I study the evolution of the anatomy and biomechanics of the mammalian feeding apparatus, and most of my work is on primates. The main experimental project going on right now in the lab is an inter-specific study of the energetic costs of feeding in relation to morphology and diet in primates. We are looking at species that range in size from a 70g mouse lemur to 100kg humans and whose diets include frugivory, insectivory, herbivory, omnivory and specialized feeding strategies such as gnawing in aye-ayes. Our goals in measuring the costs of feeding behaviors is to learn about potential selection pressures on the feeding apparatus and to link biomechanics to ecology.
I am also developing the Feeding Experiments Enduser Database (FEED) to be an open access, online repository for raw data and associated metadata from physiological experiments on feeding behaviors in mammals and reptiles. FEED will include all kinds of data: EMGs, sonomicrometry, bone strain, bite force transducer, pressure transducer, and kinematics. Formal definitions of the muscles and behaviors that are referenced in the metadata are made through ontologies in an effort to contribute to the growing work on making different types of biological data searchable and linkable through ontological computer reasoning. The new online version of FEED will go “live” in January, 2015 and the prototype can be browsed at www.feedexp.org.
I teach human anatomy, craniodental comparative anatomy and physiology, and embryology.