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Brandon P. Hedrick

Functional Morphologist | Evolutionary Biologist | Paleontologist | Ecologist

Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor, Cornell University

Emory University B.S. 2010

University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. 2015

Postdocs:

University of Massachusetts (Dumont Lab)

Harvard University (Pierce Lab)

University of Oxford (Benson Lab)

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Lab Members

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Andrew Orkney (Postdoctoral Research Scholar)

Andrew is an early career researcher with wide-ranging interests across the biological sciences, reflected in a publication record that spans satellite monitoring of Arctic plankton blooms to the inference of ecological attributes in Dinosaurs from fossil bone histology. His main field of interest is ecomorphological adaptation, evolvability and anatomical organisation of the vertebrate skeleton. 

His responsibilities, working in the Hedrick Lab, include the production of 3-D skeletal models from CT-scan data and downstream geometric morphometric analyses, taking advantage of sophisticated mathematical methods. This work will increase understanding of the intersection between aerial and dietary ecology and limb skeleton morphology across bats, in the context of large inter-specific variation in body mass. This will help illuminate the evolutionary solutions employed by bats to transcend mechanical constraints and rule the night!

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Priscila Rothier (Postdoctoral Research Scholar)

Priscila is an early career evolutionary biologist passionate about the study of morphological diversity. Her interests consist of linking ecology, function and development to understand how different species and phenotypes have evolved. Her work has mainly focused on the skeletal variation of the locomotor system of tetrapods, especially of lizards and mammals.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Hedrick Lab, Priscila is investigating the macroevolutionary patterns of limb shape diversification in mammals. She is particularly motivated to explore the impact of body size on the ecological and morphological disparity in this group. To do so, she employs a wide array of techniques, such as imaging, morphometrics, utilization of natural history data, and conducting phylogenetic analyses on extensive comparative datasets.

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Oliver Ljustina (Ph.D. Student)

Oliver is an instructor in the Biology Department at Southeastern Louisiana University where he earned his MS in 2018. He has a long standing passion for reptiles and amphibians, especially those species that make themselves at home in human dominated landscapes. In his free time, he enjoys fishing and spending time with friends and family.

 

Oliver is currently pursuing a PhD at Louisiana State University through the Department of Renewable Natural Resources, where he is co-advised by Dr. Michael Kaller and Brandon Hedrick. His dissertation work examines morphological and trophic shifts in watersnakes (genus: Nerodia) associated with their feeding on invasive fishes in urban Miami and Everglades National Park.

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William Hooker (Class of 2024)

Will is an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) major with a concentration in Geological Science and a minor in Biology. His interests include vertebrate paleontology, fossil collecting, and paleoart. To share his enthusiasm about Earth science, Will founded the Pangea Club at Cornell. Will's experience ranges from exhibition design at the American Museum of Natural History to running high-temperature geochemical experiments in the EAS Department. 

 

In the Hedrick Lab, Will is examining cranial data using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics to assess the degree of asymmetry in the mammal-like reptile Diictodon (Synapsida, Therapsida) and explore how taphonomic processes alter interpretation of the fossil record.

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Elizabeth Augustin (Class of 2025)

 

Elizabeth is a biological sciences major in the College of Arts and Sciences with a focus in computational biology. She aims to use statistics and data analysis to make ecological information more accessible and useful to the general public in order to increase participation in and appreciation for ecology and the environment, in addition to impacting policy. In her free time she likes to explore her passion for the performing arts, specifically through dance and modeling, and is a dedicated member and secretary of Cornell’s Caribbean dance team (CCSADE). She aspires to give rise to a field that allows her to integrate her love for the arts with her dedication to science. 

In the Hedrick Lab, she is working to better understand how bat sternum shape is impacted by bat flight style and body mass.

Kay Williams (Class of 2026)

Kay is an undergraduate double major for Animal Science and Environment & Sustainability. She has a strong interest in amphibians but also enjoys working with all animals. She is a member of Guiding Eyes at Cornell, The Wildlife Society, and The Herpetology Club. In her free time she likes to read, crochet and spend time in nature.

