The Farmer Lab
I study multiple facets of vertebrate evolution, with an emphasis on studies relating to metabolism. My research focus is at the interface between biology, physics, engineering, and paleontology. My team uses cutting edge medical technologies and a wide range of laboratory and computational methodologies to address questions of major vertebrate transitions. Our recent studies have aimed to understand structure-function relationships in the lungs of a range of tetrapods. Lungs are among the most diverse organs of vertebrates, but the selective factors and functional underpinnings of this diversity are poorly understood. As the organs responsible for the first step of the oxygen cascade, they play a crucial role in setting rates of oxygen uptake and levels of aerobic stamina. Aerobic stamina, in turn, intertwines with numerous ecologically important life-history traits, such as the ability of an animal to migrate long distances, the outcome of intraspecific competition and predator-prey interactions, the size of foraging ranges, daily energy expenditures, etc. Thus, understanding the evolution of metabolism is important in understanding the radiation of lineages into their eco-morphological niches.