THEODORE STANKOWICH, PHD
Research Fields, Techniques & Topics:
Our lab studies mammalian morphological and behavioral evolution. We have a variety of projects but two current lines in particular are relevant to those with biomedical interests:
- Studying the structure and evolution of defenses and weaponry in mammals, in particular body armor, tusks, and antlers. We have begun active research using CT Scanning technology to image dermal armor in armadillos, pangolins, and echidnas. BUILD Scholars would gain skills using medical grade CT Scanners, processing the resulting scans, segmenting specimens, and extracting data on armor thickness, surface area, and structure. These skills are highly relevant for those entering medical fields, as medical imaging has become a critical diagnostic tool in nearly every type of clinical environment.
- Studying the morphological changes of urban mammals relative to their rural ancestors. We have an ongoing project looking at how coyote skull morphology and bite force differ between urban and rural populations. This research involves skilled dissection of cranial musculature, muscle digestion in acid and measurement of muscle fascicles under the microscope, cleaning of skulls, 3D laser scanning of cleaned skulls in the lab, and digitization of key cranial landmarks using geomorphometric software in R. Dissection skills, acid digestion and manipulation of muscle fascicles, and working with 3D scans bones are all valuable skills for learning and analyzing human anatomical structures.