Research

Functional anatomy and muscle physiology constitute the broad themes of my research interests, particularly how tissue level traits impact the whole organism. I seek to broadly integrate anatomy (e.g., body shape, bone mechanical properties, muscle fiber type) with function (e.g., locomotor gait) and performance (e.g., VO2 max, muscle force production) across organizational levels. By measuring traits such as muscle activity, energetic cost of locomotion, gait, posture, and center of mass dynamics in model organisms I can integrate multiple levels of organization. My graduate work spanned a morphologically diverse array of taxa, including lungfish, ferrets, degus, guinea pigs, and rats. I investigated environmental determinants of locomotor performance, such as the effects of viscosity on the motor pattern and kinematics of swimming lungfish, and how the constraints of tunnels affect locomotor performance in a range of small mammals.

Currently I focus on small mammals to better understand the interaction of muscle and bone tissue mechanical properties on whole organism performance. I am interested in pursuing clinical disease and pathology models, as I believe these naturally occurring perturbations offer insight into basic musculoskeletal function, and conversely the wide array of techniques I have used in comparative studies can offer new perspectives to clinical studies. This creative intersection of comparative and clinical biology has the potential to further both fields, particularly in terms of methodological approaches and the use of novel organismal models. My postdoctoral work largely focused on tissue mechanical changes and locomotor performance as a function of age, a topic I continue to investigate actively now with funding from the NSF (Engineering Biomechanics and Mechanobiology division).