Associate Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology
Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology
Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health
Mechanical and evolutionary adaptations in the musculoskeletal system and communicating effectively with nonspecialists
The overall aims of my research program, very broadly articulated, are 1) to understand the principles of bone and muscle adaptation – the changes observed at the structural and tissue levels – to mechanical loading; and 2) to provide a mechanism for students to gain valuable, mentored research experiences. I have over 20 years of experience studying bone and muscle structure, mechanics, and adaptation using ex vivo and in vivo animal models, living and extinct. For the first 10 of these years, my focus was entirely on mechanical adaptation of mammalian bone and muscle to nuanced modes of locomotion (bipedal walking, knuckle-walking, quadrupedal running, etc.) in an evolutionary context. But when I arrived on the IUPUI campus in 2012, I committed myself to learning experimental and biomedical approaches to bone and muscle menchanics. Even though the research was more biomedically-oriented than my previous research, I saw immediate value in learning new techniques that would allow me to push my functional anatomy research in new directions. It also allowed me to see how easy it is to be misunderstood and misinterpreted when communicating with those who are not specialists in my area. I therefore committed to learning all I could about how to become more effective at communicating my research to a broader audience. The approaches we use to do this stem from applied improvisational theater techniques, and I have helped build a strong science communication emphasis here at IUPUI. This has become a secondary line of research for me.