Research Overview

I use a variety of methods to study the evolution, adaptation, and ecology of Early Miocene mammals, particularly those from Kenya and Israel. Using the present as a key to the past, I often inform my studies of fossils with information gathered from living mammals throughout the world. My research is very collaborative and involves colleagues from all over the globe.

Main approaches in my research include:

Fieldwork: My field investigations seek to increase our knowledge of the fossil record in Africa and Eurasia by finding fossils from poorly known sites or traditionally neglected regions. I also seek to discover previously undocumented species as well as more complete remains of previously known species. I work closely with geologists to better comprehend when, where, and in what context did the fossils accumulate.

Systematics: Discovery of new fossil requires identification and naming, or taxonomic studies, which are foundational to paleontology. Systematic studies of evolutionary relationships are dependent on taxonomy. Most of my studies focus on taxonomic identifications describing new species or describing previously unknown anatomy of already documented but poorly sampled taxa.

Paleobiology: Paleobiological studies address questions about the adaptation and behavior of extinct animals such as how did the animal move? What did the animal eat? How big was the animal? And what environment did the animal live in? My paleobiological studies focus on Early Miocene mammal communities in Kenya and in Israel. These communities include animals as small as sengis, as big as elephants, and even whales. Studying communities provides multi-proxy evidence that is very important for reconstructing local environmental conditions, a primary focus of my research.

Macroecology: These studies address large-scale questions about ecology and evolution. This is done by weaving together multiple types of data. My research seeks to understand how the interaction of local conditions interacted with global climate change to affect mammalian evolution. For example, when and how did climate change begin to shape human evolution and the earliest human ancestors? , or what factors are most significant in shaping mammalian communities? Time? Geography, or ecology?