I’m Matt Girard, and I am an ichthyologist, or fish fanatic, that uses integrative approaches to answer questions about the evolution and biology of fishes. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Fishes at the National Museum of Natural History. I have broad training in bioinformatics, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, genomics, and phylogenetic methods and my research questions can be highly collaborative. Feel free to reach out via email to chat about current or future projects.
Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Honors, 2021
University of Kansas
B.S. in Biology with Ecology Emphasis, 2014
Loyola University Chicago
Relationships among Threadfins (Polynemidae)
Transitions across habitat types
Evolution of the Rovers, Redbaits, and Bonnetmouths
Larval morphology and biodiversity discovery
Anatomical and genetic evolution of Archerfishes (Toxotidae)
My research targets broad questions about the evolution of fishes and I use different data types, such as genotypic, phenotypic, spatial, or temporal, to inform our understanding of their biology and natural history. A few featured publications are listed here, with a more inclusive list linked above. If a PDF is not available through my site, feel free to contact me.
I strive to make science more approachable and provide all, but especially those from under-represented groups, opportunities to pursue their individual interests. With these opportunities, my goal is to develop interests into passions and career trajectories. I have been lucky enough to play a role in the education of more than 4,000 individuals in introductory-level biology courses and advanced courses in systematics and the history and diversity of life. A few examples of my in-class teaching style can be found on YouTube. As a first-generation academic, I was lucky to have exceptional mentorship from teaching assistants and senior researchers who taught me a great deal both in and out of the classroom. The support and opportunities outside of the classroom were tremendously important for my academics and life afterwards, and I aim to provide similar experiences for students I mentor. I have been fortunate to mentor student researchers at several institutions, with multiple developing into published research articles. Please contact me if you are interested in research opportunities. Explore my CV section for up-to-date information.
I have conducted surveys around the world to observe, catch, and learn about fishes. Survey sites have included:
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.
At sea aboard NOAAS Henry B. Bigelow
Two Sharptail mola, Masturus lanceolatus, in a market
Measuring huge Torpedo ray
Hello from below
Chatting with Anna and Ned Deloach
Our vessel for the trip, R/V *Robert Gordon Sproul*
Picking through fishes in Donggang Township
The take from a trawl
Pearly razorfish, Xyrichtys novacula
I feel the most creative behind the camera and trying new 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 shown by Smith et al. (2018) and in many of my publications. 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, NBC News, among other sources, and by the Bruce Museum in their exhibit Under the Skin (February 1–November 29, 2020). Feel free to reach out to me about my methodology or any of my images.