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Professor Emily Rayfield
Professor Emily Rayfield
Professor of Palaeobiology
Area of research
How skeletal mechanics influences morphological evolution and the relationship between form and function in hard tissues
My research focuses on how skeletal mechanics influences morphological evolution and the relationship between form and function in hard tissues - primarily, but not exclusively, the vertebrate skull.
My research uses the engineering technique finite element analysis (FEA) to deduce skeletal stress and strain during function. In particular I am interested in how FEA can inform on functional behaviour in individual taxa and elucidate functional ecology and morphological changes across evolutionary transitions such as the origin of birds and mammals. Such studies are constrained by my research on FE-validation in birds, testing how accurately our FE-models approach reality.
My group takes advantage of our facilities in tomography reconstruction, FEA software, histological thin-section preparation and strain gauge analysis.
I am responsible for the M-Level courses EASC M0024 Biomechanics and Functional Morphology, and M0036 Vertebrate Palaeobiology and Evolution, available to all single and joint honours students and to students on the MSc Palaeobiology course.
I am unit organiser for the Evolution of Earth and Life subunit of the Level 1 Geology 1 unit EASC 10001 and also teach on the first year Arran field trip during the Easter vacation.
I supervise a number of MSc Palaeobiology research projects each year, and teach occasional lectures on other taught courses.
- skeletal mechanics
- finite element analysis
School of Earth Sciences
Earth Sciences staff
- Button, DJ, Rayfield, EJ, Paul & Barrett, M, 2014, Cranial biomechanics underpins high sauropod diversity in resource-poor environments. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, vol 281.
- Gill, PG, Purnell, MA, Crumpton, N, Brown, KR, Gostling, NJ, Stampanoni, M & Rayfield, EJ, 2014, Dietary specializations and diversity in feeding ecology of the earliest stem mammals. Nature, vol 512., pp. 303-305
- Lautenschlager, S, Witmer, LM, Altangerel, P & Rayfield, EJ, 2013, Edentulism, beaks and biomechanical innovations in the early evolution of theropod dinosaurs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
- Anderson, P, Friedman, M, Brazeau, M & Rayfield, E, 2011, Initial radiation of jaws demonstrated stability despite faunal and environmental change. Nature, vol 476., pp. 206 - 209
- Rayfield, E, 2007, Finite Element Analysis and Understanding the Biomechanics and Evolution of Living and Fossil Organisms. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, vol 35., pp. 541 - 576
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- Brunt, LH, Skinner, RE, Roddy, KA, Araujo, NM, Rayfield, EJ & Hammond, CL, 2016, Differential effects of altered patterns of movement and strain on joint cell behaviour and skeletal morphogenesis. Osteoarthritis and cartilage / OARS, Osteoarthritis Research Society.
- Bright, J, Cobb, S, Marugán-Lobón, J & Rayfield, E, 2016, The shapes of bird beaks are highly controlled by nondietary factors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 113., pp. 5352-5357
- Martinez-Perez, C, Rayfield, EJ, Botella, H & Donoghue, PCJ, 2016, Translating taxonomy into the evolution of conodont feeding ecology. Geology, vol 44., pp. 247-250
- Porro, LB, Rayfield, EJ & Clack, JA, 2015, Descriptive Anatomy and Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of the Skull of the Early Tetrapod Acanthostega gunnari Jarvik, 1952. PLoS ONE, vol 10.
- Cuff, AR, Bright, JA & Rayfield, EJ, 2015, Validation experiments on finite element models of an ostrich (Struthio camelus) cranium. PeerJ, vol 2015.
Professor Rayfield currently teaches 6 courses:
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