Heather Smith, Ph.D.

Glendale, AZ

Home / Academics / Heather Smith, Ph.D.


Glendale, AZ

Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Graduate Studies - AZ
College of Health Sciences - AZ
College of Veterinary Medicine


Biomedical Sciences (M.B.S.)
Nurse Anesthesia Practice (M.S.)
Osteopathic Medicine
Physical Therapy
Physician Assistant Studies
Podiatric Medicine

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Arapahoe Community College- Mortuary Science | 2021 | A.A.S.
Arizona State University | 2008 | Ph.D.
Stony Brook University | 2003 | M.A.
Arizona State University | 2001 | B.A.


Research Focus 1: Morphological evolution in the turtle fossil record

Research focus on the morphological evolution of turtles. Projects within this scope include evolution and adaptations of the cranium, carapace, plastron, and postcrania in the turtle fossil record from two major localities. Specifically, productive field work in the Uinta Basin, Utah has yielded 800+ fossil turtles dating to the Middle Eocene (42-46 million years ago). In addition, studies of turtle fossils from the early Late Cretaceous (93-99 million years ago) of the Arlington Archosaur Site in Texas have resulted in the discovery of several new species. Extant tortoise specimens are also being described in order to document their soft tissue anatomy and provide context for the paleontological work.


Research Focus 2: Human and nonhuman primate cranial morphology and evolution

Multifaceted research program focusing on primate cranial evolution, which has resulted in fourteen peer-reviewed publications, numerous published conference abstracts, several national and international collaborations, and one extramural grant. The projects within this research focus include studies on microevolutionary modeling in human cranial shape, ontogenetic patterning of human temporal bone growth, phylogenetic utility of hominoid cranial morphology, and an individual-level investigation of molecules vs. morphology in a Native American population.


Research Focus 3: Evolution of the cecal appendix

Prolific research agenda on the evolution, morphological variation, and phylogenetic distribution of the cecal appendix in mammals and colic ceca in birds. The focus of this research has been to track the evolutionary history of the cecal appendix throughout mammalian and avian evolution, and identify its anatomical and ecological correlates that may explain why it exists and has evolved independently several times throughout evolution.


Research Focus 4: Human anatomical variation

Productive research avenue on anatomical variation in humans, primarily focusing on the brachial plexus and its branches. The focus of this research has been to document previously unreported anatomical anomalies and aberrant structures and place them within a clinical context. In addition to cadaveric studies, this research has incorporated ultrasonographic evaluation of live subjects to correlate brachial plexus variation with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms.


Smith HF (In press). A review of the function and evolution of the cecal appendix. The Anatomical Record https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24917

Iwanaga J, Singh V, Takeda S, Ogeng'o J, Kim H-J, Moryś J, Ravi KS, Ribatti D, Trainor PA, Sañudo JR, Apaydin N, Sharma A, Smith HF, Walocha JA, Hegazy AMS, Duparc F, Paulsen F, Del Sol M, Adds P, Louryan S, Fazan VPS, Boddeti RK & Tubbs RS. (In press) Standardized statement for the ethical use of human cadaveric tissues in Anatomy research papers: Recommendations from Anatomical journal Editors‐in‐Chief. Clinical Anatomy https://doi.org/10.1002/ca.23849

Smith HF. 2022. Make time: Introductory remarks by the Editor-in-Chief. The Anatomical Record 305:757-761. https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ar.24853

Mirande MH, Durhman MR, Bethel FB, Smith HF, Mirande RA. 2022. Pediatric rectal perforation repaired via endoscopic clipping: An alternative technique. Journal of Pediatric Surgery Case Reports 79:102220. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213576622000471

Mirande M, Smith HF. 2022. The potential roles of cervical plexus abnormalities in occipital neuralgia: An anatomic variant explored. Diagnostics 12:139. https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics12010139

Smith HF, Townsend KE, Adrian B, Marsh S*, Levy S*, Hassur R*, Manfredi K, Echols S. 2021. Functional adaptations in the forelimb of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia). Integrative and Comparative Biology 61:1852-1866. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icab018

Adrian B, Smith HF, Hutchison JH, Townsend KE. 2021. Geometric morphometrics and anatomical network analyses reveal ecospace partitioning among geoemydid turtles from the Uinta Formation, Utah. The Anatomical Record 305: 1359-1393. https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ar.24792

Fields Marsh S, Manfredi K, Smith HF. 2021. Myological and osteological correlates of hindfoot reversal in the kinkajou (Potos flavus). Journal of Mammalian Evolution 28:813–830. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10914-020-09533-6

Adrian B, Smith HF, Noto CP, Grossman A. 2021. An early bothremydid from the Arlington Archosaur Site of Texas. Scientific Reports 11: 9555. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-88905-1

Smith HF. 2021. Anatomical variation and clinical diagnosis. Diagnostics 11(2):247. https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics11020247

Smith HF, Adrian B, Koshy R*, Alwiel R*, Grossman A. 2020. Adaptations to cursoriality and digit reduction in the forelimb of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). PeerJ 8:e9866. https://peerj.com/articles/9866/#

Mirande MH*, Durham MD*, Smith HF. 2020. Anatomic investigation of two cases of aberrant right subclavian artery syndrome, including the effects on external vascular dimensions. Diagnostics 10(8):592. https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics10080592

Ross CF. Pescitelli MJ, Smith HF, Williams JM. 2020. Teaching anatomy with dissection in the time of COVID-19 is essential and possible. Clinical Anatomy https://doi.org/10.1002/ca.23640

Smith HF, Jager D, Hutchison JH, Adrian B, Townsend KEB. 2020. Epiplastral and geographic variation in Echmatemys, a geoemydid turtle from the Eocene of North America: A multi-tiered analysis of epiplastral shape complexity. PaleoBios 37:1-14. 

