People

Learn more about the people present and past who have worked with us.  And find us on Evolution Tree as well

Evolution Tree

Current members

Professor and department chair


Email: pdpolly@pollylab.org

Phone: +1 (812) 855-7994

Website: https://pollylab.org

Curriculum Vitae


David is a vertebrate paleontologist who studies the evolution of mammals and other vertebrates in the fossil record.  

Alina Mishta

Visiting research scientist


Email: amishta@iu.edu 


Alina Mishta is a vertebrate zoologist and Candidate of Biological Sciences visiting from the I.I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, Kyiv, Ukraine. She specializes in small mammal diversity, distribution, morphology, and evolution. She is going to extend her surveys on the geometric morphometrics of Soricidae. 

Photo of Allison Bormet

Allison K. Bormet

PhD candidate


Allison's research is on the ecomorphology of artiodactyl mammals. 

Photo of Sierra Lopezalles

Sierra M. Lopezalles

PhD student


Email: slopezal@iu.edu 


Sierra is interested in the postcranial diversity of domestic dogs, inferrences about body size and running speed based on shape analysis of limb bones, and the locomotor evolution of canids and other mammals.  Before coming to IU, she received a bachelor's degree at Caltech.

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Kat Sestrick

PhD student


Email:ksestric@iu.edu 


Kat Sestrick is a Ph.D. student in the Evolution, Ecology and Behavior program of the Biology Department at Indiana University. She is interested in the evolution of animal phenotypes, especially the roles of developmental processes and their biases.  

Past members

Photo of Silvia Ascari

Silvia Ascari

PhD, Indiana University, 2015-2021


Email:silvia.ascari@alumni.iu.edu 


Silvia's PhD research was on the functional morphology of dinosaurian claws, especially of the dromaeosaurs. She also did a Masters degree at IU on isotope paleoecology of vertebrates at the early Pleistocene Olduvai Gorge site.  She now works for the Paleontology Team at PaleoWest heritage management firm.  

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Rituparna Bose

PhD, Indiana University, 2006-2011


Email: rbose@wiley.com 


Ritu's research is on paleoecology of brachiopods and other Paleozoic marine invertebrates.  She is now an Editor with John Wiley and Sons and the American Geophysical Union.  

Photo of Tamsin Burland

Tamsin Burland

Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow, Queen Mary, 2002-2003


Tamsin's research was on the molecular evolution of Chiroptera and she now works in research management.  She is now Senior Co-Design Manager at JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee).

Photo of Rich Bykowski

Richard Bykowski

PhD, Indiana University, 2009-2014


Rich is a paleontologist who studies the ecomorphology and phylogenetics of dinosaurs and other vertebrates. He has been faculty at Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, a Student and Teacher Programs Facilitator at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and is now an Assistant Professor at Joliet Junior College.

Photo of Ricardo Ely

Ricardo Ely

PhD, Indiana University, 2019-2024

Masters, Indiana University, 2017-2019


Email: rcely@iu.edu 


Ricardo's research is on phylogenetic comparative methods, including development of a new statistical model for early high disparity.  He also has interests in the role of morphological modularity in constraining ecological specialization.  He is now a postdoctoral research fellow at Copenhagen University.

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Henry Z. Fulghum

Masters, Indiana University, 2021-2023


Email: hfulghum@iu.edu 


Henry is interested in how functional traits and morphology impact mammalian evolution.  He is now a graduate student with the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at University of Chicago.

Photo of Stefan Gabriel

Stefan N. Gabriel

PhD, Queen Mary, 2002-2007


Email: Stefan.Gabriel@manchester.ac.uk

Website:https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/stefan.gabriel.html


Stefan's research is in mammalian anatomy and functional morphology.  He is now a Lecturer in Anatomy based in the Division of Evolution and Genomic Sciences at University of Manchester.

Photo of Anjali Goswami

Anjali Goswami

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Queen Mary and NHM, 2005-2007


Email: a.goswami@nhm.ac.uk

Website: https://www.goswamilab.com/anjali 


Anjali's research is on the evolution of modularity in mammals and other vertebrates.  She is now Research Leader at the Natural History Museum in London.

Photo of David Grossnickle

David M. Grossnickle

Masters, Indiana University, 2012-2013


Email: dmgrossn@uw.edu

Website: https://sites.google.com/view/davidgrossnickle/home 


David is a vertebrate paleontologist interested in how functional traits influence macroevolution. He is now an Assistant Professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Photo of Jason Head

Jason J. Head

NSF Bioinformatics Fellow, Queen Mary, 2002-2005


Email: jjh71@cam.ac.uk

Website: https://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/directory/dr-jason-head 


Jason is a vertebrate paleontologist with interests in evolutionary developmental biology and conservation paleobiology.  He moved to Cambridge in 2015 where he is now Professor of Vertebrate Evolution and Ecology in the Department of Zoology and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology in the University Museum of Zoology.

