About me

I'm currently a PhD student at the University of Chicago studying the morphological and functional evolution of bird feeding systems.

For my dissertation, I'm pursuing three major questions:

  1. How have beak shapes evolved in birds?
  2. How do beak and skull shape relate to diet and feeding behaviors?
  3. How have mechanical properties of the joint between the upper beak and skull evolved in birds?

More broadly, I am interested in using comparative methods and natural history collections to answer questions on the relationship between morphology and function.

Another component of my research is developing new open-source methodologies for data collection, computational modeling and web-based visualization. I've developed new methods for the collection of 3D landmarks and curves using standard digital cameras and for measuring torsional resistance of hinge joints. I'm currently developing computational models for predicting the mechanical properties of 2D and 3D linkage mechanisms and new web-based tools for visualizing the 2D and 3D animations.

I also have a passion for science education and outreach. Recently, I worked with the Education department at the Field Museum of Natural History to plan a two-week Biomechanics Summer Camp for teens.

E-mail: aolsen at uchicago dot edu