My research project at the Smithsonian Institution focuses on ancient relatives of modern reptiles as a system to address questions of diversification. The early ancestors of turtles, lizards, crocodylians, and dinosaurs all underwent their initial evolution before, during, and after the end-Permian mass extinction: the largest known biotic crisis, in which 90% of species disappear from the fossil record ~252 million years ago. The early history of these extant reptile groups offers not only a window into the initial evolution of some of the most successful vertebrate groups in Earth’s history, but also the response of a vertebrate group to abiotic crises.
Ph.D. Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University 2015
B.A. Biology, McDaniel College 2009
As a vertebrate biologist, I connect information from modern organisms and the fossil record to inform questions about the evolution of anatomy and biodiversity in deep time. I use advanced imaging and modeling techniques, phylogenetic methods, paleontological fieldwork, and museum collections studies of fossil and modern vertebrates to develop an understanding of major events in the history of life.