Thursday, October 11, 2012


Well, it's been months since I ran off to ASB and promised more blog posts, so it seems I should give an update.

I have had to focus on two major tasks since moving to Los Angeles (other than making my apartment livable and such): teaching human gross anatomy and starting work on a new team project in collective behavior and swarming.

I was hired by USC largely for my expertise in teaching anatomy, and so I was well aware of that schedule coming in.  However, I have also taken on a second course, called Clinical Perspectives on Human Anatomy (MEDS 320) which is brand new (I'm building it from scratch).  MEDS 320 is part of a new Minor in Health Care Studies at USC, which is basically an intensive pre-med supplement set of courses designed to get medical school bound undergraduates an edge for applications and their two years in an MD program.  I am having a blast with it, but needless to say building the course has had to take priority over other things (such as blogging).  If you're curious about the program, you can look here:

The Collective Behavior bit may be a bit of a surprise to those that are used to me being "that pterosaur guy".  To make a long story a bit shorter, I have an eclectic background in biomechanics, zoology, and anatomy (including 8 years of professional animal husbandry work), and those all ended up playing a role in my joining a three-person team to study swarm motion for the Navy.  Our project, entitled "Biologically Inspired Human Supervision and Control of Agent Teams" was approved for funding over the summer, and the grant kicked in September 1st.  This means I have rapidly retooled my schedule and research focus to some extent.  I will be working with live animals (fish), and that requires a full on aquatic motion lab (thanks Office of Naval Research for funding that entire set-up; it's pretty darn awesome).  In addition, I am working to get a hold of whatever existing data I can.  This has left less time for flying things.

All that said, I will be getting back to working on Aero Evo as soon as I can.  The dragon post(s) will be first, and then probably some reviews of recent cool papers regarding animal flight.  In the longer term, this blog may end up being integrated with my new lab website (not active yet, so stay tuned on that front), and the material may begin to include some discussion of decision-making and swarm behavior for fairly obvious reasons.  Don't be surprised if the visual scheme ends up evolving, as well.

I am off to the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology next week.  I will be presenting on some animal flight related research (tail function in Microraptor gui), so that will also show up here at some point.  I hope to have some material up before I leave, but it's hard to promise as much at this time.

Cheers everyone!