My research interests include catarrhine primate evolution, evolution of Afro-Arabian mammals (particularly proboscideans); mammalian functional morphology, and methods of preparation and conservation of vertebrate fossils.
I consider myself a field- and specimen-based researcher, and in pursuing my research interests have traveled widely to paleontological sites and museums, primarily in the Old World (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Egypt, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), China, Turkey, Great Britain, Germany, and France). My published work includes papers on ape-cercopithecoid divergence, proboscidean taxonomy and evolution, hominoid functional morphology, early cetacean taxonomy, functional morphology, and evolution, and taphonomic analysis of skeletal remains from eagle- and chimpanzee-kill assemblages. I co-edited the Cenozoic Mammals of Africa (University of California Press, 2010), which includes primate chapters by NYU paleoanthropologist Professor Terry Harrison and which received a 2010 PROSE Award from the American Publishers Awards for Professionalism and Scholarly Excellence for a single volume scientific reference. In 2017, I received a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Materials and Methods in Paleontology for professionalism and mentorship of younger colleagues.
My current research is on new afrotheres from the mid-Eocene of Turkey, proboscidean assemblages from early Miocene Buluk (Kenya), Pliocene Ileret and South Turkwel (Kenya), and middle-late Pleistocene Natodomeri (Kenya), and on the systematics, evolution, and paleoecology of Afro-Arabian proboscideans in general (I have a book-in-progress with Taylor and Francis Press, "Evolution and Fossil Record of African Proboscidea").
I have been at University of Michigan for 33 years, and take great pride in advancing the lessons I learned at NYU to our students here, many of whom have gone on to professional careers in Anthropology and Paleontology (at institutions as far-flung as Michigan State, Grand Valley State, Virginia Tech, Duke, Field Museum, Natural History Museum [London], Oxford University, University of Calgary, Ohio University, Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, and the Perot Museum). However, I still cannot reconcile myself with the vagaries of Midwestern weather.