Current work in the lab aims to determine (1) how skeletal muscles respond to changes in body weight (loading, natural growth), dietary input, environmental factors (including infectious disease) and (2) how these factors interact to determine ultimate locomotor phenotypes observed in nature, across an evolutionarily diverse set of animal species. Our work requires a multi-disciplinary approach, combining techniques from biomechanics and electrophysiology, behavioral ecology, ecological and molecular physiology, and broad sense functional genomics.
Research projects in the lab vary in nature but have a common focus on factors that determine how skeletal muscle accommodates changing functional demands. As indicated earlier, most animals that move use skeletal muscles and basic skeletal muscle structure and composition is highly conserved among animals. So, in order to derive general rules that govern how animals modify skeletal muscle function in response to internal and external cues, we can and should study many animals that differ in locomotion type.