Photo of Spencer Hellert

Spencer M. Hellert

PhD, Indiana University, 2014-2019


Email: shellert@colum.edu 

Website: https://www.colum.edu/academics/liberal-arts-and-sciences/science-and-mathematics/faculty 


Spencer completed a PhD with the Polly lab in 2019 on the role of modularity in the evolution of flight.  She is now a assistant professor at Columbia College and a research associate at the Field Museum in Chicago.

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Blaire Hensley-Marschand

PhD, Indiana University, 2007-2017


Blaire's research is on the faunal context of early humans in eastern Asia.  She is now a lecturer at Fairfield University in Connecticut and research affiliate at the Yale Peabody Museum.

Photo of Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith

Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith

BS, Indiana University, 2009-2013


Mackenzie's research is on the functional morphology and evolution of bird postcrania.  She is now Curator of Integrated Biology at the San Bernardino County Museum in California.

Photo of Anne Kort

Anne Kort

PhD, Indiana University, 2019-2023

Masters, Indiana University, 2017-2019


E, mail: annekort@umich.edu 

Website: https://sites.google.com/view/anne-kort 


Anne's research is on the functional morphology and evolution of the vertebrate skeleton, with a focus on the diversification of locomotion in the early radiation of placental mammals during the Paleogene.  She is now a Fellow of the Michigan Society and an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  

Photo of Michelle Lawing

A. Michelle Lawing

PhD, Indiana University, 2007-2012


Email: alawing@tamu.edu

Website: https://eccb.tamu.edu/people/lawing-a-michelle/  


Michelle studies the response of vertebrates to climatic change in the fossil record and modern world.  She is now an Associate Professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Texas A&M University.

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Steven Le Comber

Postdoctoral Researcher, Queen Mary, 2003-2006


Obituary: https://jzoblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/in-memoriam-steven-clive-le-comber-19-june-1966-14-september-2019/ 


Steve Le Comber was an evolutionary biologist with interests in molecular evolution and geographic profiling.  He was a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London until he passed away in 2019.

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Allison Nelson

Masters, Indiana University, 2021-2023


Allison is interested in mammalian evolution and paleoecology and her Master's thesis was on the morphometrics of red wolves. She is now a Natural Resources Specialist for the US Bureau of Land Management.

Photo of Alannah Pearson

Alannah Pearson

PhD, Australian National University, 2014-2024


Email: alannah.pearson@anu.edu.au

Website: https://archanth.cass.anu.edu.au/people/ms-alannah-pearson 


Alannah got her PhD through through Australian National University studying cerebrocranial temporal evolution in extant and fossil primates, including humans.

Photo of Sílvia Pineda

Sílvia Pineda-Muñoz

Postdoctoral Researcher, Indiana University, 2020-2022


Email: spinedam@iu.edu 

Website: https://spineda-munoz.biology.gatech.edu/ 


Silvia is a paleoecologist who studies the effects of perturbations like urbanization, extirpations or climate change on ecosystems past and present. She is now an Environmental Biologist with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Photo of Beth Reinke

Beth Reinke

BS, Indiana University, 2008-2012


Email: E-Reinke@NEIU.edu

Website: https://www.bethreinke.com 


Beth's research is on the evolution and physiology of animal coloration.  She is now an assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University.

Photo of Daniel Rhoda

Daniel P. Rhoda

BS, Indiana University, 2016-2020


Email: danielrhoda@chicago.edu


Daniel is interested in the role played by modularity in evolution and ecological turnover events.  He is now pursuing a PhD with the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.

Photo of Charles Salcido

Charles CJ Salcido

PhD, Indiana University, 2019-2024


Email:csalcido@iu.edu 


Charles's research is on the functional morphology of the skull of mammals and testing the "evolutionary lag" hypothesis with a combination of finite element analysis (FEA), geometric morphometrics, and phylogenetic comparative methods.

Photo of Michael Smith

Michael R. Smith

PhD, Indiana University, 2009-2017


Michael R. Smith's project was on the restructuring of mammal faunas during Quaternary.  He is now science expert at Cloud Imperium Games.

Photo of Wes Vermillion

Wesley Vermillion

Masters, Indiana University, 2011-2016


Wesley's research was on the morphometrics, biogeography and post-glacial differentiation of the North American turtle Chrysemys picta.  

Undergraduate Research Students

Graduate Committees

Examiner, PhD Dissertations