I am currently a postdoc at the University of Idaho. I received my PhD in biology with advisor Luke Harmon in 2013. My dissertation focused on the biomechancis, diversity, and ecology of geckos, with an emphases on their adhesive toe pads. I am currently working with Matt Riley in the Mechanical Engineering department and Parviz Soroushian from the civil engineering department at Michigan State University funded by a BEACON (Center for the Study of Evolution in Action) grant. We are working to develop novel imaging and simulation tools to better understand how the diversity in adhesive morphology across geckos and anoles is related to their performance and ecology.
At a broad scale I am interested in understanding why animals are shaped the way they are. To do this, I borrow techniques from many different fields including engineering, phylogenetics, and ecology. I specifically focus on how differences in adhesive morphology, at both the macro and micro scale, affect adhesive performance and microhabitat in padded lizards like geckos and anoles. This research will let us gain a better understanding of how evolution has driven changes in these animal's morphology and what they do in the wild. In addition, there are many exciting lessons we can learn and apply to the design of synthetic materials mimicking the shapes and processes we see in nature.
This website was last updated November 2013
My research involves collecting data from many sources including preserved museum specimens, using live animals during laboratory experiments, and field observations. I also use many different techniques such as scanning electron microscopy, micro-computed tomography, and finite element analyses. I sometimes have to design my own equipment.