I am a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Oral Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, University of British Columbia.
My research is focused on the evolution and development of dentitions in modern and extinct animals. Teeth are a key feature in the evolutionary history of vertebrates. As dentitions have been evolving for over 400 million years and fossilize very well, they are often the only glimpses we have into the diversity and ecology of extinct organisms, as tooth shape is a good indicator of diet and ecological niche. Animals occupying different roles in food webs show differences in tooth shape, tooth number, tooth attachment style, and tooth replacement patterning, the mechanisms of which are still not fully understood. My main research questions are: 1) how do differences in tooth shape arise over developmental and evolutionary timescales; and 2) what can teeth tell us about past ecosystems?
I answer these questions through analysis of fossil material and living animals, mainly reptiles, which are used as a model to understand processes that we can no longer observe in extinct animals. Fossils are examined using CT scans, histology, and quantitative analyses, and placed into the proper stratigraphic context to understand how differences and similarities between animals arise over evolutionary timescales. My past research includes Early Permian ecosystems, sphenacodontids, ichnology, palaeobotany, ontogeny, hadrosaurs, and histology.