The Committee on Evolutionary Biology (CEB) is a unique interdepartmental and inter-institutional graduate student training program dedicated to the study of Evolutionary Biology. Faculty and students in the program are engaged in interdisciplinary studies at time scales that range from single generations to the entire history of life and at organizational scales from the molecular to the global.
I am interested in the origin and evolutionary history of mammals during the Mesozoic Era (i.e., the Age of Dinosaurs), which is a geologic span of time from 250 to 66 million years ago (mya). This period encompasses the first two thirds of mammalian history. Traditionally, early mammals were described as small, nocturnal insectivores that managed to survive past the demise of non-avian dinosaurs, subsequently radiating into the wide breadth of ecological niches they now occupy. However, incredible fossil discoveries over the past 20 years have upturned this view and demonstrate that Mesozoic mammals achieved surprising ecological, morphological, and taxonomic diversity before the extinction of dinosaurs. Thus, these study organisms offer a unique opportunity to make considerable contributions to our understanding of mammalian origins and early history.