Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D.

Professor of Anatomy and Neuroscience
Ohio University
Email

People

Current Lab Members

Joe Groenke imageJoseph Groenke (B.S./B.A. University of Michigan)
Laboratory Coordinator (2017 - present)
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Email

Joe focuses on the technical development of paleontological and neontological data through digital and mechanical preparation, as well as its replication through molding, casting, digital reconstructions, and prototyping. In the O’Connor lab he works principally with fossil material from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar and Tanzania. He played a logistical coordinating role in several field seasons in Madagascar between 2005 and 2012, and has been a crew member of other work in eastern Africa and Western North America.

Selected Publications:
Krause, D. W., S. Hoffmann, J. R. Wible, E. C. Kirk, J. A. Schultz, W. v. Koenigswald, J. R. Groenke, J. B. Rossie, P. M. O’Connor, E. R. Seiffert, E. R. Dumont, W. L. Holloway, R. R. Rogers, L. J. Rahantarisoa, A. D. Kemp, and H. Andriamialison. 2014.First cranial remains of gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism. Nature 515:512-517.


O’Connor, P. M., D. W. Krause, N. J. Stevens, J. R. Groenke, R. D. E. MacPhee, and D. Kalthoff. 2019. A new mammal from the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian - Campanian) Galula Formation, southwestern Tanzania. Acta Paleontologica Polonica 64 (1):65-84.


O’Connor, P. M., A. H. Turner, J. R. Groenke, R. R. Rogers, D. W. Krause, and L. J. Rahantarisoa. 2020. Late Cretaceous bird from Madagascar reveals unique development of beaks. Nature 588:272-276 doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2945-x.


Joe's GoogleScholar Profile: Groenke GS

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Chris Torres imageChris Torres (B.S. North Carolina State University; Ph.D., University of Texas Austin)
National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow (2021 - present)
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Email

Chris is an evolutionary morphologist focused on how the relationships between organisms and their environments change, how the shapes of those organisms change in response, and how those changes have shaped the diversity we see in the world today… and the diversity we don’t see anymore. In the O’Connor lab, Chris is investigating what the shape of the brain can tell us about how birds experience their worlds both today and in the distant past. Chris’ paleontological field work includes expeditions in the US, Southern Chile and Antarctica. He also really, really likes flamingos.

Selected Publications:
Torres, C. R., M. A. Norell, and J. A. Clarke. 2021. Bird neurocranial and body mass evolution across the end-Cretaceous mass extinction: The avian brain shape left other dinosaurs behind. Science Advances 7:eabg7099.


Torres, C. R., M. A. Norell, and J. A. Clarke. 2021. Estimating flight style of Early Eocene stem palaeognath bird Calciavis grandei (Lithornithidae). The Anatomical Record 303:1035-1042.


Torres, C. R. and J. A. Clarke. 2018. Nocturnal giants: evolution of the sensory ecology in elephant birds and other paleognaths inferred from digital brain reconstructions. Proceedings B 285:20181540.


CR Torres, VL De Pietri, A Louchart and M van Tuinen. 2015. New cranial material from the earliest filter feeding flamingo Harrisonavis croizeti (Aves, Phoenicopteridae) informs the evolution of the highly specialized filter feeding apparatus. Organisms, Evolution & Diversity s. Organisms, Evolution & Diversity 153:609-618.


Chris Torres-GoogleScholar Profile: Torres GS

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Sam Gutherz Image Sam Gutherz (B.S. Georgetown University)
Current Ph.D. Student (2016 - present)
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies
Email

Sam is interested in the interactions between pulmonary tissue and the skeleton in birds. By studying the development of postcranial pneumaticity in living birds, he hopes to address questions regarding the evolution of the respiratory system in a range of archosaurs. Thus far Sam has published (Gutherz & O'Connor, 2021) the first of his dissertation chapters, one focused on cuckoos, with other groups of neognathe birds currently under study. His other research interest include studying ontogenetic changes in non-avian theropod dinosaurs. Past research has included neurobiology and field research in North Dakota and Montana.

