Advisor: Dr. Susan Cachel
Origins and evolution of bipedalism
My research focuses on the influences of substrate and morphology on early hominin locomotion, using experimental biomechanics to model how these factors influence gait dynamics, joint angles, and energetics.
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Advisor: Dr. Craig Feibel
Cat discovered geology as an undergraduate at Tufts University (B.S. 2008). Her interest in lakes began while working on a Senior Honors Thesis studying varves (which are annual beds of sediment that provide climatic information about a given year just like tree rings) from paleo-glacial Lake Hitchcock in the Connecticut River Valley, VT/NH. She began her graduate studies at Rutgers in 2009, earning a masters in 2011 studying ephemeral river systems of the Turkana Basin, Kenya. Currently a Ph. D. candidate, Cat has continued working in Turkana, shifting her focus to using modern and paleo sedimentary records to reconstruct paleoclimate and paleoenvironment within the Turkana Basin over the past ~4 Ma.
Stratigraphy/Sedimentology, Paleolimnology, Paleoclimate/Environment Reconstruction, Limnology, Ostracods
In the summer of 2013, Cat spent 9 weeks in the field in Kenya. Her main involvement is with the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) which drilled over 200 m of core from the West Turkana Kaitio site in 2013. Cat is involved with the ongoing stratigraphic interpretation and is a part of the team at Rutgers doing the ostracod work on the cores. Cat is also involved with the Turkana Cyclostratigraphy Project and the West Turkana Archaeological Project (WTAP).
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Rutgers University, Busch Campus
610 Taylor Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8066
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Ridge J.C., Balco G., Bayless, R.L., Beck, C.C., Carter L.B., Dean, J.L., Voytek, E.B., Wei, J.H., 2012, The new North American varve chronology: A precise record of southeastern Laurentide ice sheet deglaciation and climate: 18.2-12.55 kyr BP: American Journal of Science, v. 312 no. 7, p.685-722.
Beck, C. C., Feibel, C. S., 2012, Changes in ostracod assemblages and their implications for interpretations of recent lake-level fluctuations in Ferguson's Gulf, Lake Turkana, Kenya: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 44, No. 7, p. 316.
Beck, C.C., Feibel, C.S., Ashley G.A., 2011, Understanding contributions from ephemeral rivers to the North Basin, Lake Turkana, Kenya: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 462.
Advisor: Dr. Robert Scott
I am interested in how we communicate evolution to students and to the general public in a range of media, from the classroom to the newsroom. Additionally, I remain engaged with and interested in the subject of my master's thesis - the taphonomy of early hominins and the ecological dynamics that existed between large carnivores and those small-bodied ancestors during the Pliocene and early Pleistocene, from about 4 to 1 million years ago.
My dissertation is a cultural examination of the ways in which evolution is communicated textually and visually in formal and informal education media (e.g., biology textbooks, classrooms, and popular science magazines and television), and how that contrasts with the language and level of esoteric detail used in peer-reviewed literature. One goal is to better understand the transition of knowledge from the language of scientists to the more accessible language of educators and science writers. Additionally, I will be looking at the intersection of the "evolution-creation debate" over the past several decades and what impact it has had on evolution and general science education over time.
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Advisor: Dr. Ryne Palombit
My current research interests focus on Human Ecology and Animal Adaptive Behavior.
My current Ph.D. research thesis focuses on the human-baboon interface coexistence in human modified habitats by examining different anthropogenic land use practices and their influence on baboon socioecology and human-wildlife interactions. My findings will contribute to the practicalities of solving issues for the continued coexistence between humans, baboons and other species. First, examining the olive baboon's response to particular types of environmental changes will provide insights on how this species adapts to changes that are likely to occur in habitats where baboons and human coexist. Secondly, understanding how local people view and interact with baboons and other wildlife provides a means of evaluating whether local communities can be encouraged to make land use decisions aimed at facilitating the human-wildlife coexistence.
My future research interest will be directed towards evaluating land use, arising from shifting tenure systems, have stimulated the development of alternative ecological practices of humans attempting to adapt to dynamic and challenging conditions. This approach will also entail examining how various human-modified ecologies evoke economic, and political issues in different social groups as a reflection of their varying cultural ideologies. In particular, I focus on the role of a set of land use practices - such as ecotourism and community conservation based projects - in evaluating how space, resources (nature) are valued and utilized by different groups of humans. These practices extend to global trends that treat nature - particularly wildlife - as commodities whose function or purpose is to sustain local lifestyles. Of particular interest, I would like to evaluate the interplay between the "old" (local, ethnic) and "new" (Western) ideologies as a way to understand how they are integrated within a regional context and how this synthesis generates into local norms and ecological practices for better management and conservation goals.
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Moinde-Fockler, N.N., N.O. Oguge, G.M. Karere, D. Otina, M.A. Suleman. 2008. Human and natural impacts on forests along the Tana River, Kenya: Implications towards biodiversity management. Biodiversity Conservation 16:1161–1173.
Hau Jann, Moinde-Fockler NN, Ngotho M, Kariuki TM, Farah IO, Carlsson HE, Schapiro SJ and Suleman MA. 2008. Inconvenience to asset: Transforming nonhuman primate problems into biomedical resources in East Africa Abstracts submitted for presentation at the forthcoming International Primatological Society XXII Congress, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Wahungu, G.M, Muoria, P.K., Moinde, N.N., Oguge, N.O. and Kirathe, J.N. 2005. Changes in forest fragment sizes and primate population trends along the River Tana floodplain, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 43 (2): 81-90. G.M.
Karere, N.O. Oguge, J. Kirathe, P.K. Muoria, N.N., Moinde and M.A. Suleman. 2004. Population sizes and distribution of primates in the Lower Tana River forest, Kenya. International Journal of Primatology 25 (2): 351-365.
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Advisor: Dr. Robert Scott
Fossil preparation, Miocene apes, the functional anatomy of the pelvis, and reconstructing primate locomotion in the fossil record. My field experience includes work at two sites in Spain (a Neandertal cave site in Murcia and a Roman necropolis on Menorca), as well as at the Miocene locality of Rudabanya, Hungary.
My dissertation focuses on using the internal trabecular anatomy of the pelvis in conjunction with its external morphology to reconstruct locomotion in extinct primates, particularly Miocene apes and australopithecines. I am interested in testing locomotor hypotheses via high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRXCT) and contributing to ongoing debates in paleoanthropology about the evolutionary context of the rise of bipedalism in hominins. I am also involved in Dr. Robert Scott’s project on the influence of food material properties and cooking on meat-eating performance in human subjects.
Shapiro, D. 2013. A preliminary quantitative comparison of the internal trabecular architecture of the ilia of chimpanzees and orangutans by high-resolution x-ray computed tomography (HRXCT). Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 150(S56), 251-252. Poster presentation, AAPA meeting, Knoxville, TN.
Zhou, Z., Ward, D., Shapiro, D., Hlubik, S., De Rosa, K.L., Hoffman, D.J., Vogel, E., & Scott, R.S. 2013. Influence of food material properties and cooking on meat-eating performance in humans. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 150(S56), 299. Poster presentation, AAPA meeting, Knoxville, TN.
Shapiro, D. 2012. Phylogenetic and locomotor signals in the primate bony pelvis: a multivariate approach. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 147(S54), 267-268. Poster presentation, AAPA meeting, Minneapolis, MN.