Ph.D., Stony Brook University
Evolutionary, comparative and developmental mechanics of terrestrial locomotion.
Research in the Young Lab focuses on evolutionary, comparative and developmental aspects of terrestrial locomotion. Much of our work is question driven and is currently concentrated on two topics: the biomechanics of arboreal locomotion, particularly in primates, and the interaction between musculoskeletal growth and locomotor development.
A principal focus of recent and past work has been the biomechanics of arboreal locomotion in primates. The aim of this work is to relate standard biomechanical measures - including gait patterns, joint postures, limb forces and center of mass movements - to fitness-critical variables such as balance, accelerative capacity and energetic efficiency. A variety of techniques are used to address this aim, including three-dimensional motion tracking, measurement of single-limb kinetics and whole-body mechanics using custom-designed force transducers, electromyography and morphometric assessments of musculoskeletal anatomy.
A second focus of our work has been the degree to which growth and development might be adaptively constrained to promote fitness across the lifespan. Immature animals must often compete against adults for resources, evade common predators and keep pace during group travel, despite small body size, an underdeveloped musculoskeletal system and other limits on performance. We should expect strong selection for mechanisms that permit young individuals to overcome such limitations and reach reproductive maturity. Previous research has examined how allometric changes in skeletal form and locomotor mechanics might facilitate improved locomotor performance in young primates. Current and future work continues to address the selective pressures operating on the interface between life history, somatic growth and locomotor development in primates and other vertebrates.