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Personal profile

Research interests

My research is focused on the origins of animals, using multiple methods to estimate when they evolved and what early animals looked like. I am investigating fossils from the Kuanchuanpu Formation which shed light on some of the earliest animal life; this Lagerstätte is situated just after the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary. The microscopic fossils are often preserved in three dimensions, allowing detailed insight into the morphology of early animals. In addition to investigating these organisms, I am also interested in the use of diverse methods for estimating when animals evolved. Molecular clock analyses are commonly used and just as commonly updated and improved, but there are still many discrepancies between different analyses and with the fossil record. I’m interested in whether these discrepancies can be explained or resolved, including through the use of novel Bayesian models to better interpret the fossil record.

 

I am also interested in taphonomy, especially of cells and organelles. The early eukaryote fossil record is poor and difficult to interpret, so understanding how cells decay is important. Taphonomy experiments can identify patterns of decay that can then be used to help interpret the fossil record.

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