Feeding behavior and diet are two of the most important factors influencing the evolution of behavior and morphology in humans and nonhuman primates. Variation in such parameters as body size, life history, metabolic rate, and brain size, can all be linked to some extent to the ability of animals to acquire, process, and consume resources. Shifts in feeding behavior and diet also provide the evolutionary context for a variety of morphological changes in the jaws, face, and teeth. This is my area of research - the evolution of craniofacial form in humans and other primates as it relates to feeding behavior and the biomechanical demands of diet. I rely on a variety of primate models and methodological approaches to investigate the mechanisms that influence musculoskeletal form and function, and to link masticatory form and function with performance in living and extinct species. I collaborate extensively with other functional morphologists, experimental biologists, and primatologists and provide research and training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. In collaboration with Dr. Christopher Vinyard (NEOMED), we have been investigating the functional correlates of gape and muscle force production in primates (funded by the National Science Foundation BCS 0452160, BCS 0833394, BCS 0635649 and the National Skeletal Muscle Research Center R24-HD 050837-01). This work is informing our understanding of how jaw muscles are structured to meet the mechanical demands of diverse diets, how their bony and muscular systems function together, and how mechanical trade-offs are met. With Dr. Callum Ross (University of Chicago), we are currently investigating the scaling of primate feeding systems, integrating kinematic, morphological, and experimental approaches to test biomechanical models of the scaling of chew cycle during in primates (funded by the National Science Foundation BCS 0962677). In a related area of research, I am collaborating with colleagues in the DPT Program and in Pediatrics to investigate the effects of exercise on muscle fiber architecture and performance in a Pompe mouse model (Funded by the National Skeletal Muscle Research Center R24-HD050837).
Current Appointments & Affiliations
Education, Training & Certifications
University of Pittsburgh · 1992 Ph.D.