My research interests are primarily in using the fossil record to study morphological adaptation. I am especially interested in studying large-scale patterns in the evolution of mammalian traits throughout the history of synapsids.
My Ph.D. project focuses on the evolution of the middle ear bones of mammals and the functional transition of these bones from part of the jaw hinge structure to a system for the transmission of sound vibrations. In order to understand how this functional transition occurred, I aim to test whether or not these bones were used for hearing in the extinct ancestors of mammals. I am doing this using several different approaches, including comparisons with modern functional analogues, using 3D morphometric data to characterize the variation in these bones across the Synapsida, and biomechanically modeling the sound-transmission capabilities of these bones.
I received my B.S. in Biology at the University of Oregon in 2012. During my undergraduate career, I did research in two labs: one focused on paleontology and one focused on development and population genetics. My experiences in both labs instilled in me a deep desire to foster collaboration between paleontologists and neontologists. I worked as an intern at the Field Museum in Chicago before coming to UW to earn my M.S. in Earth and Space Sciences. I am now pursuing my Ph.D. in Biology.