Current Postdoctoral Researchers

Justine Allen (Swartz Lab)

Lauren Alpert Sugden (Ramachandran Lab)

Christopher Anderson (Roberts Lab)

CV
Site
Google Scholar Page

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)

CV
Site

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)

CV
Fly Aging Research Page
Google Scholar Page

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)

CV
Google Scholar Page
Site

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)

CV
Lab Site

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.

Carolyn Eng (Roberts Lab)

CV
Google Scholar Page

I am interested in the influence of elastic connective tissues on the energetics and mechanics of muscle function. In my previous work, I explored the role of fascia in movement by studying its biaxial material properties and in vivo strain patterns. I used these data to incorporate the iliotibial band into a musculoskeletal model of the human lower limb to understand its role in human locomotion. With my postdoctoral research in the Roberts lab, I am exploring the role of aponeurosis in modulating muscle function. By modifying aponeurosis properties, I will directly examine the role of aponeurosis in modulating muscle shape changes and test how similar alterations occurring after surgical intervention or with injury, age, or disease influence the mechanics of muscle contraction.

Sarah Ivory (Sax Lab)

Website

I am interested in changes in tropical biodiversity and vegetation responses to climate in the past, present, and future.   I use fossil pollen records over thousands to millions of years in the past to look at changing species assemblages over time and better understand natural and anthropogenic controls on vegetation structure.  I also use ecological models to provide a quantitative framework for evaluating how future climate change is likely to affect tropical forests.  A better understanding of these forests, some of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, is crucial in order to inform conservation and management practices.  In combining fossil pollen based vegetation reconstructions and ecological models using current species maps, I can evaluate potential range changes and identify at-risk areas.

Nicolai Konow (Investigator, Swartz Lab)

CV
Google Scholar Page
Researchgate
Site

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.

Chintan Modi

I am interested in understanding the evolution of structure-function relationship of proteins. Specifically, I am working to understand how novel biochemical function evolves.  Currently I am studying the emergence of antibiotic resistance by asking how a novel ß-lactamase function evolved from penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs).  Part of this study also plans to understand the evolution of generalist vs. specialist ß-lactamases. To answer these questions I am plan to use directed evolution and ancestral reconstruction through statistical phylogenetic methods. I also remain interested in understanding the evolution of homo-oligomerization. Prior to join the Weinreich lab, I studied the evolutionary biochemistry of the GFP-family of proteins using resurrected ancestral fluorescent proteins. My research help elucidate the initial historical mutations needed to enable the evolution of novel biochemical step in emergence of red fluorescence in Kaede FPs and showed evolution of diverse homo oligomers from an ancestral monomer the hydrozoan FPs. 

Abigail Moore (Edwards Lab)

CV
Lab site

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)

CV

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)

CV
Google Scholar Page

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)

CV
Site
Google Scholar Page

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)

CV

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.

 

Diego Sustaita (Gatesy Lab)

CV

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.

Henry Tsai (Gatesy Lab)

Christopher Scott Wylie (Weinreich Lab)

CV
Lab Site

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)

CV
Google Scholar
Lab site

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)

CV

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)

CV
Site

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.