Staff Profiles

Dr. Akinobu (Aki) Watanabe

Resident Research Associate

Curriculum Vitae (short version)
  • Education

      • PhD Comparative Biology Richard Gilder Graduate School at the AMNH. Thesis: "Reconciling evolutionary transformations & intraspecific variation along dinosaur-bird transition", 2016 (expected)
      • 2012 MSc Biological Science Florida State University. Thesis: "The ontogeny of cranial morphology in extant crocodilians & its phylogenetic utility: a geometric morphometric approach", 2012
      • 2009 BA Biological Sciences Geophysical Sciences; Music Minor University of Chicago, 2009
  • Research Interests

    Research Interests

      Vertebrate evolution is replete with great transformations in bauplan accompanied by acquisitions of novel traits. However, identifying key drivers of these evolutionary changes remains challenging due to complex interactions among various sources of phenotypic variation including allometry, ontogeny, and phylogenetic inertia. To construct a holistic perspective on the evolutionary history of these traits, I employ a suite of techniques to accurately and precisely characterize morphological variation of both extant and extinct groups. Among vertebrates, archosaurs (crocodylians, dinosaurs, birds) form an excellent system to study phenotypic variation due to their current taxonomic diversity that supersedes other amniote groups, their rich fossil record, and the occurrence of numerous key adaptations (e.g., powered flight, hollow bones). In fact, birds share many important features with mammals, including highly encephalized brain, endothermy, and rapid
      growth, that make understanding archosaur evolution relevant to our own deep history. Using this powerful system, my research has three major objectives: (1) identifying the mode and tempo of key adaptations in archosaurs, particularly along the dinosaur-bird transition; (2) elucidate the complex interplay between developmental and evolutionary morphological transformations; and (3) evaluate both theoretical and practical issues in phylogenetics and geometric morphometric methods. To pursue answers to these broad questions, I combine a diverse set of techniques, including histology, microscopy, computed-tomography imaging, geometric morphometrics, and computational biology.

  • Publications

  • Teaching Experience

    Teaching Experience