"A general theory of evolution would be rooted in a hierarchical view of nature, and will possess a common body of causes and constraints, but will recognize that they work in characteristically different ways in the material of different levels. . . The new theory will restore to biology a concept of organism." - Stephen Jay Gould (1980).
My fundamental interests are in understanding the mechanisms that produce evolution within vertebrates. My research program is focused in two parts. Understanding the evolution of populations and species with a particular emphasis on understanding biogeographic range shifts and phenotypic evolution.
To study biogeography, I utilize a combination of GIS and specimen collection data, to analyze different environmental factors which may serve to limit species distributions. This data is then evaluated in a holistic framework which brings in organism traits such as metabolism, ecology, and phylogeny to understand species distributions, limits, and their evolution.
To study phenotype, I integrate developmental data along with empirical data from the extant and fossil records. Here my goal is to understand the potential range of phenotypes which can be expressed developmentally. And then to understand the realized range of phenotypes expressed within populations and species. This allows me to explore the overlapping and non-overlapping phenotypic-space occupied by populations or species to identify limits in overall phenotype and how those phenotypes have evolved.
My work in the Maga Lab is focused on developing new methodological techniques, tools, and anatomical atlases for rapid quantitative assessment of morphological variation in transgenic mice. Our overarching goal is to improve the quality and speed of data collection from µCT scanned specimens and to be able to apply statistical tools to evaluate variation quickly. A significant portion of my previous work has emphasized data collection and quantitative analysis of extant and fossil specimens using µCT data, my work in the Maga Lab expands on those skillsets by adding developmental (embryonic) specimens and data collection to that body of work.
Projects in Evolutionary Morphology:
Evolutionary and developmental constraints on morphological structure in rodent dentition.
Evolutionary and developmental constraints on the shape and structure of the inner-ear of tetrapods.
Evolutionary morphology and phylogenetic systematics of fossil and extant testudinoid turtles.
Projects in Biogeography:
Biogeographic distribution and population genetic structure of microtine rodents in North America.
Biogeographic distributions and ecological limitations of extant turtles.