Selected Publications:
Gutherz, S. B., J. R. Groenke, J. J. W. Sertich, S. H. Burch, and P. M. O'Connor. 2020. Paleopathology in a nearly complete skeleton of Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropoda: Abelisauridae). Cretaceous Research 115:e104553 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cretres.2020.104553 PDF available upon request

Gutherz, S. B. and P. M. O'Connor. 2021. Postcranial skeletal pneumaticity in Cuclidae. Zoology https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2021.125907 PDF available upon request
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Eric Lund imageEric Lund (B.S./M.Sc. University of Utah)
Current Ph.D. Student (2014 - present)
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences and Geological Sciences
Individual Interdisciplinary Program, Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies
Lab Coordinator (2011-2016), Department of Biomedical Sciences

Email

Eric is interested in the paleobiology and functional morphology of ceratopsian (horned) dinosaurs and faunal evolution in the Western Interior Basin during the Cretaceous Period. He received his MS degree from the University of Utah in 2010. He has had the opportunity to conduct paleontological field work in Utah, Wyoming, and around the world including Mexico, Tanzania and Madagascar. Eric first moved to Ohio University in late 2011 to work as a laboratory coordinator with the O'Connor lab. He later matriculated as a PhD student in the IIP, focusing his research around ceratopsid evolutionary morphology and functional anatomy. Eric is currently completing his Ph.D. while also serving as the Fossil Conservation Laboratory Manager at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences working with Dr. Lindsay Zanno.

Selected Publications:
Lund, E. K.
, P. M. O’Connor, M. A. Loewen, and Z. A. Jinnah. 2016. A New Centrosaurine Ceratopsid, Machairoceratops cronusi gen et sp. nov., from the upper sand member of the Wahweap Formation (Middle Campanian), Southern Utah. PLoS ONE 11(5):e0154403. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154403. PDF available upon request


Sampson, S. D., E. K. Lund, M. A. Loewen, A. A. Farke, and K. E. Clayton. 2013. A remarkable short snouted horned dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (late Campanian) of southern Laramidia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280 (1766):20131186.

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Riley Sombathy imageRiley Sombathy (B.S. Troy University/M.Sc. Adelphi University)
Current Ph.D. Student (Fall 2021 - present)
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies
Email

Riley studies paleohistology across phylogenies with focus on the mechanics of bone deposition, the evolution of growth rates, and how unique adaptations are recorded in bone histology and morphology. His current research focuses on a population-level paleohistological study of the theropod Allosaurus, incorporating multiple approaches to answer both specific questions about the genus and fundamental questions about the bone deposition across vertebrates. He received his MS degree from Adelphi University in 2021 and has field experience in Wyoming.

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Bakoli Rakotozafy image Bakoli Rakotozafy (BS/MS, University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar)
Current student and Ph.D. Candidate, (2016 - present)
Menton BEC (Bassins sedimentairies-Evolution-Conservation), University of Antananarivo, Madagascar

Bakoli completed her MS in 2018 entitled, Ontogenie de Mahajangasuchus insignis, Mesoeucrocodylia de la Formation de Maevarano, Bassin de Mahajanga. She is currently writing up her dissertation further characterizing ecomorphological aspects of a diverse latest Cretaceous crocodyliform fauna from Madagascar.

Bakoli has conducted field research along with MBP teams since 2015, in addition to working with our group and the faculty at University of Antananarivo (UA) on collections/facilities efforts with UA.

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Alex Acker imageAlex Acker (Biological Sciences, Ohio University)
Current Undergraduate Student (2019 - present)
UGRIP (Undergraduate Research Immersion Program),
Ohio Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies

Alex was born in New Orleans and resides in Mississippi when not in Athens. He is currently a sophomore at Ohio University majoring in Biological Sciences while also pursuing dual minors in Paleontology and African American Studies. During his time at OHIO, Alex has been learning a variety of digital paleontology workflows, split mostly between 3D model-based digital photography and digital segmentation of microCT and CT-based data. Alex has spent most of this work focused on Late Cretaceous crocodylifroms from Tanzania and the Late Cretaceous abelisaurid Majungasaurus crenatissimus from Madagascar. His is interested in the evolution of nonavian theropod dinosaurs. Alex participated on his first field expedition in summer 2021 with L. Zanno and E. Lund (Norh Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) in Utah.

