PhD Dissertation Research

Currently, my research focuses on the dynamic arthrology of archosaurs (birds, crocodiles, and their extinct relatives such as non-avian dinosaurs and pterosaurs). I also develop new methods for use with X-Ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM), a 3-D imaging technology that allows precise and accurate visualizations of skeletal motion.

ROM mapping of ligamentous constraints on avian hip mobility: implications for extinct ornithodirans

My first paper was published 23 May 2018 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It presents a new approach for quantifying and comparing joint mobilities, and discusses how to apply ROM data from extant animals to extinct animals. You can find a summary from Brown’s press office here, and a discussion on the Parsing Science podcast here.

A coordinate-system-independent method for comparing joint rotational mobilities

A new method that enables accurate, distortion-free computations of 3-D joint mobility was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology on 28 September 2020.

A practical guide to measuring ex vivo joint mobility using XROMM

My best practices protocol for measuring range of motion from cadavers using biplanar fluoroscopy was published open-access in Integrative Organismal Biology on 12 November 2020.

A new role for joint mobility in reconstructing vertebrate locomotor evolution

My work examining the relationship between full joint mobility and the poses used during steady forward locomotion in bird and alligator hindlimbs was published open-access in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 8 February 2021. You can find a summary from Brown’s press office here.

Coming Soon

Keep an eye out for more on archosaur joints, coming soon!


I also have several ongoing collaborations exploring other aspects of functional morphology.

Rolling of the jaw is essential for mammalian chewing and tribosphenic molar function

My work on tribosphenic molar function, co-first-authored with Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, was published 13 February 2019 in Nature. You can find a summary from Yale’s press office here.


Reply to: Jaw roll and jaw yaw in early mammals

We also replied to Matters Arising from this paper on 17 June 2020.


Intra-oropharyngeal food transport and swallowing in white-spotted bamboo sharks

I contributed to a paper on bamboo shark food transport and swallowing, led by mentee Noraly van Meer (currently a PhD candidate at Wageningen University), published 22 November 2019 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Bamboo Shark Swallowing XROMM

Contrast‐enhanced XROMM reveals in vivo soft tissue interactions in the hip of Alligator mississippiensis

I contributed to a contrast-enhanced XROMM-based paper on interactions among alligator hip joint soft tissues, led by Henry Tsai, published 13 January 2020 in the Journal of Anatomy.


An XROMM Study of Food Transport and Swallowing in Channel Catfish

I contributed to a paper using XROMM to track the motions of both skull bones and prey in the channel catfish, led by Hannah Weller, published 19 June 2020 in Integrative Organismal Biology.

Annotated Catfish Swallowing X-Ray

Integrating XMALab and DeepLabCut for high-throughput XROMM

I contributed to a paper testing the effectiveness of integrating XMALab and DeepLabCut for XROMM marker tracking in different data sets, led by JD Laurence-Chasen, published 4 September 2020 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Integrated XMALab and DeepLabCut workflow for marker tracking. (A) The user begins by tracking approximately 200–500 frames from the dataset in XMALab. (B) Those frames serve as the training dataset for a deep neural network trained with DeepLabCut. (C) This network can then predict 2D points for new trials. (D) The predicted points are imported back into XMALab and measures of tracking quality (e.g. reprojection and rigid body error) are used to determine whether the project-specific performance criteria are met. (E) If errors are too high, selected frames can be corrected, added to the training dataset, and steps B–D repeated. (F) Once performance is acceptable, the user corrects any remaining errors in XMALab, and can export the data (3D points and rigid body transformations) for analysis. Asterisks indicate that the step is performed by an XROMM_DLCTools function.

Coming Soon

Keep an eye out for our upcoming work on reconstructing the locomotion of the early tetrapod Eryops, led by Eva Herbst, on the biomechanical role of the tendon of Sutton, led by James Napoli, and on standards for measuring joint angles in archosaurs, led by Steve Gatesy … plus more on joints with the Nyakatura Lab!


My previous research experiences include work on insect self-righting in the Poly-PEDAL Lab, morphological integration at the Field Museum, and feeding biomechanics at the University of California Museum of Paleontology. See my CV for more info.