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Dickson, Kathryn A.

Professor of Biological Science

Biological Science

Office: 657-278-5266

Department: 657-278-3614



B.A. in zoology, Connecticut College; Ph.D. in marine biology, 1988, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. Full-time faculty member at CSUF since 1988; professor of biological science since August 1999; Department of Biological Science vice chair (2004-2010 and 2015-2017) and chair (2010-2015); secretary, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (2015-2018). Research Interests and Approach: Tunas, billfishes, the opah and some sharks are the only fishes known to use metabolically derived heat to maintain tissue temperatures elevated significantly above water temperature (regional endothermy). Our research addresses questions such as: How and why did regional endothermy evolve by convergence among these different fish groups? Does maintenance of elevated tissue temperatures increase fish performance? How and when does endothermy develop in tunas? In addition, we investigate swimming performance, metabolic biochemistry, and functional morphology in fishes. In the California grunion, we are studying mechanisms of hatching from the chorion (eggshell), characterizing material properties of the chorion, and studying effects of extended incubation on grunion larvae at and after hatching, as well as effects of environmental factors (variable sand temperatures, water acidification) on development and hatching success. These studies use such techniques as biochemical enzyme assays, immuno-histochemistry, electron, fluorescence and light microscopy, mitochondrial energetics, magnetic resonance imaging, swimming-tunnel respirometry, and high-speed videography and California grunion, California halibut, white seabass, green jack, chub mackerel, eastern Pacific bonito, several tuna species, opah, and mako, thresher, and blue and leopard sharks.

Areas of Knowledge:
  • Biochemistry (enzymology)
  • Biological Science
  • Marine Biology
  • Fish Physiology
  • Fish functional morphology
  • Tunas
  • Sharks
  • Endothermy in fishes
  • Swimming and muscle function
  • Physiology

  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Science