Brandon Kilbourne

Brandon Kilbourne received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology in 2011

Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Jena University

Brandon Kilbourne’s research focuses on the biomechanics and functional morphology of terrestrial locomotion in mammals. The emphasis of Brandon’s work is on the rotational inertia of mammalian limbs and how limb inertia and morphology influences actual locomotion and the evolution of the locomotor system in mammals. To understand how limb inertia directly influences locomotion, Brandon is currently working with collaborators at the University of Utah to study the effects of increased limb inertia (via leg weights) upon locomotor kinematics in dogs (Canis familiaris). Another aspect of Brandon’s research program is to determine whether limbs behave in a pendular fashion to conserve mechanical energy during locomotion. To test this, Brandon is working with colleagues at the McPhail Equine Peformance Center at Michigan State University to compare the stride frequencies and swing phase durations of horses (Equus caballus) to the natural—or pendular—frequency of their limbs. Working primarily at the Field Museum of Natural History, Brandon performs dissections of mammalian limbs to gain an understanding of how limb inertia has evolved within Mammalia. These dissections extend across a wide diversity of mammals, ranging in size from a 0.5kg grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) to a 250kg horse (Equus caballusi) and varying in lifestyle from fully terrestrial to semi-aquatic to arboreal. By studying how the physical properties of limbs vary alongside body size and lifestyle, as well as comparing the structural design of forelimbs compared to hindlimbs, Brandon hopes to uncover greater trends in the evolution of the mammalian locomotor system.