My research is directed at understanding the evolution of the vertebrate locomotor system and the functional consequences of changing morphology as seen in the fossil record. The majority of my work focuses on bipedal locomotion and the evolution of flight in carnivorous dinosaurs, using living birds, footprints, and fossils. Our group is pioneering morphology-based 3-D motion analysis by combining computer models and bi-planar x-ray imaging.
My background is in biology, paleontology, and art. I was an undergraduate at Colgate University (B.A., 1983) before a year-long Watson Fellowship looking at dinosaurs in Europe. At Harvard (Ph.D. 1989) I did x-ray and muscle activity studies of alligators and birds to explore the evolution of hind limb function in meat-eating dinosaurs. I received postdoctoral training in nerve-muscle development at Emory University, bird flight at the University of Montana, and avian embryology at Harvard before joining the faculty at Wake Forest University. Since 1995 I've been a professor at Brown, where I teach human anatomy to medical students. My research has used high-end 3-D animation tools to: reconstruct dinosaur foot movements based on fossil tracks, measure skeletal motion in flying birds, and find new ways to study locomotor evolution. I strive to be a bridge between biologists exclusively studying living animals and paleontologists working solely with fossils.
STEPHEN GATESY, PHD, AM
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