Lindsey Dougherty


Dr. Lindsey Dougherty grew up in land-locked Colorado, so her childhood aspirations naturally centered around scuba diving. Lindsey finished her post-doctoral research at the University of Colorado and is currently an instructor there. She holds a PhD in integrative biology from the University of California Berkeley. She was a scuba instructor in Zanzibar, has worked for multiple dive shops, writes popular science articles, and is an avid underwater photographer. She has over 3000 dives and is currently an AAUS scientific diver.


During her undergraduate career, Lindsey studied artificial coral reef systems in Lembeh Straight, Sulawesi (Indonesia). Her PhD research is centered around the “disco” clam, which is the only bivalve that has a flashing light display. She studied how the display works using microscopy, high-speed video, spectrometry, and particle modeling. She also researched the behavioral reason behind the flashing, which she hypothesizes is to warn off predators. Her post-doctoral research aims to identify the toxins that the disco clam’s flashing is advertising. Much like the blue-ring octopus, bright displays often warn that the animal is distasteful, or even poisonous.


Lindsey is also working to understand the extended family (file clams) of the disco clam, including many Caribbean species that are also brightly colored and distasteful. One species in the genus Limaria is very interesting, as it can detach its tentacles, which get stuck on predators and release a noxious chemical. Her work also aims to understand the ecology, development, distribution, and relatedness of the family, as they are popular in the aquarium trade.

Having worked, studied, dived, and traveled in nearly 40 countries, Lindsey is perpetually jet-lagged, yet has unabated wanderlust. Her first scientific love will always be the "disco clam".


Don’t miss diving with Lindsey this October, where she will instruct us on surveying techniques and methods to identify varied bivalves—those interesting “hinged” animals found in crevices and along our dramatic wall dives: clams, scallops and more.  Tent Wall is probably our most likely destination.