My research mainly involves the field collection of dinosaurs and their contemporary vertebrate fauna and the study of those fossils. My main field area from 2001-2012 was Middle-Late Jurassic deposits in Xinjiang, China, and in 2016 we started exploring fossil beds in southern Africa. In the summer of 2018 we returned to China to explore for Jurassic fossils in Yunnan and we returned there in 2019. These expeditions provide graduate students with field experience and the fossils provide new data for their thesis and dissertation work. These fossils (such as the oldest tyrannosaur and the oldest ceratopsian) have been reported in high profile scientific publications such as Nature and Science and received a great deal of media coverage. My current NSF-funded research focuses on fossil crocodilian relatives collected from China and elsewhere, and in 2017 I started a field program in Early Jurassic rocks of Lesotho, Africa.
My teaching has mainly been at the graduate level but in recent years I have also taught undergraduate courses and in the past I taught a Dean's Seminar and co-taught the undergraduate Evolution course. The two graduate courses include Morphological Systematics, which teaches the methods for utilizing morphological/anatomical data in evolutionary analysis, and Vertebrate Phylogeny, which teaches the relationships and major features of vertebrates, and includes an in-depth laboratory utilizing the collections of the National Museum of Natural History. In 2020 I co-taught a new graduate course, BISC 6243 Foundations of Evolution, which required the development of 9 new lectures. I have also taught the graduate course in introductory systematics (Bisc 6210) and I co-teach the systematics discussion group (Bisc 6207) every semester. An online course, Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs, is sometimes offered by myself and Dr. Forster during the summer. In Spring, 2017 I lectured for 1/3 of the introductory biology course for majors (Bisc 1112), and in Spring, 2018 I began teaching the dinosaur course as a regular lecture course (50 students)
My past service to the university includes Department Chair for the Department of Biological sciences, serving on the Promotion and Tenure Committee and other committees, and being departmental graduate advisor for over a decade. During my sabbatical year I spent a great deal of time as the primary author of the long overdue Academic Program Review for the Biology Department. I served on the CCAS Dean's Council from 2016-2018 and filled in as department graduate advisor in Fall, 2019 for the semester. In 2020 I joined the department's Diversity Initiative Task Force.