BA, University of Pennsylvania, 2004
PhD, University of Chicago, 2010
I am a paleobotanist and an evolutionary biologist interested in exploring the relationship between form, function, and morphological evolution over long time scales. My research focuses on seed plant reproductive structures and integrates data from the paleontological record of extinct plants with experiments in living analogues in order to understand how the various functions that reproductive structures perform have driven patterns of change over their evolutionary history. I have used this approach to investigate several different aspects of reproductive biology over million-year timescales, including pollination mechanisms in ancient and living seed plants and changes in conifer seed cone morphology and tissue allocation associated with an increase in the importance of seed predators and seed dispersers over the Mesozoic. More recently, along with colleagues from Yale and Harvard, I have constructed a large molecular phylogeny for living conifers that samples approximately 80% of species diversity. We are currently using this phylogenetic framework to explore patterns of character evolution within conifers, as well as to test the role of biogeography in shaping patterns of diversification. In addition, my work also includes several field-based paleobotany projects focusing on fossil floras from eastern North America, southern and central New Caledonia, and central Mongolia.