Nathan Thompson's research focuses largely on comparative biomechanics of locomotion and the evolution of locomotion in primates, apes, and humans. In particular, his research focuses on how musculoskeletal morphology is related to locomotor performance, and what differences in the musculoskeletal system in fossil apes and humans might mean for how our early ancestors moved and interacted with their environment. Thompson's previous work has shed light on the evolution of bipedalism in humans, and how features of bones, muscles, and organs in modern humans are related to efficient bipedal walking. His research draws heavily on experimental analysis of locomotion in living primates and apes using cutting-edge 3-D methods to quantify movement both in laboratory settings and in the wild.

Thompson received his Ph.D. in Anatomical Sciences from Stony Brook University in 2016, a master's degree in Biomedical Sciences from Stony Brook University in 2013, and a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering with a second major in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009.

Recent Projects/Research

  • Biomechanics of Bipedal Locomotion in Chimpanzees and Humans
  • The Mechanics and Evolution of Knuckle-Walking in African Apes
  • Semicircular Canal Morphology, Evolution, and Locomotion


  • Thompson NE, Demes B, O'Neill MC, Holowka NB, Larson SG. Surprising trunk rotational capabilities in chimpanzees and implications for bipedal walking proficiency in early hominins. Nature Communications. 6:8416, 2015.
  • O'Neill MC, Lee LF, Demes B, Thompson NE, Larson SG, Stern JT Jr., Umberger BR. Three-dimensional kinematics of the pelvis and hind limbs in chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and human bipedal walking. Journal of Human Evolution 86: 32–42, 2015.
  • Demes B, Thompson NE, O'Neill MC, Umberger BR. Center of mass mechanics of chimpanzee bipedal walking. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156(3): 422–433, 2015.
  • Thompson NE, Holowka NB, O'Neill MC, Larson SG. Brief communication: Cineradiographic analysis of the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) talonavicular and calcaneocuboid joints. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 154(4): 604–608, 2014.
  • Patel BA, Horner AM, Thompson NE, Barrett L, Henzi SP. Ontogenetic scaling of fore- and hindlimb posture in wild Chacma baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus). PLoS ONE 8(7): e71020, 2013.

Courses Taught at New York Tech

  • Gross Anatomy for Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine

Professional Honors & Awards

  • The American Association of Physical Anthropologists – The Mildred Trotter Prize for Exemplary Student Research, 2016
  • Stony Brook University Graduate Student Organization – Distinguished Travel Award, 2016
  • Stony Brook University – Norman Creel Prize for Outstanding Student Research, 2015
  • Stony Brook University – Kevin King/John Miller Travel Scholarship Award, 2013

Contact Info