Hello and welcome. My name is Matt Girard, and I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Fishes at the National Museum of Natural History. I am an ichthyologist, or fish fanatic, who enjoys asking questions about the anatomy, evolution, and natural history of fishes. My research specifically focuses on the systematics of perch-like fishes, how both phenotypic and genotypic features can inform our understanding of evolutionary history, and the patterns and processess of broad-scale evolutionary changes. Please explore my publications and feel free to contact me for more information.
I also have a passion for teaching and have been lucky enough to play a role in the education of thousands of students, primarily at the University of Kansas. From introductory-level biology courses, to advanced courses on systematics and the history and diversity of life, I truly enjoy engaging with students and inviting them to expand their knowledge and understanding of life. Take a look at my teaching section for more information.
I am a proud member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) and currently serve as the Illustration Editor for Ichthyology & Herpetology. ASIH is a fantastic organization of folks interested in the study of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles with annual events and opportunities to learn more about these incredible creatures.
I also enjoy photography and using different imaging techniques to showcase the morphological features and the fishes that I am working with. Feel free to check out some of my recent photos below.
Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Honors, 2021
University of Kansas
B.S. in Biology with Ecology Emphasis, 2014
Loyola University Chicago
Characterizing the morphology of the Carangiformes
The relationships among Threadfins (Polynemidae)
Anatomy and evolution of Archerfishes (Toxotidae)
I strive to provide an engaging and innovative learning experience for all students. My skills as an educator have been honed in numerous settings, from large lecture halls, to smaller laboratories, to experiential field trips, and to individualized undergraduate research experiences. Each of these settings, along with the variety of course materials I have been responsible for, have shown me the value of using innovative techniques to breakthrough the barrier between instructor and student, to invite the students to participate in learning, and to not only help my students improve their knowledge, but also to improve my own skills as an educator. I look forward to interacting with, teaching, and learning from each student in my next class. Please feel free to contact me for more details.
I have been fortunate to conduct surveys around the world to observe and catch fishes. Some survey sites include:
I am also an avid angler and SCUBA diver, which has taken me to the freshwaters of the U.S. Great Lakes and saltwaters surrounding Australia and the Caribbean to search for fishes.
While a majority of the specimens I have played a role in collecting are housed in the Ichthyology Collection at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, I have played a role in the collection and identification of fishes at numerous institutions. Check out my Bionomia profile for more information.
Check out some of the photos below which were taken during recent fish-related travels.
Two Sharptail mola, Masturus lanceolatus, in a market
Hello from below
The coast of Hengchun Township
Our vessel for the trip, R/V Robert Gordon Sproul
Picking through fishes in Donggang Township
Honeycomb Cowfish, Acanthostracion polygonius
Sunset over the Pacific
Juvenile Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris
The take from a trawl
Hiding Graysby, Cephalopholis cruentata, at night
I truly enjoy taking photographs and trying a variety of imaging techniques to capture the best image I can. These images of cleared-and-double-stained specimens are some of my favorites. Images on a white background were taken under white or natural light and show the stained bones and cartilage of the specimens. Images on a black background were taken under royal blue light and show the autofluorescence of the red stain, as discussed by Smith et al. (2018). I have had the honor of my photos being featured by Nature as one of the best science images of the year in 2018, by National Geographic, and by the Bruce Museum in their exhibit Under the Skin (February 1–November 29, 2020). Please feel free to reach out to me about my methodology or any of my images.