I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the origin of modern tetrapods (four-legged vertebrates). This major transition in animal evolution was accomplished through numerous parallel adaptations for life on land and allowed for the formation of animal ecosystems we are familiar with today. These adaptations included new structures that allowed early tetrapods to feed, breathe, and walk on land, as well as new life cycles which allowed them to sever their connection to water.
My research has focused on three main questions. How were early tetrapods related to each other and to modern tetrapod lineages? How did changes in gene regulation in early tetrapods and early amphibians help produce their new structures and life cycles? How did these innovations in early tetrapods shape early terrestrial communities? I address these questions using a combination of approaches, including comparative anatomy, paleobiology, and developmental biology. I am especially passionate about using modern imaging techniques, such as micro-CT, to better understand the fine details of anatomy in 3D. I also organize paleontology fieldwork across the Rocky Mountain West, where I can combine my interest in ancient life with my love of mountains.