Mailing address: PO Box 208109, New Haven CT 06520-8109
Street address: 210 Whitney Ave., New Haven CT 06511
I am enchanted by biological morphology, where observation of the immediate and tangible beauty of physical form can ignite a journey of fascination that stretches across millions of years of time and scales from organisms in their environment to the genetic cascade of signals guiding development.
My research is focused on the evolution and specialization of facial muscles in mammals. Facial muscles control the delicate movement of touch-sensitive whiskers, make ears mobile, and shape the landscape of the face to communicate expression – all key features of mammals. But these muscles can also be variously adapted, perhaps to no more extreme end than in the exquisitely mobile trunk of the elephant. Muscular nasal probosces reoccur throughout the mammalian tree – e.g., elephants, elephant shrews (sengis), aardvarks, saiga antelopes, solenodon, tapirs – making this a rich morphological phenomenon for comparative study.
The approach I am using to explore the evolutionary origins of facial muscle and the specialization of facial muscle into mobile probosces (especially in Afrotheria) is a collaborative integration of paleontology, developmental biology, comparative anatomy, and functional anatomy.
Swarthmore College, B.A. Biology, 2004
Harvard University, M.L.A. Museum Studies, 2012