Milestones

  • 10/27/16 - Paper published in Royal Society Open Science
  • 09/14/16 - Paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, B.
  • 01/18/16 - Joined Roberts lab
  • 11/23/15 - Defended Dissertation
  • 07/21/15 - Paper published in Journal of Morphology
  • 05/23/15 - Awarded NSF Postdoc Fellowship
  • 02/05/15 - Paper published in Computational Measurements and Experimental Methods
  • 08/25/14 - Presented at Southern Regional SICB
  • 04/23/14 - Paper published in Evolution.
  • 01/24/14 - Passed Prelims at Duke!

About me

I first became interested in biomechanics because of archery. In my undergraduate career, I was fascinated by how competitive archers study and master the interaction of body and tools. There are many things that an archer can change about their posture and/or equipment in order to increase the effectiveness of a shot: using lighter arrows increases distance while sacrificing stability, rotating the hips a few inches outward increases balance while reducing power, and so on. Improvements in one area often caused detriments in others, and I was soon obsessed with optimizing the entire shot process.

It was around this time that I met my Ph.D. advisor, Sheila Patek, and learned about mantis shrimp, and their amazing ability to store elastic energy. I was amazed that the appendage of this crustacean, tiny in comparison to my bow, could move its limbs with higher acceleration through water than I could move my arrows through air. That was the moment I realized, "wow, there are a lot of things that we can learn from other organisms."

Since then, I've studied many systems (mantis shrimp, bullfrogs, grasshoppers, rats) to improve my understanding of the mechanics of how biological springs store energy in the context of dynamic movements. My approaches include materials testing, 3dimensional visualization, and computer simulation to capture the fundamental principles of energy storage. I'm currently an NSF postdoctoral fellow in Tom Roberts' lab at Brown University testing hypotheses of tendon dynamics on energy storage and dissipation.

Computation and biology

The most important contributions I try to make at every institution I inhabit are training and support in computational endeavors. I learned most of what I know about programming through self-study and soon decided that I would make my knowledge openly available to my peers. Many of my colleagues wanted to use computation for analysis or simulation, but had no idea how to begin. This is what drove me to create SOURCE (studying, originating, and understanding R code examples), a study group focused on helping each other with statistical problems and computer programming. While working with SOURCE, I've been able to create introductory R classes, produce a computer-intensive biomechanics lab manual, and be involved in multiple consultations and collaborations. I'm currently working on a series of video tutorials on scientific computing for biologists that can be accessed from anywhere on the internet.