Higham Lab Alumni


Dr. David Ryan

September, 2020 to September, 2022

David studied biology for his bachelors and masters, focussing on animal biology and biomechanics. He recently earned his PhD from Simon Fraser University where he studied the effects of transverse loading on muscle in humans (with Dr. James Wakeling). He is very interested in the locomotion of animals and the role that muscle has in locomotion. His postdoc at UC Riverside will focus on temperature dependence of rattlesnake strikes, which will include performance and muscle dynamics.

Dr. Dina Navon

February, 2019 to September, 2020

Dr. Navon is currently a postdoc at Rutgers University studying evolutionary development in fishes. Her research interests focus on the ways that various interactions, including the functional integration between anatomically distinct traits and the genetic basis of plasticity, build on one another to produce phenotypic variation. She is also extremely passionate about science communication and outreach, having written for several blogs during her tenure at UMass and having taught a graduate level seminar in science communication for two years. As a postdoc at UC Riverside, Dina working more explicitly on functional integration in stickleback.

Aleksandra (Ola) Birn-Jeffery
December, 2012 to August, 2014

Ola obtained her Ph.D. from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) with Monica Daley.

She is currently a Lecturer in Bioengineering at the School of Engineering and Materials Science in Queen Mary University of London.

Ola is generally interested in how animals move complex environments. In my lab, she examined the impact of habitat structure on gecko locomotion, but also examined the interaction between vision and locomotion.

Click HERE for Ola's website

Dr. Bill Stewart

April, 2013 to August, 2014

Bill received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine (Adviser: Matt McHenry).

Bill conducted research on gecko adhesion while in my lab. He is currently faculty at Eastern Florida State College.

Click HERE for Bill's website

Dr. Andrew Clark
Andrew received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine (Advisor: Adam Summers).

Currently an assistant professor at the College of Charleston

Click HERE for Andrews's website

Graduate students

Emily Naylor

Graduate Student (PhD)

August, 2015 to September, 2020

Emily is currently a postdoc at George Washington University in Dr. Sandy Kawano's lab

Emily's dissertation research focused on several aspects of gecko attachment, including claw function in relation to toe pads, evolutionary patterns of morphological co-variation between these features, and linking variation in performance and ecology (i.e., substrate use) at the individual level. In addition to field and collections-based research, Emily is passionate about undergraduate instruction and science outreach.

Vicky Zhuang
Graduate Student (PhD)
Vicky is currently the Collection Manager at UTEP Biodiversity Collections

Vicky's dissertation revolved around understanding morphological evolution in the locomotor system of geckos. To do this, she employed methods like geometric morphometrics to describe taxa in mathematical spaces, and microCT scanning to examine internal skeletal morphology.

Grace Freymiller
Graduate Student (PhD), Joint Doctoral Program between UCR and SDSU
Since August, 2016

I am fascinated by predator-prey systems, particularly predator-prey coevolution. I am interested in understanding how traits of both predators and prey (e.g. morphology, aspects of locomotion, behavior) affect success for either party. My current research is focusing on the prey side of this relationship by studying behavioral and biomechanical features of kangaroo rat evasive maneuvers in response to rattlesnake strikes.

Kevin Jagnandan
Graduate Student (PhD)

Currently an Assistant Professor at San Diego City College

Kevin's dissertation research utilized high-speed video, force plates, and electromyography to reveal how the locomotor system of the leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is used to compensate for the rapid loss of mass that occurs with tail autotomy.

Click HERE for Kevin's website

Clint Collins
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)

Currently an Assistant Professor at Sacramento State University

Clint's dissertation research used gecko adhesion to test the hypothesis that novel morphological structures (toe pads) affect the evolution and ecology of gecko movement. Specifically, he quantified how adhesion varies with escape behavior in the Namib Day Gecko, Rhoptropus afer. Clint also used path analysis to examine how the coordination of movements defined locomotion across different challenges.

Click HERE for Clint's website

Kathleen Foster
2010 to 2016

Currently an Assistant Professor at Ball State University

Kathleen was a PhD student in my lab, and she studies the biomechanical and physiological processes underlying movement of vertebrates with the aim of understanding how organisms meet the diverse functional demands of locomotion in their environment. Her current research combines several in vivo and in situ techniques in an effort to understand how organisms alter muscle function to perform such a variety of activities.

Click HERE for Kathleen's website

Sean Harrington
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Joint-Doctoral Program with SDSU (Dr. Tod Reeder's Lab)

Sean's research focuses on clade diversification among pit vipers. He is interested in examining differential rates of speciation and morphological evolution among clades to identify the major processes that drive patterns of higher-level diversity in this group.

Jeff Olberding

Currently a Postdoc at UC Irvine with Manny Azizi

Jeff was an MS student in the Higham Lab. Jeff focused on two projects while a graduate student. First, he studied the biomechanics of obstacle negotiation in extremely fast lizards. Second, Jeff examined the mechanics of jumping in collared lizards

Click HERE for Jeff's website

Emily Kane

Currently an Assistant Professor the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

For her dissertation, Emily focused on feeding in aquatic vertebrate systems, but she has a general interest in predatory interactions. Specifically, she examined the use of the locomotor system during prey capture in fishes to determine the dynamics of the complex integration between these systems, and how organisms rely on this integration to successfully capture prey.

Click HERE for Emily's website


Elizabeth Mendoza

Currently a Masters student in Daniel Moen's Lab at Oklahoma State University

There she examines how the mechanical and morphological features of the jumping apparatus in anurans of different ecological roles may be driving variation in locomotor abilities. Her research interests include: muscle physiology, biological materials, and whole organismal performance.

Click HERE for Elizabeth's website

Jennifer Shedden

Jen was a Chancellor's Research Fellow and Honors Student, graduating in Spring 2016

Jen is interested in terrestrial vertebrate behavior, ecology, and conservation, with a particular interest in wild canids and a lifelong fascination with California native lizards. After completing a project on the escape behavior of the granite spiny lizard (Sceloporus orcutti), a species native to the Riverside area, she plans to pursue graduate research in ecology or wildlife science

Amy Cheu

Currently a PhD student in Philip Bergmann's Lab at Clark University

Click HERE for Amy's website

Other Undergraduates

Azeem Rahman (2015-2016).
Angelyn Nepacena (2013-2016).
Jessica Vivas (2014-2015).
Joseph Soquiat (2013-2015).
Steven torres (2014).
Shayan Amiri (2013-2014).
Cindy Olivas (2013-2014).
Amir Azamian (2013-2014).
Kevin Dinh (2012-2014).
Stephanie Valiente (2012-2013). Sofia Iribarren (2012-2013).
Stephen Cabalatungan (2012).
Daryl Cheung (2012).
Stacy Tran (2012).
Clare O'Brien (2012).
Zachary Zboch (2011).
Christine Dumler (2010-2011).
Alice Goodman (2010-2011).
Erin Patten (2010).
Patrick Fuller (2009-2010).

Heidi Lindler (2009)
Danielle Hulsey (2009)
Katelyn Doerr (2009)