RAchel RAcicot (PI)
My research career started as an undergraduate at UT Austin when I had the opportunity to work for UTCT and DigiMorph.org through the supervision of Dr. Tim Rowe. I continued working at UTCT for ~1.5 years after graduating from UT with a BS in Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. I began an MS in Evolutionary Biology in 2004 at San Diego State University with marine mammal paleontologist Dr. Annalisa Berta. After earning my MS, I went back to work at UTCT for one year before beginning my PhD at Yale University with Dr. Jacques Gauthier, thinking I would study birds. I still sometimes work on birds but there's still so much to do with marine mammals! I began postdoctoral work on morphology and phylogeny of scleractinian corals and neuroanatomy of Cryolophosaurus with Dr. Nate Smith, first at Howard University and then at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. I continued this and my marine mammal research program for one year at Vanderbilt University. For the 2018–2019 academic year I was a sabbatical replacement Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at the Keck Science Department serving Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges in Claremont, California. I am now an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History.
Ms. Alberdi (Vanderbilt University) is working on pinniped (seal and sea lion) neuroanatomy based on a collection of CT scans (that I acquired at Quinnipiac University) of pinniped skulls collected primarily by O.C. Marsh from the Yale Peabody Museum. She has expanded this work to include two early pinniped fossils (shown left with natural endocasts; CT scans acquired at the USC Keck School of Medicine) from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County after having been awarded the NHMLA Student Research Travel Grant. Ms. Alberdi was a Littlejohn Summer Research Scholar, a prestigious award as part of the Vanderbilt University Undergraduate Research Program Fellowship, under my supervision for summer 2018.
Mr. Gearty was an undergraduate at Yale University when he worked with me on true porpoise (phocoenid) inner ear labyrinths. He is now a PhD candidate at Stanford University, and recently published some great work on energetic tradeoffs in body size of aquatic mammals.
Ms. Glass began working with me on globicephaline, or melon-headed, dolphin inner ear labyrinths in March 2016. She received research funds from Murray State University to travel to Vanderbilt University where we began CT scanning specimens. To add a deep time component to the research, she received a Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Student Research Travel Grant to measure and select globicephaline fossil specimens for CT scanning. Ms. Glass presented preliminary results of our work at the 2017 Society for Marine Mammalogy Biennial Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Conference in Murray, KY. She was an Ashfall Fossil Beds (Nebraska) late summer intern (2018). Ms. Glass is now a graduate student in the Uhen Lab at George Mason University.