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Suzy Aftabizadeh imageSuzy Aftabizadeh (Biological Sciences, Spanish, Honors Tutorial College, Ohio University)
Current Undergraduate Student (2017 - present)
UGRIP (Undergraduate Research Immersion Program), Sigma Xi, Sigma Delta Pi (National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society), FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools).

Suzy Aftabizadeh was born and lives in Athens, Ohio. She has been working in the Stevens and O’Connor labs since 2016 (first as a high school student) and has learned a variety of workflows related to both mechanical and digital preparation. Suzy has mainly worked on the segmentation of microCT scans of a variety of specimens, including the teeth of the Malagasy fossa and several primates, a fossilized bird skull from Antarctica, vertebrae of Cretaceous-age crocodiles, and more. She presented her digital segmentation efforts as part of the OHIO Student Expo in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Suzy is currently finishing her biological sciences degree, already having completed her Spanish degree in the Honors Tutorial College. Her interests in Spanish and biology have guided her towards a future in medicine.

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Fisher M imageFisher McDiarmid (Biological Sciences, Ohio University)
Current Undergraduate Student (2019 - present)
UGRIP (Undergraduate Research Immersion Program),
Ohio Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies

Fisher was born and lives in Athens, Ohio. He recently finished his sophomore year at Ohio University with a major in Biological Sciences, and will be adding a paleontology minor. Fisher currently works in the O’Connor lab via the OHIO PACE system, and has spent the last academic year working on segmentation projects in Avizo. During the autumn, he worked on a prosauropod from Zimbabwe. This past spring he worked on a peirosaurid mesoeucrocodylian skull from Tanzania. He is planning to continue his lab work into the summer and fall semester. He is interested in paleoecology and phylogenetics.

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Former Students & Lab Associates

Ryan Felice imageRyan Felice
Former PhD Student, Completed Ph.D. 2015
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences (2009 - 2015)
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies

Current Position: Lecturer in Anatomical Sciences, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London

Ryan's Research Website

Ryan is interested in the paleobiology, evolution, and functional morphology. His dissertation was entitled: Evolution and Integration of Avian Caudal Skeletal Morphology. Other research efforts included field work in Wyoming, Utah and Tanzania and a study of synapsid locomotion. After completing his PhD in 2015, Ryan moved to the UK to complete a postdoctoral research fellowship in the lab group of Dr. Anjali Goswami at UC London/Natural History Museum-London. Ryan and Pat currently collaborate on analyses of cranial shape dispartiy and evolution in birds and crocodyliforms.

Selected Publications from PhD:

Felice, R.N., and P. M. O'Connor. 2016 Function drives caudal skeletal variation in sexually dimorphic passeriforms. Journal of Avian Biology: 47:371-377. doi: 10.1111/jav.00801

Felice, R.N. 2014 (early view). Coevolution of Caudal Skeleton and Tail Feathers in Birds. Journal of Morphology. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20321

Felice, R. N., and P. M. O’Connor. 2014. Ecology and caudal skeleton morphology in birds: The convergent evolution of pygostyle shape in underwater foraging taxa. PLoS One 9(2): e89737. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089737.

