Julia's research focuses on using phylogenetic methods and diverse data types to gain insight into the evolution of birds and avian flight. She is particularly interested in understanding shared patterns and potential causal factors in the evolution of living bird lineages. She seeks new data to inform how bird distributions and diversity, shape, and form have changed across their deep histories.
International collaborations and fieldwork (e.g., in Peru, New Zealand, Antarctica, and China) provide new fossil data to approach these questions.
Julia's research interests include:
The early evolution of birds
What do the small raptor dinosaurs and earliest flighted forms look like? How did dinosaurs take to the air?
The fossil record of living bird lineages
More than 50 million years after the origin of flight, the radiation of all of the major lineages of birds around today began. What was the ancestral lineage of the 10,000+ species alive today like? What traits may have allowed this one part of dinosauria to survive the End Cretaceous Mass Extinction? What do the earliest Parrots and Penguins look like?
Feathers and color in deep time
How did feathers evolve? What functions did feathers serve in dinosaurs before the origin of active powered flight? What do we know about the color of extinct dinosaurs?
How do novel locomotor strategies arise
Are there any shared patterns in the acquisition of novel ways of moving? From the transition to land to the origin of flight or the co-option of the flight stroke for underwater propulsion in species such as penguins, are there shared patterns in the acquisition of changes in the musculoskeletal system, sensory apparati, and integumentary structures such as feathers?