Current Postdoctoral Researchers

Christopher Anderson (Roberts Lab)

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I am interested in research questions aimed at understanding the morphological, biomechanical and physiological mechanisms underlying animal movement. In particular, I am interested in how these mechanisms change through evolution and vary across diverse natural environments. My previous research has focused on comparing environmental effects on the performance of elastic-recoil-powered and muscle-powered movements associated with high-powered ballistic feeding in chameleons and salamanders. Currently, my research focuses on muscle contractile physiology and biomechanics in Anolis lizards inhabiting different structural environments at different geographic locations. In addition to my research in the Roberts lab, I teach gross anatomy at the Brown Alpert Medical School.

Christopher Arellano (Roberts Lab)

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I have a broad interest in the biomechanics and energetics of both human and animal locomotion. In the Roberts laboratory, my research focuses on understanding muscle-tendon dynamics across an array of locomotor behaviors.

Hua Bai (Tatar Lab)

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My research interests include the molecular mechanism of aging (emphasizing the role of insulin pathway) and hormonal regulation of aging in Drosophila melanogaster.

Kyle Cavanaugh (Kellner Lab)

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I am interested in understanding how coastal ecosystems respond to climate variability and human development. My work to date has involved forests of giant kelp and mangroves. I combine remote sensing, field work (both on land and under the sea), and statistical modeling.

David Chatelet (Research Associate, Edwards Lab)

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I am a plant ecophysiologist/plant anatomist with a general interest in understanding the relations between structure and function in plants. My research has covered several fields of plant developmental and evolutionary biology. This includes the stress physiology and pathological anatomy of Pierce’s disease of grapevine, and the functional anatomy of grape berry, the ecological and functional anatomy of basal angiosperms. More recently, at Brown University, I am focusing on the evolution of leaf form and function in Viburnum(Adoxaceae) with an emphasis on the leaf photosynthetic anatomy. With Viburnum, I am also involved in a leaf phenological study along a latitudinal gradient in Asia to better understand the relationship between leaf form, leaf tooth/lobes and climate.

Jurriaan de Vos (Edwards Lab)

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My interests revolve around the ecology of plant reproduction and the evolutionary processes that emerge as a consequence, motivated by a desire to find explanations for the remarkable diversity of floral display and design that characterizes flowering plants. Hence, I integrate understanding of ecological and reproductive implications of variation in form and evolutionary patterns in deep time, unraveling trajectories of diversification and extinction using phylogenies. My current main project concerns whole-plant aspects of inflorescence diversification in Lewisia (Montiaceae).

Nuria Fernandez Gonzalez (Rich Lab)

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My research focuses on the impact of environmental factors and perturbations on microbial biodiversity, community structure and dynamics and ecosystem processes. I intend to better understand how microbial inhabitants of ecosystems respond to alterations, specially the ones that humans are responsible for, and if those changes affect the ecosystem functions and services. For that, I use molecular biology techniques on experimental manipulations and field observations. In the Rich lab I am working on the effects of nitrogen contamination on microbes from coastal sediments and the consequences for the biogeochemical functioning of the benthic community.

Galina Karashchuk (Senior Research Associate, Tatar Lab)

Nicolai Konow (Investigator, Swartz Lab)

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I take experimental approaches to understand the form, function and evolution of vertebrate feeding and locomotor systems. My early ecomorphological work explored ecological and evolutionary implications of new jaw joints, and even entire new jaw systems on fish feeding biomechanics. Currently, I measure rapid and powerful locomotor movements in birds and bats to probe questions about the functional outcome of having muscle contractions affect bone position via elastic tendon. These studies are revealing how tendon times the delivery of power to movement when a muscle shortens to function as a motor, and how tendon attenuates impact power when a muscle lengthens to function as a brake. In the future, I will leverage lessons from these muscle tendon unit studies to better understand food processing in vertebrates, including humans.

Rachel Menegaz (Brainerd Lab)

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I am a functional morphologist interested in the evolution and ontogeny of the mammalian feeding apparatus. My research investigates the influence of diet on musculoskeletal growth in the skull, with a focus on the link between the evolution of dietary niches and mammalian diversification. Additional research interests include functional and ontogenetic modularity in the mammalian skull, the ecomorphology of complex and variable diets, and the impact of major life history events such as weaning and tooth eruption on feeding behaviors.

