Research

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We focus on great transitions in the history of vertebrates. In the field and in the lab, we use the geological record of life to guide questions about major transformations across Vertebrata, especially at the origins of extant radiations such as (but not limited to) birds, mammals, tetrapods, and gnathostomes. To address the nature and mechanism of pivotal events at crucial points in evolutionary history, we bring to bear a full range of modern biological and geological techniques, especially molecular developmental biology and functional biology, coupled with advanced three-dimensional imaging and geometric analysis. However we maintain a surpassing commitment to the discovery of new fossils in the field; these will always be the inspiration, the grist, and the final validating test for work on the history of life.

We operate at the core of the immensely rich paleontological research, teaching, and curatorial community at Yale and are prepared to support promising research across the entire chordate radiation and at any timescale. Yale’s paleontology, geobiology, and biology faculty and staff, spread across several departments, collectively have the resources and expertise to guide students and other researchers in work on all parts of the vertebrate tree. We are also interested in more fundamental questions of vertebrate development from a molecular developmental and genomic perspective, particular regarding structures and functions of biomedical and evolutionary significance.

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Our laboratory spaces include a complete molecular developmental lab with cell-culture facilities, permitting the full range of modern developmental biology investigations on model and non-model vertebrates. Yale additionally has a state-of-the-art high-resolution CT scanning facility to which we have full access. We add to these Yale’s traditional strengths in the form of the staff and collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, among them the third-largest paleontology collection in the nation, and consistent annual endowed support and a small fleet of vehicles for several paleontological field programs, including multiple yearly expeditions focused on vertebrates, virtually unparalleled among university-based paleontology programs. Students and staff have a great deal of say in the places and strata we explore each year.