Erickson M, Smith HF, Waggy C, Pratt NE. 2020. Anatomy and kinesiology of the hand. In Skirven TM, Osterman AL, Fedorczyk J, Amadio PC, Felder S & Shin EK (Eds.) Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity, 7th ed. (pp.1-19). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. 

Dyches RP*, Eaton KJ*, Smith HF. 2020. The roles of celiac trunk angle and vertebral origin in median arcuate ligament syndrome. Diagnostics 10,76. http://doi:10.3390/diagnostics10020076

Williams A, Smith HF. 2020. Anatomical entrapment of the dorsal scapular and long thoracic nerves, secondary to brachial plexus piercing variation. Anatomical Science International 95:67-75. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12565-019-00495-1

Adrian B, Smith HF, Noto CR, Grossman A. 2019. A new baenid, “Trinitichelysmaini sp. nov., and other fossil turtles from the Upper Cretaceous Arlington Archosaur Site (Woodbine Formation, Cenomanian), Texas, USA. Palaeontologia Electronica 22.3.80:1-29. doi.org/10.26879/1001

Eaton KJ*, Smith HF. 2019. Clinical implications of aberrant neurovascular structures coursing through the submandibular gland. PeerJ 7:e7823.https://peerj.com/articles/7823/

Hunt A, Al-Nakkash, Lee AH, Smith HF. 2019. Phylogeny and herbivory are related to avian cecal size. Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 4243. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-40822-0

Smith HF, Wright W*. 2018. Vestigial organs. In: Vonk J & Shackelford TK (Eds), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer Nature Switzerland, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_406-1

Parker M*, Smith HF. 2018. Anatomical variation in the anterolateral ligament of the knee and a new dissection technique for embalmed cadaveric specimens. Anatomical Science International 93(2):177-187. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12565-016-0386-2

Smith HF, Hutchison JH, Townsend KE, Adrian B, Jager D. 2017. Morphological variation, phylogenetic relationships, and geographic distribution of the Baenidae (Testudines), based on new specimens from the Uinta Formation (Uinta Basin), Utah (USA). PLoS One 12(7): e0180574. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180574

Leonhard V*, Caldwell C*, Goh M*, Reeder S, Smith HF. 2017. Ultrasonographic diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome secondary to brachial plexus piercing variation. Diagnostics 7:40. http://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics7030040

Smith HF, Parker W, Kotzé S, Laurin M. 2017. Morphological evolution of the mammalian cecum and cecal appendix. Comptes Rendus Palevol 16:39-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crpv.2016.06.001

Ercoli MD, Álvarez A, Bisker F, Morales MM, Julik E*, Smith HF, Adrian B, Barton M, Bhagavatula K, Poole M, Shahsavan M, Wechler R, Fisher RE. 2017. Myology of the head, neck and thoracic region of the lesser grison (Galictis cuja) in comparison with the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) and other carnivorans: Phylogenetic and functional implications. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 24:289-322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10914-016-9339-8

Smith HF, Hulsey BI*, Pack F*, Cabana G. 2016. Do biological distances reflect genetic distances? A comparison of craniometric and genetic distances at local and global scales. Invited chapter in Pilloud M & Hefner JT (Eds.) Biological Distance Analysis: Forensic and Bioarchaeological Perspectives. New York, NY: Elsevier, pp. 157-179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801966-5.00008-1

Leonhard V*, Landreth R*, Caldwell G*, Smith HF. 2016. Anatomical variations in the brachial plexus roots: implications for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. Annals of Anatomy 206:21-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aanat.2016.03.011

Ercan I, Sarikcioglu L, Smith HF, Sanchis-Gimeno JA, Peker T, Ozyigit G. 2015. Quantitative anatomical studies. Biomed Research International vol. 2015, Article ID 781590, 2 pages, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/781590

Dalal D*, Smith HF. 2015. Developmental changes in the morphology of the middle and posterior external cranial base in modern Homo sapiens. Biomed Research International vol. 2015, Article ID 324702, 16 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/324702

Smith HF, von Cramon-Taubadel N. 2015. The relative congruence of cranial and genetic estimates of papionin taxon relationships and the impact of allometric adjustments. Journal of Human Evolution 85:46-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.05.016

*Denotes student author.


The Anatomical Record: Editor-in-Chief

Scientific Reports: Editorial Board member

Diagnostics: Guest editor on Special Issue

National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners: Clinical Faculty in Biomedical Sciences, Division of Anatomy

American Association for Anatomy: member

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: member

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology: member