Abigail Moore (Edwards Lab)

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I am interested in how plants adapt to their environment. I study this by looking at how traits and environmental tolerance evolved across the plant phylogeny and by looking for genetic evidence (e.g., bottlenecks, gene exchange) of how the plants reacted to environmental shifts.

Sabine Moritz (Brainerd Lab)

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I have always been interested in the interplay between skeleton and musculature. Right now I am using XROMM to explore the relationship between musculo-skeletal morphology and function in several non-mammalian amniotes.

Jim Mossman (Rand Lab)

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I am interested in how mitochondrial and nuclear genomes interact to mediate organismal fitness. Central foci of my research include: (i) mitochondrial genetic variation and male-specific traits (Frank and Hurst Hypothesis), (ii) G x G interactions (mtDNA-nDNA epistases), and (iii) G x G x E effects on phenotypic variation and gene expression. I currently use Drosophila to investigate these phenomena.

Julia Palacios (Ramachandran Lab)

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My main research area is statistical inference and modeling in evolutionary genomics. My motivating problem has been the estimation of population size trajectories from genomic data. I am currently working on inference of human population sizes from genetic data.

Yevgeniy "Eugene" Raynes (Weinreich Lab)

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I use experimental evolution and computer simulations to study evolution of the genomic mutation rate. During my PhD I studied the evolutionary dynamics of mutator alleles in experimental microbial populations, focusing on indirect selection experienced by mutators due to their associations with beneficial mutations. Currently, I am using computer simulations to examine the evolutionary dynamics of chromosomal instability during cancer progression.

Stefan Siebert (Dunn Lab)

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My research interests focus on the developmental biology and diversity of hydrozoans (Cnidaria). I'm particularly interested in the developmental complexity of siphonophores. These are animal colonies consisting of hundreds or thousands of bodies which together form an entity on a higher organizational level. The different bodies are generated in dedicated growth zones, they are clones, i.e. they share the same genetic background, and they show functional specialization to fulfill a particular task within the colony. By taking a closer look at how these colonies form we hope to enhance our understanding on how genes make particular phenotypes/bodies and how organisms can become more complex in the course of evolution.

Diego Sustaita (Gatesy Lab)

 

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I am interested in the functional morphology of feeding in predatory birds, and the role of performance as a link between an organism’s morphology and its ecology. Most recently I studied the biomechanical basis of predatory behavior in Loggerhead Shrikes. My current and future research is aimed at understanding potential trade-offs resulting from competing demands on avian foot morphology and function.

Christopher Scott Wylie (Weinreich Lab)

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I use a combination of theory and experiment to understand evolution as a quantitative, dynamical process.  During my PhD in theoretical biophysics, I applied mathematical methods from non-equilibrium statistical mechanics to study the evolution of mutation rate and recombination.  During a previous postdoctoral position, I used another area of physics—thermodynamics of protein folding—to predict the shape of fitness landscapes, i.e. the extent to which spontaneous new mutations alter fitness.  Currently, I am experimentally testing my earlier predictions, using the antibiotic resistance enzyme β-lactamase as a model system.

Felipe Zapata (Dunn Lab)

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I am an evolutionary and phylogenetic biologist.  I am broadly interested in evolutionary biology and my research over the years has focused on i) systematics and evolution of neotropical angiosperms, ii) molecular evolution of gene families underlying functional phenotypes, iii) quantitative approaches to species delimitation, in particular using morphological data, and iv) biodiversity informatics, especially regarding computational challenges in phylogenomics.  Currently, I am working on the development of pipelines for phylogenomic analyses using high throughput sequence data, and I am analyzing multiple data sets from different invertebrate clades to reconstruct their evolutionary histories.

Wenjing Zheng (Tatar Lab)

Lei Zhu (Rand Lab)

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Impact of mitochondrial mutations on aging, nutrient sensing, redox and energetic status. As well as the Genotype×mitochondrion×Environment interaction that modulates lifespan.

John Zinda (Sax Lab)

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I study processes of rural development and environmental change in China. I am particularly interested in how state-led projects aimed at natural resource conservation, agricultural intensification, and tourism development affect rural life and how members of rural communities respond. I use a variety of methodological tools  to understand interrelated patterns of rural politics, livelihood change, stratification, and land cover change.