Research: Anatomy

Take your education from the classroom into the research lab. Working side by side with our expert faculty you’ll:

  • Work in collaborative, team-focused environments.
  • Identify your areas of interest under the guidance of faculty mentors.
  • Develop critical thinking, problem solving, and presentation skills.
  • Foster inter- and cross-disciplinary approaches.
  • Gain professional experiences that will advance your career as a researcher.

Research Projects

Our regionally-, nationally-, and internationally-recognized faculty are working on cutting-edge research projects covering the breadth of the biological and biomedical sciences. Current faculty research interests include:


Aquatic Vertebrate Tissues and Their Interaction with the Environment

Studies convergence in the vertebrate transition from terrestrial to aquatic (especially with Desmostylia, Sirenia, and Cetacea), with emphasis on studies of tooth wear, comparative anatomy and histology, radiological methods, and materials science.

Primary investigator: Brian L. Beatty, Ph.D.


Adaptation and Evolution of the Mammalian Skull

Studies adaptations in hearing, vocalization, and respiration using both living and fossil species. To better understand the limits of mammalian adaptations, we are currently using cetacean models (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), which have colonized and thrived in extreme aquatic environments. This primary work is bolstered by our ongoing efforts to resolve the mammalian family tree with anatomical and genetic data. See additional information.

Primary investigator: Jonathan Geisler, Ph.D.


Evolution of Early Mammals

Studies how key mammalian features such as a keen sense of smell, enlarged brain size, and high frequency hearing developed. Current projects focus on the description of new fossil mammals from Madagascar, the evolution of the inner ear of early mammals, and morphology and genetics of the vomeronasal organ in extant vertebrates.

Principal investigator: Simone Hoffmann, Ph.D.


Comparative Ecomorphology and Evolutionary Paleoecology

Studies convergent evolution and how environmental change influences the evolution of recurring anatomical systems. Current projects include investigations into the evolution and functional morphology of limbs and joints. Also looks at dental wear to understand the role of dietary change in the evolution of mammalian dentitions.

Primary investigator: Matthew Mihlbachler, Ph.D.


Evolution of Ruminants

Studies the evolution of the diet and anatomy of ruminants. Projects include the evolution of the giraffe neck; the evolution of the skull; and methods of dietary interpretations.

Principal Investigator: Nikos Solounias, Ph.D.


The Evolution of Human and Primate Locomotion

Studies how biomechanical differences between human and primate locomotion are related to differences in muscle and bone morphology. The goal is to be able to identify those bony features which can be used to infer locomotion in fossil primates, including our early human ancestors.

Principal Investigator: Nathan E. Thompson, Ph.D.