My research interests are in palaeobiology and palaeoecology, focusing on the life history responses of extinct vertebrates to environmental change. Using the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction (PTME) as a model, I use a variety of techniques, including biostratigraphy, morphology and osteohistology, to test theories regarding differential species survival during mass extinctions. I have a special interest in osteohistology, the study of fossil bone microstructure, which provides novel information about the life history of the vertebrates associated with the PTME.
My PhD research (University of Cape Town, 2002) entailed the development and application of a variety of techniques used to assess the biology of extinct vertebrates, including osteohistology and stable isotope analysis, focusing on the palaeohistology of cynodont therapsids (the ancient ancestors of mammals). Thereafter, I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Iziko Museums of South Africa, during which time I focused largely on the biostratigraphy of the Permo-Triassic Karoo Basin. Since 2005, I have been head of the Karoo Palaeontology Department of the National Museum, Bloemfontein and Affiliated Researcher with the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of the Free State, where I have established a long-term research programme studying macro- and micro-skeletal structure, as well as spatial and temporal distributions of Permo-Triassic fossil vertebrates to gain a deeper understanding of the biotic crisis associated with the PTME.
I have presented or co-authored more than 30 conference presentations at both national conferences and abroad, published more than 35 articles in national and international scientific journals and am a B-rated scientist (National Research Foundation). Current research interests include the biology and ecology of Permo-Triassic vertebrates, the end-Permian mass extinction event and subsequent recovery, and the bone histology of fossil vertebrates.