Juan Liu PhD

Juan Liu

Juan Liu

Contact Information
Jacobs School, Rm 4209
955 Main St.
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: 716-829-3276
Fax: 716-829-2725

Professional Summary:

I am an evolutionary biologist and vertebrate paleontologist with a 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; this understanding may lead to improved 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. The evolutionary aspect of my 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 the U.S. (age 12 and older) has some degree of hearing loss in both ears. My clinically oriented research is focused on the anatomical changes of the human auditory system, with regard to ontogeny and aging and the 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 of human auditory system, along with its diseases and disorders. I also use zebrafish for experiments and computational simulations to test hypotheses on hearing loss.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Systematics and Evolution, University of Alberta (2016)
  • Research Associate, Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History (2016)
  • MS, Paleontology and Biostratigraphy, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2009)
  • BS, Biological Sciences, Anhui University (2005)


  • Assistant Professor, Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, University at Buffalo (2017-present)
  • Teaching & Research Assistant, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada (2009–2014)
  • Research Fellow, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (2009)

Research Expertise:

  • evolutionary biology: phylogeny, taxonomy, and fossil record
  • functional anatomy: anatomical structures and functions of auditory system
  • vertebrate paleontology

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • January 2018–December 2020
    External Cooperation Program
    Bureau of International Cooperation, China
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • July 2017–June 2020
    Open Grant
    State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy (China)
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2011–December 2012
    Open Grant
    Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2011–December 2011
    Richard Estes Memorial Grant
    Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2010–December 2011
    Research Grant
    University of Alberta
    Role: Principal Investigator

Journal Articles:

Professional Memberships:

  • American Society of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists (2018–present)
  • International Zebrafish Society (2018–present)
  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2010–present)
  • University of Alberta Palaeontological Society (2009–2013)
  • Chinese Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2006–2008)

Service Activities:

  • 2018 Medical Student Research Forum; judging abstract and posters for annual Medical Student Research Forum of Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; Judge (2018)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

Jacobs School, Rm 4209
955 Main St.
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: 716-829-3276
Fax: 716-829-2725