My research seeks new understanding of the diversity of structure and function in living and fossil organisms by integrating formal (morphogenetic) historical (phylogenetic) and functional (adaptive) explanations. Theoretical, constructional, evolutionary, and develop-mental morphology provide the conceptual and practical tools that I use to analyze structure and function. Molluscs are the primary subject organisms for defining principles of structure. I have developed new model systems: the gastropod radula, suspension feeding devices, and the gastropod larval shell, as well as novel tools that include design spaces, ecospaces, ethospaces, and developmental spaces in which phylogenetic trajectories illustrate macroevolutionary trends and patterns.
As paleobiologist and geologist, I am investigating the taphonomic assembly and patterning of shell beds in the fossil record and the responses of community architecture to global climate change during the Cenozoic Era. Recently completed projects include an astrobiological theory of the role of microbial-metazoan interactions in extreme environments, an analysis of the "problem of similarity," and an analysis of changes in shell biomineralization at metamorphosis that are reflected in funeous composite bioinorganic materials. Students in my laboratory develop their own research questions and systems. We share a common passion for evolutionary history and structure that includes the use of molecular tools.