The School of Biological Sciences Fall 2023 Seminar Series presents Dr. Aja Carter

Aja Carter, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher, Robomechanics Lab

Carnegie Mellon University | LIVESTREAM

A Paleobiological Search for Dynamic Gaits in our Paleozoic Ancestors
Modeling locomotor gaits of extinct taxa is a well-established focus of paleo-
biological, and results from such studies have interactions across other biological
and ecological inquires, such as the evolution of novel forms compared to novel
functions and changes in ecological composition through deep time. Generally,
locomotor studies either generate plausible configurations of single joints and
combine them in series to predict limb poses or use myological information such
as muscle insertion and torque across a joint to generate hypothetical gaits.
However, these studies cannot capture the other necessary mechanical under-
pinnings of gaits, such as the function of joint capsules during dynamic loco-
motion. Moreover, many of these studies focus exclusively on the appendicular
skeleton, occluding any role of the axial column in stable gaits. Currently, no
methodologies are proposed to capture such mechanical information in extinct
taxa. However, paleobiologists can experimentally extract information akin to
that arising from such extant animal study through a process of modern fossil
reconstruction as a proxy of once-living organism morphologies.
In this talk, I will briefly review the process of defossilization. I will sub-
sequently discuss my current work using defossilized models to investigate ver-
tebral joint damping and stiffness metrics toward my ultimate goal of under-
standing the nature of mechanical work performed by spine and, finally, its role
in total body locomotion. I will conclude by discussing the next steps in further
defossilization and collaborations with bio-inspired roboticists


Hosted by: Dr. Jennifer McGuire

Event Details


  • Date: 
    Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 11 to Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 12

Free Food

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