Evolution and Development
We study the interplay between development and evolution to understand organismal diversity. "Evo-Devo" has experienced great advances in the last three decades with the revolutionary impact of developmental genetics, systematics, and, most recently, comparative genomics. As a result, Evo-Devo has become a thriving modern science at the interface of molecular developmental biology, genomics, systematics, and paleontology that seeks to understand the mechanisms and processes of evolutionary change.
The nervous system is amazingly sophisticated and versatile, allowing the organism to behave appropriately in novel situations, a versatility that far surpasses that of any artificialsystem yet devised. Using a variety of state-of-the-art molecular, neurophysiological, and behavioral techniques, we study how the brain processes sensory information and produces appropriate motor behaviors and investigate the interplay between sensory and motor processing. We also examine the development and evolutionary origins of the neocortex.
Biomechanics is the application of mechanical principles to the study of the forces acting on and within organisms. Our work is explicitly evolutionary: we use measurement and models of organismal morphology and behavior to study organismal design and performance in an evolutionary context.
We aim to understand past and present patterns of vertebrate biodiversity, to investigate factors that have shaped vertebrate evolution, to explore questions about extinctions and origins, changes in anatomy, function and development, biogeography and ecology. The astonishing record of fossil vertebrates is central to this research, and our primary data emerge from ongoing fieldwork as well as innovative use of existing collections. Of necessity, paleontology is interdisciplinary, and, in addition to widely recognized links with earth sciences, we also employ data and cutting-edge techniques from areas such as molecular systematics, developmental biology, biomechanics, biogeography, and theoretical ecology.