Principal Investigator

Tim Higham

BSc: University of Calgary (2000)

MS: University of Cincinnati (2003)

Ph.D.: University of California, Davis (2006)

Postdoc: Harvard University (2006 - 2008)

Graduate Students

Emily Naylor
Graduate Student (PhD)
Starting August, 2015
Emily was an undergraduate at Ohio University


My research interests center on how morphology functions in natural settings and responds to various pressures, namely in tetrapods. Integrating form, function, behavior, and ecology, I aim to explore phenotypic diversity with a combination of fieldwork and lab-based approaches. I thereby hope to achieve a more holistic understanding of how an organism and its morphology succeed in a particular environment.


Jessica Tingle
Graduate Student (PhD)
Starting August, 2015
Jess was an undergrad at Cornell University,

Ecosystems around the world have produced assemblages of animals resembling each other very closely in their adaptations to environmental difficulties. The questions that arise concerning these systems drive my desire to study them scientifically. As a graduate student at UC Riverside, I will delve into the biomechanics and evolution of limbless locomotion, perhaps focusing on several species of sidewinding vipers found in deserts of North America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Click HERE for Jessica's website

Kathleen Foster
Graduate Student (PhD)
since August, 2010
Kathleen was an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia


I study the biomechanical and physiological processes underlying movement of vertebrates with the aim of understanding how organisms meet the diverse functional demands of locomotion in their environment. Specifically, my current research combines several in vivo and in situ techniques in an effort to understand how organisms alter muscle function to perform such a variety of activities.


Click HERE for Kathleen's website

Kevin Jagnandan
Graduate Student (PhD)
Since August, 2012
Kevin finished his MS at Hofstra University (Adviser: Chris Sanford)

Animals often exhibit remarkable adaptations for capturing prey, escaping predators, attracting mates, and occupying habitats. In my research, I aim to reveal how animals use these adaptations to accomplish various tasks and overcome functional demands by studying their morphology and biomechanics. My current Ph.D. research utilizes high-speed video, force plates, and electromyography to reveal how the locomotor system of the leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is used to compensate for the rapid loss of mass that occurs with tail autotomy.


Click HERE for Kevin's website

Clint Collins
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Since August, 2012
Clint finished his MS at Georgia Southern University (Adviser: Lance McBrayer).


Locomotion is a fundamental aspect of the vast majority of animals. Moving through variable and heterogeneous environments is one of the most important factors shaping animal morphology, behavior, and physiology. I am using gecko adhesion to test the hypothesis that novel morphological structures (toe pads) affect the evolution and ecology of gecko movement. Specifically, I am quantifying how adhesion varies with predator escape behavior in the Namib Day Gecko, Rhoptropus afer. Second, I am quantifying the coordination of sprinting and acceleration in a plethora of geckos to understand how the gain and/or loss of adhesion alter these critical behaviors.

Click HERE for Clint's website


Vicky Zhuang
Graduate Student (PhD)
Since August, 2012
Vicky was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley (Adviser: Robert Dudley)

I'm interested in understanding morphological evolution by examining patterns of morphospace occupation through time and the resulting functional implications. My current research focuses on examining the evolution of the gecko adhesive system, and the associated structural reorganization of the foot, using methods like geometric morphometrics to describe taxa in mathematical spaces.