My research focuses on the evolution and function of specialized morphologies and how these specializations allow organisms to invade and exploit new niches. I use physics and engineering principals applied to biological systems to answer questions about the evolution and function of organisms, and study both extinct and extant taxa to understand how these morphologies change over time.
The main body of my research to date has been concerned with understanding 1) the extent to which generalized morphologies need to be specialized in order to effectively exploit a new niche, and 2) how the function and anatomy of similar structures in disparate taxa can be better understood through comparison, especially in the case of secondary adaptations.
I received my PhD from the University of Washington, where I split my time between the main Seattle campus and the Friday Harbor Marine Labs campus on San Juan Island. Following my PhD, I worked with Dr. Brooke Flammang as a post-doctoral research associate at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where we studied caudal fin morphology in extinct marine reptiles and sharks. I am currently a post-doc in the Anderson lab at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, researching the functional morphology of biological puncturing tools.