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Jim O'Reilly's Home Page

by Callum Ross last modified May 31, 2011 10:44 AM

Jim O'Reilly's Home Page

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Jim O'Reilly (
Organismal Biology and Anatomy
I am a comparative vertebrate physiologist, a functional morphologist and a herpetologist. My interests are wide-ranging but are primarily focused on the evolution of the physiological basis of movement and the origins of phenotypic and functional complexity in vertebrates. I approach questions in an explicit ontogenetic and phylogenetic context and incorporate methods from biomechanics, muscle physiology, neuroethology, and systematics. My current research program is focused in two main areas where I hope to contribute to our general knowledge of the evolution of complex functional systems; the evolution of prey capture movements in ectothermic vertebrates and the evolution of limbless locomotion in amphibians and reptiles. These two subjects are attractive to me for three reasons: 1) performance of feeding and locomotion are physiological attributes that appear likely to be of adaptive significance; 2) reptiles and amphibians display major post-embryonic increases in body size, often increasing four or more orders of magnitude in body mass, combined with subtle changes in design (in contrast to endotherms which usually exhibit small changes in body mass combined with radical changes in design); and 3) the evolution of reptiles and amphibians includes numerous convergent evolutionary events and many independent, relatively well-defined adaptive radiations.

I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan where I was introduced to Vertebrate Anatomy and Functional Morphology by Carl Gans. I then earned my Ph.d. from Northern Arizona University where I was mentored by Kiisa Nishikawa and Stan Lindstedt. I worked with Beth Brainerd as a Darwin Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before I joined the faculty of the Department of Biology at the University of Miami. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago.

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