 

In the Hedrick Lab, Kay is aiming to gain understanding of how animals adapt, whether that be through bone changes tracked through CT scans or through movement patterns of animals in the field. She is currently working on understanding skeletal organization in hummingbirds in the lab using CT scans and is gaining experience in the field by studying red-backed salamanders using spatial capture-recapture analyses.

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Lauren Essner (Delaware Valley University Class of 2027)

Lauren Essner is a pre-professional Animal Science major at Delaware Valley University. Her favorite class is on vertebrate reproductive morphology and looks forward to future anatomy courses. She is a member of her university's Biology, Pre-vet, and American Association of University Women clubs and is currently on the equestrian team.

Lauren is researching the relationship between the astragalus and calcaneus bones and locomotor modes in carnivorans, has worked on lizard skeleton asymmetry, and has done field biology with salamanders.

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Rita Liu (Class of 2026)

Rita is a Biological Science major with a concentration in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the College of Agriculture and Life Science. As a pre-med student, she exhibits a strong passion and dedication to science. With her strong interest in mammals, she would like to jump out of her comfort zone and spend time appreciating evolution and ecology. In her free time, she loves to manicure, hang out with friends, and sleep.  

In the Hedrick Lab, she is working on the development of an explodable dog skull for teaching veterinary anatomy. As part of this, she is getting experience working with CT data and 3D printing.

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Stephen Bredin (Field Technician)

Stephen is a herpetologist interested in applied ecology and passionate about reptile and amphibian conservation. His work has included tracking Burmese pythons in the Everglades, studying giant garter snakes in agricultural landscapes in California, surveying for indigo snakes in North Florida, and studying the reproduction of Oregon Spotted Frogs in Washington. He has a broad interest in applied research, management, and conservation outreach. In a world increasingly impacted by humans, Stephen is interested in finding solutions to issues affecting reptiles and amphibians, and is excited to contribute to the study of the red backed salamander at Cornell.


Stephen is a field assistant in the Hedrick Lab studying red backed salamanders (P. cinereus) as part of the SPARCnet Salamander research network. Red backed salamanders are one of the most abundant terrestrial vertebrates across much of the North-East United States and are excellent ecological indicators. 

In addition to his work in the Hedrick Lab, Stephen also works with the Blossey Lab at the Department of Natural Resources, where he studies amphibians and the biocontrol of introduced Phragmites.

Lab Alumni

Olivia Li (2022-2023) (Class of 2026 at Cornell): 

          Project: Flight patterns and muscle activation in bats

 

Tram Huynh (2022-2023) (Class of 2024 at Cornell): 

          Project: Effects of bat forelimb and hindlimb asymmetry on flight style

Luke Pruett (2022)​ (Class of 2022 at LSU): 

Project: The effects of cranial asymmetry on bite force in the green anole (Anolis carolinensis) 

Farid Abou-Issa (2021-2022)​ (Class of 2025 at LSU School of Medicine):

Project: Locomotion Fabrication: 3D printing evolutionarily unique proximal forelimbs for effective educational outreach

Karine Abazajian (2020-2022)​ (Class of 2022 at Tulane University): 

Project: Skull asymmetry in urban and rural Virginia Opossums in Louisiana

Marc Merriman Jr. (2020-2022)​ (Class of 2022 at Xavier University): 

Project: A comparative outlook of 2D vs 3D geometric morphometrics in the Virginia Opossum

Currently Marc is a Master's student at UConn.

Alexandra Magee (2020-2021)​ (Class of 2024 at Xavier University):

Project: The influence of limb asymmetry on anole locomotion

Erin Sheehy (2020–2021)​ (Class of 2021 at Tulane University):

Project: Skull shape divergence across three species of Louisiana bats with similar diets.

Currently Erin is a Master's student in Tulane's EEB Program

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