Professor (Evolutionary and functional morphology)
My research interests center on the functional morphology and evolution of behaviors that are key to individual survival, such as feeding and locomotion in vertebrates. I use the comparative approach to investigate how transformations in the morphology of a musculoskeletal system affect its function. More specifically, I study how changes in the jaw apparatus affect the feeding mechanism or how changes in limb morphology affect swimming behavior and how they have evolved through time. Most of my research has been on sharks and rays, a group possessing an amazing diversity of feeding and locomotory mechanisms despite its relatively low number of species compared to other vertebrate groups. My projects include such topics as: how does the pattern of jaw and head movements (kinematics) change among feeding behaviors in spiny dogfish (a shark)?; is muscle activity (motor pattern) altered among feeding behaviors in guitarfish (a ray)?; how does prey crushing behavior affect kinematics and motor pattern in bonnethead sharks?; when do changes in morphology of the upper jaw in sharks and rays change its function?; when do changes in the suspension of the jaws in sharks and rays affect jaw protrusion?; do the pectoral fins of sharks generate lift during steady swimming like the wings of airplanes they are modeled after?; what consequences do different pectoral fin types of sharks have on function during swimming? Additional information about research activities in my laboratory is available.
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA 1-401-874-1000
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