Professor Emily J Rayfield

B.A.(Oxon.), Ph.D.(Cantab.)

  • BS8 1TQ

Personal profile

Research interests

My research focuses on the function of living and extinct animals. In my lab we use biomechanical analysis, including the engineering technique finite element analysis (FEA), to deduce how skeletons function. From this we can infer and estimate the function of living and extinct animals and explore the evolution of form and function, for example, in response to major environmental change and across evolutionary transitions. Current research projects focus on non-avian dinosaurs and birds, the water-to-land transition and the origin of mammals amongst other topics. Research is not exclusively focused on vertebrates. I have been or am involved in projects exploring the function of hard tissues in sponges, coralline algae, foraminiferans, bivalves and scaphopods - particularly exploring the resilience of the skeleton in acidifying oceans.

To achieve this aim we use computed tomography (CT) scanning including our in-house Nikon XT H 225 ST scanner, digital reconstruction and computational biomechanical methods (FEA, MDA), geometric morphometric methods, alongside material property testing and experimental strain gauge analysis in order to validate our computational models. 


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