Arizona State University
Sr Associate Dean and President's Professor
In my research life, I am a functional morphologist. Quite simply, I am fascinated by with how animals work. Functional Morphology is the study of organism structure (i.e., anatomy) and function (e.g., how it works in a particular context). Understanding the basic structure and function of organisms is one of the oldest areas of research pertaining to the natural world. And, it has never been more important to understand this within the context of how animals use their environment(s). We cannot begin to restore vital habitats or mitigate for habitat loss without knowing the essential features of the habitat that are necessary for a species to survive. We may not even select the right habitats to protect if we don't know the the features critical to ensuring that animals can feed, mate, and grow in a particular place. Those critical features are determined by how the animal work. What sort of substrate does a fish need to successfully extract food items from it. What sort of flow does a fish need to successfully spawn and create viable offspring. What sort of water clarity is needed to young fish to be safe from predation. Often, our best intentions do not actually provide what the animals require after millions of years of evolution have shaped and molded their morphologies.