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Eric Gorscak Image Eric Gorscak
Former Ph.D. Student, Completed Ph.D. 2016
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences (2010-2016)
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies

Current Position: Assistant Professor in Anatomical Sciences, Midwestern University-Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine

Eric's Research Website

Email

Research Interests:
Eric is interested phylogenetics, biogeography, and the evolution of African dinosaurs and other vertebrates during the Cretaceous Period. His dissertation was entitled: Descriptive and Comparative Morphology of African Titanosaurian Sauropods: New Information on the Evolution of Cretaceous African Continental Faunas. After completing his PhD in 2016, Eric undertook a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) with Dr. Peter Makovicky. A portion of his research falls under the larger Rukwa Rift Basin Project of southwestern Tanzania. During his PhD, Eric participating in number field expeditions, including those associated with ongoing field research in Tanzania, Antarctica, Utah, and Madagascar.

Selected Publications from PhD:

Gorscak, E., P. M. O’Connor, N. J. Stevens, and E. M. Roberts. 2017. The second titanosaurian (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) from the middle Cretaceous Galula Formation, southwestern Tanzania with remarks on African titanosaurian diversity. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 37: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2017.1343250.PDF available upon request

Gorscak, E. and P. M. O’Connor. 2016. Time-calibrated models support congruency between Cretaceous rifting and titanosaurian evolutionary history. Biology Letters 12:20151047 doi.org/10/1098/rsbl.2015.1047. PDF available upon request

Gorscak, E., P. M. O'Connor, N. J. Stevens, and E. M. Roberts. 2014. The basal titanosaurian Rukwatitan bisepultus (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) from the middle Cretaceous Galula Formation, Rukwa Rift Basin, southwestern Tanzania. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 34:1133–1154. PDF available upon request

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Eldon Panigot Image Eldon Panigot (Biological Sciences, Ohio University)
Undergraduate Student (2017 - 2021)
UGRIP (Undergraduate Research Immersion Program)
Ohio Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies
Current Position: NSF Research Associate, Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Supervisor: Tyler Lyson
 

Eldon was born and raised in Germantown, Maryland. He is currently a senior at Ohio University completing his BS in Biological Sciences with a minor in Paleontology. During his time at OHIO, Eldon has worked on a number of lab projects from fossil preparation to digital segmentation efforts. More recently he has focused on leading segmentation efforts on a new sphenodontian specimen from Early Jurassic deposits in Zimbabawe. His general research interests include the evolution of ecosystems and how animal fossils (and those of plants, when available) allow for more rigorous reconstructions of past environments. Eldon has conducted field work in Cretaceous sequences of Utah while working with the Utah Geological Survey field teams. Eldon is now completing a one year NSF-supported research assistant position at Denver Museum of Nature & Science under the supervision of T. Lyson.

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Emily B M imageEmily Burns (Geological Sciences, Ohio University)
Former Undergraduate Research Assistant (2017 - 2020), continuing lab volunteer
Current Position: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Digital Research Laboratory Intern (Summer - Fall 2021)

Emily grew up in Goshen, NY. She graduated from Ohio University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology and a minor in Paleontology. While studying at Ohio University, Emily was a member of Dr. O’Connor’s Vertebrate Paleontology lab where she worked on fossil preparation, organizing collections of 3D fossil prototypes, and digitally segmenting portions of the Late Cretaceous crocodyliform Pakasuchus. Emily continues to be a strong volunteer in the laboratory. Outside of the lab, Emily loves playing her instruments and singing, figure skating, and studying Japanese and various other languages.

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Waymon Holloway Waymon Lewis Holloway
Former Ph.D. Student, Completed Ph.D. 2018
Graduate Program in Biological Sciences (2013 - 2018)
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies

Former Position: Postdoctoral Instructor of Clinical Gross Anatomy, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA (2018 - 2021).

Current Position: Assitant Professor of Biology, Baldwin Wallage University (2021 - present).

Waymon is interested in the functional anatomy of the head and sensory system evolution of archosaurs. His dissertation was entitled: Comparative Cranial Ecomorphology and Functional Morphology of Semiaquatic Faunivorous Crurotarsans. His past research has included invertebrate and microfloral surveys and a digital phytosaur endocast reconstruction, the latter as part of his MS project at Marshall University.

