I am a functional morphologist with a background rooted in physical anthropology and both human and comparative anatomy. Central to my role as an instructor is the use of digital imaging technology to visualize the human body at both the micro- and macroscopic levels.
While classic teaching methods such as dissection remain vital components of biomedical education, there is a wealth of opportunity to examine the human body more deeply through computer-aided investigation. Of particular interest to me is the impressive potential of imaging techniques such computer tomography (CT) to create both physical and virtual representations of anatomical elements. More recent techniques such as diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT) provide the means to visualize the nuance of soft-tissue architecture and therefore contribute to more realistic digital representations of the various systems of the body. Three-dimensional (3D) printed specimen provide the means to observe both healthy and pathological specimen without the need for potentially destructive dissection. 3D meshes created from scans serve an equally important role as teaching tools, and can prove invaluable to clinicians and researchers alike.
These technologies have proven invaluable to my ongoing research on the function of the long canines of saber-toothed cats in killing prey. I employ both physical and digital three-dimensional models created from scans of fossil specimen in simulated biting experiments. In this way, I attempt to observe the response to mechanical loading on the skulls, jaws, and teeth of animals not seen for millennia. Methodologies such as these have important implications to biomedical education as well as research, and open the door for student learning opportunities both in and outside of the dissection lab.