I study ecology and evolution of marine invertebrates.

I am interested in life cycle evolution.

And these are my favorite animals: the HYDROZOA (Cnidaria).

Current Projects

1. Genomics of Turritopsis dohrnii, “the immortal” jellyfish.

2. Barcoding of Panamanian Hydrozoa

3. Deep sea hydroids

4. Invasive hyrdozoans


Department of Biology,

University of Notre Dame,

Director, Minor in Sustainability

Some Collaborators

  1. 1.Cliff Cunningham, Duke University

  2. 2.Rachel Collin, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

  3. 3.Haris Lessios, STRI

  4. 4.Stefano Piraino, Universita’ di Lecce,

  5. 5.Evgeny Rogaev, UMASS Med School

  6. 6.Michael Pfrender, Notre Dame

My research



Bios 40322 Marine Biology

SUS 43000 Sustainability Capstone Seminar

Email Me
Curriculum Vitae


Address:Department of Biological Sciences

University of Notre Dame 

100 Galvin Life Sciences Center, Notre Dame, IN, 46556

Phone Numbers:574-631-5658 (office)

Current PositionResearch Assistant Professor and Director of Minor in Sustainability, University     of Notre Dame


2000-2005: Ph.D. - Duke University. Advisor: Cliff Cunningham.

1996: Bachelor Degree + M.Sc. equivalent in Biological Sciences - University of Lecce (Italy) - Final Grade 110/110 Summa cum Laude.

Professional Experience

2011- to date: Director, Minor in Sustainability: University of Notre Dame

2010 to date: Research Assistant Professor: University of Notre Dame

2008-2010: Postdoctoral Scholar: Pennsylvania State University, Charles Fisher’s laboratory.

2005-2007 Marine Science Network Postdoctoral Fellow: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama, Harilaos Lessios and Rachel Collin’s laboratories.


2012: Sus 43000 Sustainability Capstone Seminar, U. of Notre Dame

2011-to date: Bios 30422 Marine Biology, U. of Notre Dame.

2011: Bios 37361 -What Sustainability Means To Us, U. of Notre Dame.

2008-10: Bio 406 Symbiosis, Pennsylvania State University.

2009: Bio 417 Invertebrate Zoology; Pennsylvania State University.


2011- 13: Dean Odegard, Bradley Schroeder, Lauren Mach, Alyce Kanabrocki, (Undergraduate Students, U. of Notre Dame), and Andrew Guinan (High School Student).

2010: John Yu (Undergraduate Student, Pennsylvania State University)

2008-10: Dominique Cowart (Graduate Student, Pennsylvania State University).

2008: Meredith Cole Peterson (Undergraduate Student, Pennsylvania State University)

2007: Giovanni Gonzales (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).

2006-7: Currie Saray Dugas (Undergraduate Student, Brown University)

2005: Maria Rosaria Schirosi (Undergraduate Student, Universita’ di Lecce).

2001-2005: Leah McNally (Undergraduate Student, Duke University).

1999-2000: Undergraduate Science Advisor, Universita’ di Lecce.

Peer Reviewed Publications


Miglietta M.P, Faucci A. A worldwide phylogeny of the highly invasive species Pennaria disticha (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria). In Prep.

Haddad M.A., Lima Bettim A., Miglietta M.P. Description of Podocoryna loyola n. sp. (Hydrozoa, Hydractiniidae) of artificial substrata from South of Brazil. Under review, Zootaxa

Miglietta M.P., and Cunningham C.W. (2012) Evolution of life cycle, colony morphology and host-specificity in the Hydractiniidae (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria). Evolution 66(12) 3876–3901

Santini F., Miglietta M.P., Faucci A., (2012) Speciation: where are we now? An introduction to a special issue of  Evolutionary Biology on speciation. Evolutionary Biology 3(2) 141-147

Miglietta M.P., Faucci A., Santini F. (2011) Speciation in the Sea: Overview of the Symposium and Discussion of Future Directions. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51(3): 449-455

Miglietta M.P., Hourdez S., Cordes E., Cowad D. A., and Fisher C. (2010) Species boundaries of Gulf of Mexico vestimentiferans inferred from mitochondrial genes. Deep Sea Research II 57: 1916–1925.