Selected publications from graduate school:

Holloway, W. L., K. M. Claeson, H. M. Sallam, J. J. W. Sertich, and P. M. O’Connor. 2017. A new species of the neopterygian fish Enchodus from the Duwi Formation, Campanian, Late Cretaceous, Western Desert, central Egyptr. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 62:603-611. doi:https://doi.org/10.4202/app.00331.2016.

Krause, D. W., S. Hoffmann, J. R. Wible, E. C. Kirk, J. A. Schultz, W. v. Koenigswald, J. R. Groenke, J. B. Rossie, P. M. O’Connor, E. R. Seiffert, E. R. Dumont, W. L. Holloway, R. R. Rogers, L. J. Rahantarisoa, A. D. Kemp, and H. Andriamialison. 2014. First cranial remains of gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism. Nature 515:512-517.

Holloway, W.L., K.M. Claeson, and F.R. O’Keefe. 2013. A virtual phytosaur endocast and its implications for sensory system evolution in archosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33:848-857.

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Liva Ratsimbaholison image Nirina (Liva) Ratsimbaholison
Former Ph.D. Student, Completed Ph.D. 2016
Biological Anthropology and Paleontology, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar
Affiliated Student, Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies

Liva completed a Ph.D. in 2016 entitled: Ontogenetic Trends in the Craniomandibular Skeleton of Abelisauridae. He has conducted field research along with the MBP field teams since 2005. Since completing his Ph.D. he has returned to Madagascar, completed a research visit in India, and is continuing to work on publishing dissertation chapters with P. O'Connor and T. Hieronymus.

DEA [Masters Degree] in Paleontology, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. Project Title: Ontogenie Craniofaciale de Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropode: Abelisauridae) du Cretace Superieur de Berivotra-Mahajanga. Thesis Defended: April, 2008.

Project Title: Ontogenetic variability of cranio-mandidular system in Majungasaurus crenatissimus.

Selected Publications from PhD:
Ratsimbaholison. N. O.
, R. N. Felice, and P. M. O’Connor. 2016. Ontogenetic changes in the craniomandibular skeleton of Majungasaurus crenatissimus from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 61:281-292 (2016). PDF available upon request

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Kerin Claeson ImageKerin M. Claeson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher April 2010-June 2012
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Anatomy Instructor
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies
Current Position: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Email

Kerin’s research combines the disciplines of paleontology, comparative anatomy, and development to formulate and test phylogenetic hypotheses of interrelationships of several groups of fishes, and occasionally other vertebrates. She makes extensive use of worldwide museum collections but has also had the opportunity to conduct field work in Argentina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming. She received her PhD in Geological Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and her Masters in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2005. Kerin started a faculty position at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in July 2012. She has been promoted to associate, and now (2021) full professor, where she continues her research on fishes while also playing a significant role in educating future physicians.

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Erin L. (Rasmusson) Simons
Ph.D. Department of Biological Sciences (2004 - 2009)
Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies

Project Title: Evolution of the avian wing skeleton: Integrating whole bone morphology, cross-sectional geometry, histology, and mechanical testing for evaluating the relationship between form and function in the forelimb of birds.

Current Position: Associate Professor of Anatomy, Midwestern University (Glendale, AZ).

Selected Publications from PhD:
Simons, E. L. R. and P. M. O’Connor. Bone laminarity in the avian forelimb skeleton and its relationship to flight mode: Testing Functional Interpretations. Anatomical Record 295:386-396 (2012).

Simons, E. L. R., T. L. Hieronymus, and P. M. O’Connor. Cross sectional geometry of the forelimb skeleton and flight mode in pelecaniform birds. J Morphology 272(8):958-971 (2011).

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Sarah Gutzwiller
Honors Tutorial College Senior Thesis (2009)
Department of Biological Sciences

Thesis Title: Postcranial skeletal pneumaticity, bone structure, and foraging style in two clades of neognath birds.

Publication from Senior Thesis:
S. Gutzwiller,
A. Su, and P. M. O’Connor. Postcranial pneumaticity and bone structure in two clades of neognath birds. Anatomical Record 296:867-876 (2013)