I study the mechanics and evolution of how animals eat, by investigating the role of both head and body muscles in generating feeding motions. Currently, I am a BBSRC Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool studying 3D motion of the vertebrae and axial muscle dynamics in suction-feeding fishes.
My research focuses on the use of body muscles to power feeding in ray-finned fishes, and how this has influenced the evolution of suction feeding and morphology in these animals. To do this, I use visualization techniques—including light and x-ray video, 3D models, and computer animation—to record bone and muscle motion, combined with measurements of muscle function and physiology.
Whenever possible, I incorporate this research into my teaching of biology and human anatomy for undergraduate and medical students. I also seek out opportunities to use my work to engage grade-school students in biology research, and improve science education at all levels.