Research interests:

My central research focus is on biominerals – such as shells, bones and corals. My research can be considered in two broad themes:

1. Biominerals in the environment – ocean chemistry, climate proxies and ocean acidification

Specific projects within this theme:

-Meticulous assessment of the influence of temperature and Mg:Ca ratio on calcium carbonate (calcite or aragonite) polymorph formation.

-Calcification in Calcite Seas. PhD project of Caroline Miller. Funded by the American Chemical Society PRF-New Directions grant.

-Biominerals entrap a rich climate record that can be accessed via proxies of seawater temperature such as Mg:Ca, stable oxygen isotope composition (δ180) and clumped isotopes.

-Influence of ocean acidification on mussel shell formation and protein expression. Leverhulme-funded project with Nick Kamenos and Vernon Phoenix with Susan Fitzer as post-doc.‌

-MASTS Prize studentship of Penne Donohue with Nick Kamenos and Murray Roberts ) examining the influence of ocean acidification on red coralline algae.

-Rapid response sensing in marine carbonate systems. University of Glasgow Sensors PhD Scholarship with Val O’Shea and Nick Kamenos .

2. Biomimetics and biominerals in the realm of materials, bone therapies and stem cells

Specific projects within this theme:

-Functionalised, sticky proteins to direct biomineralisation and cell adhesion. Lord Kelvin Adam Smith PhD Scholarship of Vibhuti Deshai (with Brian Smith and Mathis Rhiele).

-Microfluidic fibre extrusion for bone replacement. BBSRC-funded project with Huabing Yin and Matt Dalby

-Stem cell metabolomics for bone therapies and tissue engineering. MRC funded with Matt Dalby, Nikolaj Gadegaard & Karl Burgess.

Career history:

Present: Dean of Natural Sciences – University of Stirling

Active research projects:

(Recent grants)

2013: MRC, Stem cell metabolomics for bone therapies and tissue engineering

Cusack, Dalby, Gadegaard & Burgess

2013: American Chemical Society, Calcification in calcite seas

Balthasar & Cusack

2012: BBSRC, Microfluidic fibre extrusion for bone replacement

Cusack, Yin & Dalby

Recent publications:

Cusack, M. (2016) Biomineral electron backscatter diffraction for palaeontology. Palaeontology, 59(2), pp. 171-179. (doi:10.1111/pala.12222)

Fitzer, S., Chung, P., Maccherozzi, F., Dhesi, S. S., Kamenos, N. A., Phoenix, V. R., and Cusack, M. (2016) Biomineral shell formation under ocean acidification: a shift from order to chaos. Scientific Reports, 6, 21076. (doi:10.1038/srep21076) (PMID:26876022)

Fitzer, S. C., Vittert, L., Bowman, A., Kamenos, N. A., Phoenix, V. R., and Cusack, M. (2015) Ocean acidification and temperature increase impacts mussel shell shape and thickness: problematic for protection? Ecology and Evolution, 5(21), pp. 4875-4884. (doi:10.1002/ece3.1756)

Immel, F., Gaspard, D., Marie, A., Guichard, N., Cusack, M., and Marin, F. (2015) Shell proteome of rhynchonelliform brachiopods. Journal of Structural Biology, 190(3), pp. 360-366. (doi:10.1016/j.jsb.2015.04.001) (PMID:25896726)

Balthasar, U., and Cusack, M. (2015) Aragonite-calcite seas–quantifying the gray area. Geology, 43(2), pp. 99-102. (doi:10.1130/G36293.1)