Miglietta M.P, McNally L. and Cunningham C.W. (2010) – Evolution of Calcium Carbonate skeletons in the Hydractiniidae. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50 (3): 428-435.

Miglietta M.P., P. Schuchert and Cunningham C.W. (2009) Reconciling genealogical and morphological species in the Hydractiniidae (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa). Zoologica Scripta 38: 403–430.

Miglietta M.P., Lessios H. (2009) A Silent Invasion. Biological Invasions 11 (4): 825-834. This paper was featured on, The National Geographic News, NYT magazine, The Times, CNN International, Science & Vie (Magazine, France), MacLeans (Canada), and many others.

Collin R. and Miglietta M.P. (2008) Reversing opinions on Dollo's Law. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23 (11): 602-609.

Miglietta M.P., Rossi M., Collin R. (2008) - Hydromedusa Blooms with Upwelling Events in the Bay of Panama, Tropical East Pacific. Journal of Plankton Research 30(7):783-793– Journal Cover.

Cartwright P., Evans N, Dunn C.W., Marques A.C., Miglietta M.P., Schuchert P. and. Collins A.G. (2008) - Phylogenetics of Hydroidolina (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria). Journal of Marine Biological Association UK 88 (08): 1663-1672.

Boero F., Bouillon J., Gravili C., Miglietta M.P., Pearson T., Piraino S. (2008). Gelatinous Plankton: Irregularities rule the world (sometimes). Marine Ecology Progress Series 356: 299-310.

Denitto F., Miglietta M.P., Boero F. (2007) - Life cycle of Bougainvillia nana Hartlaub, 1911 (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa, Bougainvillidae) from Italy, with a discussion on the presence of the cosmopolitan Bougainvillia muscus in the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Marine Biological Association UK 87: 853-857.

Miglietta M.P., Piraino S., Kubota S., Schuchert P. (2007)- Species in the genus Turritopsis (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa), a molecular evaluation. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 45: (1), 11-19.

Miglietta M.P. (2006) - Hydractinia antonii sp. nov.: A New, Partially Calcified Hydractiniid (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa, Hydractiniidae) from Alaska. Journal of Marine Biological Association UK 86: 993-996.

Miglietta M.P., Kubota S. (2006) - Unique behaviors of the hydroids of Eugymnanthea  (Hydrozoa, Leptomedusae, Eirenidae) living in the mantle cavity of bivalves. Thalassia Salentina 29: 107-112.

Fraschetti S., Giangrande A., Terlizzi A., Miglietta M.P., Della Tommasa L., Boero F. (2002)  - Spatio-temporal variation of hydroids and polychaetes associated to Cystoseira amentacea (Fucales, Phaeophyceae): a regional scale approach. Marine Biology 140: 949-957.

Miglietta M.P., Della Tommasa L., Denitto F., Gravili C., Pagliara P., Boero F. (2000) - Approaches to hydromedusan ethology. In Trends in Hydrozoan Biology – IV - Scientia Marina 64 (1): 63-71.

Fraschetti S., Bianchi C.N., Boero F., Buia M.C., Della Tommasa L., Denitto F., Esposito L., Fanelli G., Giangrande A., Miglietta M.P., Morri C., Piraino S., Rubino F. (1999) – Human disturbance and biodiversity along the apulian coast. Biologia Marina Mediterranea 6 (1): 198-204.

Belmonte G., Costantini A., Denitto F., Della Tommasa L., Miglietta M.P., Onorato R., Poto M., Vetere M. (1999) – Indagine ecologica sulla Grotta sottomarina delle Corvine (Nardò, Lecce): dati preliminari. Biologia Marina Mediterranea 6 (1): 343-346.

Miglietta M.P., Della Tommasa L., Denitto F., Pagliara P., Gravili C. (1998) - Hydroids, hunting without moving. Biologia Marina Mediterranea 5 (1): 362-364.

