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I have collected rocks and fossils since I was a kid, but I became interested in fossil plants in particular while an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Hermann Pfefferkorn on Carboniferous floras from the Canadian Arctic. I continued to pursue paleobotany in my graduate work with Kevin Boyce at the University of Chicago, where I studied the evolution of reproductive morphology in fossil and living conifers. I then spent several years as a postdoc at Yale, working with Peter Crane in the School of Forestry and Michael Donoghue in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Before joining the faculty at Stanford, I was a professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Brown University.
I am interested in morphological evolution. I approach this broad topic by investigating how interactions among form, function, and environment have influenced evolutionary patterns in plant reproductive structures over million-year time scales. This approach requires synthesizing information from different disciplines, and my work uses approaches from paleontology, biomechanics, phylogenetics, and biogeography.