Susannah Thorpe


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Susannah Thorpe studies the association between animal form, function and performance, through lab and zoo-based studies of functional morphology and biomechanics, combined with field studies of the performance of animals in their natural habitat. The study of functional morphology and biomechanics allows us to ask how animal structures work; whether observed structures are superior to possible alternatives for given behaviours and how different structures can serve the same mechanical function. It shows how particular designs have been favoured by natural selection because they work better than the alternatives, or because they are particularly economical of energy or materials. Ecomorphology builds on this approach by relating the structures of different animals to aspects of their environment, such as resource availability. In Dr Thorpe’s laboratory work is taking place in the broad field of ecomorphology, but it specialises in adaptations of the locomotor system. Specific themes in Dr Thorpe’s lab at present are the evolution of human bipedalism; how animals (including humans) interact with complex habitats; and the cognitive demands of complex locomotion.


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