Boero F., Gravili C., Denitto F., Miglietta M.P., Bouillon J. (1997) - The rediscovery of Codonorchis octaedrus, Hydroidomedusae, Anthomedusae, Pandeidae with an update of the Mediterranean hydromedusan biodiversity. Italian Journal of Zoology 64: 359-365.


Other Publications

Pederson J., Bullock R., Carlton J., Dyrynda P., Fisher R., Harris L., Hobbs N., Lambert G., Lazo-Wasem E., Mathieson A., Miglietta M.P., Smith J., Dijkstra J., Dobroski N., Tyrrell M., Smith J. (2003) Marine Invaders in the Northeast. Rapid assessment survey of the U.S. Northeast Coast -Non-native and native species of floating dock fouling communities from Maine through New York City - Report of the August 3-9, 2003 Survey. M.I.T. Sea Grant College Publication. 46 Pg.

Fraschetti S., Terlizzi A., Belmonte G., Fanelli G., Bussotti S., Pierri C., D’Ambrosio P., Miglietta M.P., Boero F. (2000) - Benthic communities of the Marine Reserve of Porto Cesareo, with an evaluation of their health status. Scientific report for the Dept. of Zoology, University of Lecce. 84 Pg.

Fanelli G., Fraschetti S., Miglietta M.P., Terlizzi A. (1999) - State of the marine communities offshore the protected area “Le Cesine” (Vernole, Lecce, Italy). Scientific report for the Dept. of Zoology, University of Lecce.

Fraschetti S., Terlizzi A, Fanelli G., Miglietta M.P., Belmonte G., Morri C., Bianchi C.N. (1999) - Biodiversity of the Ionic Coast of Salento. Scientific report for the Dept. of Zoology, University of Lecce commissioned by Province di Lecce. 101 Pg.

Belmonte G., Denitto F., Constantini A., Poto M., Onorato R., Della Tommasa L., Miglietta M.P. (1999) - Marine communities of the coast of the Porto Selvaggio Area (Lecce, Italy)”. Scientific report for the Dept. of Zoology, University of Lecce and Province of Lecce. 


Meetings & Presentations


March 2013 Texas A&M, Galveston

February 2013 CUNY (City University of New York), York College

January 2011 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Salt Lake City, Utah

October 2010 University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

March 2010 University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

June 2009 Evolution Meeting, Moscow, Idaho

Dec 2008 Ecology Seminar Series, The Pennsylvania State University – Invited seminar

Nov 2008 Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Coconut Island, Hawaii – Invited seminar

Oct 2008 Siboglinidae Workshop, Honolulu, Hawaii

June 2008 Evolution Meeting, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nov 2007 Smithsonian Marine Science Network Symposium, Washington, DC

Aug 2007 11th Meeting of the International Society of Invertebrate Reproduction and Development - STRI, Panama City, Panama

Jun 2007Punta Culebra Guides (STRI) monthly meeting - Panama – Invited seminar

Jan 2007 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Phoenix, AZ – Poster

Oct 2006 Fort Pierce Smithsonian Marine Station - Invited Seminar

Sept 2006 Italian Society for Evolutionary Biology, Florence, Italy - Two Oral Presentations, one as invited seminar at the Workshop “Inference and application of phylogenies”

Jun 2006Evolution Meeting, Stony Brook, NY

Mar. 2006 STRI (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) Mini Symposium, Panama City, Panama - Invited Presentation

May 2005 Duke University, Durham, NC - Final Dissertation Seminar

Jan 2005Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, San Diego, CA

Nov 2004 Duke University - Population Biology Seminar Series

Jul 2004 Evolution Meeting – Fort Collins, Colorado

Jan 2004 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, New Orleans, LA. Two Oral Presentations; one as invited presentation at the Symposium on Basal Metazoa organized by N. Blackstone

Jul 2003 ICCB/ISRs – Lawrence, Kansas

Jan 2003 Hydrozoan Society Meeting - Langeeban - South Africa

Grants & Awards

2011 - National Science Foundation, PI: Symposium “Speciation in the Sea”, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting, Salt lake City, Utah. 7,000$

- SICB divisions of Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Division of Developmental and Cell Biology, Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Division of Ecology and Evolution: Symposium “Speciation in the Sea” 1,000$

- American Microscopical Society: Symposium “Speciation in the Sea”

2005-7Smithsonian Marine Science Network postdoctoral fellowship, two years, research and salary, 86,000$

2006         Italian Society of Evolutionary Biology travel award, 1,000Euros

Membership in professional organizations

Society of Systematic Biology (SSB), Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Italian Society of Evolutionary Biology (ISEB), Hydrozoan Society.

