Paleontology, paleoecology and taxonomy. Specific research questions include:
All science should strive to describe the world as accurately as possible. Using quantitative measurements and statistics to describe individual specimens and assemblages makes them easier to compare. What standards can be created to assure the most straightforward comparisons? What statistical methods are most appropriate in each situation?
Fossil Species Concepts
Although taxonomy of recent organisms can rely increasingly on molecular data, most fossil species are described and distinguished on the basis of morphology alone. Unfortunately both modern and fossil groups differ in the amount of morphological variation contained in each species. Can comparison of morphological variation in both modern and fossil groups (at the Family or Genus level) help determine the accuracy and number of species in the fossil record?
I am interested in most fossil groups and am willing to tackle any of them to answer the questions posed above.
My Master’s project dealt with determining morphological variation between poorly preserved molluscan fossils from a freshwater lake deposit in the lower Ludlow Member of the Fort Union Formation of Cretaceous age (see Publications). I have also participated in modern freshwater mussel surveys in the Adirondacks of New York State.
My undergraduate honor’s thesis described a bedding-plane exposure of multiple Protichnites in terms of paleoecology and comparitive morphology. I am currently working on a morphological method of identification of Protichnites to the species level; this work was presented in May 2007 (see Publications).