Body plan evolution and development in jawed vertebrates
My research spans a wide range of systems and questions, but all of these center on the evolution and development of the body plan in jawed vertebrates. I use a combination of developmental biology, comparative anatomy, and paleontology to gain a comprehensive understanding of the patterns and processes that contribute to the diversity of vertebrates alive today.
Vertebral development and segmentation in chondrichthyans
As the outgroup to all other jawed vertebrates, data from chondrichthyans help to identify primitive and derived morphological and developmental features of the axial skeleton. I use the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) as a cartilaginous fish model for vertebral development. To study vertebral development in the skate I perform dye labeling experiments to track cell migration, study gene expression patterns, and use microCT scans to visualize embryonic morphology.
Vertebral column evolution in fossil and living fishes
I study the skeletons of fossil and living fishes to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the vertebral column. My current work includes collecting three dimensional data from CT scans of extinct and extant fishes and quantifying their vertebral shape to identify evolutionary patterns of regionalization and complexity across the vertebrate tree.