neurotransmitters, nitric oxide and serotonin, that are affected by the induction process. Our studies also allow me to maintain my interests in the evolution of invertebrate nervous systems and developmental processes.

Recent Publications:

Leise, E.M., J. T. Washburn, J. G. Long, B. Bridgewater and N. Shah. (2014) Acidic Seawater can Promote Metamorphosis in the Marine Mud Snail Ilyanassa obsoleta. Journal of the NC Academy of Sciences. 130(2): 64-70.

Leise, E.M. and Cahoon, L.B. (2012) Neurotransmitters, Benthic Diatoms and Metamorphosis a Marine Snail, In Snails: Biology, Ecology and Conservation., eds. E. Hämäläinen and S. Järvinen, Nova Science Publishers, Inc. pp1-43.

Lancaster, J.L., Hellen, E.H. and Leise, E.M. (2010) Modeling excitable systems: Reentrant Tachycardia. American Journal of Physics 78(1):56–63. Selected for inclusion in December 15, 2009 issue of Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research.

Leise, E.M., Froggett, S.J. Nearhoof, J., and Cahoon, L. (2009) Diatom cultures exhibit differential effects on larval metamorphosis in the marine gastropod Ilyanassa obsoleta (Say). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 379(1-2):51-59.

Gharbiah, M., Cooley, J., Leise, E.M., Nakamoto, A., Rabinowitz, J.S. Lambert, J.D., and Nagy, L. (2008) Methods for studying development in the reemerging model spiralian Ilyanassa. In Handbook of Non-Model Organisms. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.


Cell Biology (BIO 355)
Cell Biology Lab (BIO 356)
Histology (BIO 472)
Neurobiology (BIO 479)
Advanced Topics in Cell Biology (BIO 504)
Advanced Topics in Neurobiology (BIO 507)
Metamorphosis (BIO 552)
Drugs & The Brain (BIO 573)