Paul J. Schaeffer

Paul SchaefferAssociate Professor

288 Pearson Hall
Schaeffer Lab Website

Biographical Information

The primary focus of the Schaeffer lab is the study of muscle plasticity and its implications in organismal energy balance. Experimental approaches range from cell and molecular studies to measurements of physiological activity in the field. This very broad interest can best be divided into several specific research programs.

One of these programs is to utilize the tools of molecular biology to investigate the roles of specific regulatory factors in the control of muscle phenotype in response to environmental challenges including external temperature, obesity, and inactivity. Muscle phenotypic plasticity is important in the maintenance of normal metabolic regulation, best demonstrated by the loss of this trait in metabolic diseases such as the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. We study the interaction of activity and energetic demand in the regulation and maintenance of cardiac and skeletal muscle function using several model systems.

Another program utilizes comparative physiology in an attempt to delineate the ways in which evolution has shaped energetic physiology in order to identify the common “design principles” or constraints that operate on animals in general. Much is known about the physiological responses of animals to alterations in activity or demand. Current approaches include studies of avian migration, and muscle & thermal physiology of reptiles.

Finally, the advent of micro data loggers has permitted the measurement of physiological parameters including body temperature, animal activity and heart rates from free-living animals. We study life history physiology, animal-environment interactions and movement ecophysiology of several species using these approaches.

Courses Taught

  • BIO 305: Human Physiology
  • BIO 400: Capstone in Biology: Locomotion
  • BIO 453: Animal Physiological Ecology
  • BIO 710: graduate seminars on various topics

Selected Publications

  • Mineo* PM, Schaeffer PJ. The thermal plasticity of locomotor performance has diverged between northern and southern populations of the eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens). J Comp Physiol B, 185: 103-110, 2015
  • Schaeffer PJ, Komer MC, Corder* KR. Energy savings due to the use of shallow body temperature reduction in overwintering Northern Cardinals. Anim Biotelemetry, 3: 34, 2015.
  • Callahan* ZJ, Oxendine M, Wheatley JL, Menke C, Cassell EA, Bartos A, Geiger PC, Schaeffer PJ. Compensatory responses of the insulin signaling pathway restore muscle glucose uptake following long-term inactivity. Physiol Rep, 3: e12359, 2015.
  • Corder* KR, DeMoranville* KJ, Russell DR, Huss JM, Schaeffer PJ. Annual life-stage regulation of lipid metabolism and storage by PPARs in the migrant species gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis). J Exp Biol, 219: 3391-3398, 2016.
  • Parlin* AF, Nardone J, Kelly Dougherty J, Rebein M, Safi K, Schaeffer PJ. Activity and movement of free-living box turtles are largely independent of ambient and thermal conditions. Move Ecol, 6: 12, 2018.