Professional Service

Director of the Minor in Sustainability, University of Notre Dame (2010-to date). Current enrollment: 50 students.

NSF Evolutionary Ecology Panelist

Guest editor of Evolutionary Biology: special issue on speciation (Evolutionary Biology 3(2), 2012).

Organizer of the symposium “Speciation in the sea”, during 2011 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah. The symposium resulted in a special issue of the Integrative and Comparative Biology Journal.

Reviewer for the journals: Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Ecology, Functional Ecology, Journal of Plankton Research, Polar Biology, Marine Biology, Marine Biology Research, Zootaxa, Journal Marine Biological Association UK, Journal of Systematic Paleontology, Hydrobiologia, PLoS One, Zoomorphology.

Proposal Reviewer for: National Science Foundation (NSF) and The City University of NY (CUNY)

~ 500  sequences contribute to GenBank and ~400 sequences contributed to ABBA (All Bocas Barcode Alliance, Smithsonian Institute)

Contributing expert to Bocas del Toro on line taxonomic database

Field Work

Sept 2011Fort Pierce- Florida, USA. Collecting Turritopsis dohrnii.

Sept ’08 Gulf of Mexico – Collecting Deep Sea Cnidaria on Noaa ROV Expedition

Nov ‘05-Nov ’07 Atlantic (Boca del Toro) and Pacific (Las Perlas, Taboga, Tabougilla) coasts of Panama – Seasonal collection of Hydrozoa by SCUBA diving, snorkeling and plankton towing

February 2007 Coiba Island and North Pacific Panamanian Islands – 10 Days Cruise on Smithsonian boat Urraca. Sampling by SCUBA diving, dredging and trawling

Apr and Oct ’06 Fort Pierce - Florida, USA - Collection of Hydrozoa by snorkeling and plankton towing

Sept 2004Beaufort – North Carolina, USA - Collection of Hydrozoa by dredging and plankton towing

Aug 2003 Expert on hydrozoan taxonomy, the Rapid Assessment Survey for Invasive Species (RAS), along the East US Coast organized by J. Carlton (William - Mystic College) and J. Pederson (MIT)

Aug. 2003Iceland - Collection of Hydrozoa by SCUBA diving

Jan. 2003South Africa - Collection of Cnidaria by SCUBA diving

Oct. 2001WHOI – Massachusetts, USA– Collection of Hydrozoa by dredging

June-Aug 2001Japan - Collection of Cnidaria by SCUBA diving and dredging

Dec-Jan 2000/1New Zealand – Collection of Hydrozoa by SCUBA diving

Oct. 2000Beaufort – North Carolina, USA - Collection of Hydrozoa by dredging and plankton towing

1997-2000Italy – Biodiversity surveys by SCUBA diving along the Apulian coast and in marine caves



Italian: Mother Language.

English: Written: Very Good; Spoken: Fluent.

Spanish: Basic.


International diving licenses: “open water” (ANIS) (from 1995); “advanced”  (CMAS) (from 1999); Smithsonian Scientific diving license (2005-2008)


1.Dr. Clifford W. Cunningham  - Ph.D. Advisor

Dept. of Biology, Duke University

Durham NC 27708
Phone 919-660-7356


2.Dr. Harilaos A. Lessios  - Post Doctoral Advisor

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Balboa, Panama, Unit 948
APO AA 34002-9948
Phone +507 212-8708
Phone from the USA (domestic call): 703-487-3770 x 8708

3.Dr. Rachel Collin - Post Doctoral Advisor

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Balboa, Panama Unit 948
APO AA 34002-9948
Phone +507 212-8000


4.Dr. Charles Fisher- Post Doctoral Advisor

Department of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University

208 Mueller Lab., University Park, PA, 16802, USA

Phone: 814 865-3365