I am an evolutionary biologist and vertebrate paleontologist with research program focused on the auditory system of vertebrates, including fishes and human beings. My research interests span systematic interrelationships (phylogeny), functional anatomy, and structural changes related to hearing impairment. My research goal is to understand the mechanisms underlying normal functions of vertebrates, and the disorders and dysfunctions of human auditory structures, which may improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of auditory disorders.
Among organisms, there is a general correlation between form (anatomy) and function. I study the anatomical specializations for sound conduction and reception across vertebrate species. My evolutionary aspect of research is centered on: 1.) exploring the utility of anatomical features for estimating phylogeny, 2.) describing important fossil taxa to provide deep-time longitudinal data and 3.) conducting integrated phylogenetic analyses using anatomical features and molecular data. I use Otophysi fishes as a model system, including suckers, carps, zebrafish and catfish--all fish with specialized sound-conduction apparatus.
About one in eight people in U.S. (age 12 and older) have some degree of hearing loss in both ears. My clinical oriented research is focused on the anatomical changes of human auditory system with regard to ontogeny, aging, and degree of hearing loss. I use methods in both descriptive and quantitative anatomy, including computed tomography, 3-D modeling, and geometric morphometrics to understand the normal function, disease, and disorder of human auditory system. I also use zebrafish for experiments and computational simulations to test hypothesis on hearing loss .