My main research interests are in the evolution of mammals. Current projects include (1) the functional morphology and paleoecology of stem carnivoramorphans, the predecessors of modern carnivorans, (2) systematic paleontology of fossil carnivorans from the Tibetan Plateau, and (3) comparison of durophagy adaptations in diverse lineages of carnivorans.
My dissertation research has focused on the functional morphology and biomechanics of dogs (Canidae) and hyenas (Hyaenidae). I employ a range of methods and techniques to reconstruct and compare the paleobiology of extinct mammals to their living ecological vicars. The methods include geometric morphometrics analysis, 3D finite element analysis, enamel microstructure analysis, enamel microwear analysis, and paleontological fieldwork. My field research areas include the Neogene deposits of southern California, Inner Mongolia, and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in central Asia. I have worked on fossil mammals from other countries through international collaborations with colleagues in Mainland China, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, and Taiwan.
On the teaching side, I particularly enjoy using museum public programs to promote interest and participation in science. I have worked in K-12 settings at the Berkeley Natural History Museums and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Kids show the most interest when concepts are presented through hands-on activities. Natural history collections around the world all have this often untapped potential for self-discovered learning. I have also taught college-level laboratories in introductory biology, physiology, and ecology.