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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

Postdoctoral Researchers

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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.

Graduate Students

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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 (Ph.D. Student)

Will is a Ph.D. student in the Geological Sciences field at Cornell. 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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Stephen Bredin (M.S. Student)

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.

Stephen is an M.S. student in the Hedrick Lab studying ambystomid migrations across roads with a particular interest in how and when juveniles return from breeding pools to upland habitat in the summer. He also contributes (and often leads) the red-backed salamander work in the lab and is the founder of TCAMP (Tompkins County Amphibian Migration Patrol), which helps wayward amphibians cross roads in Tompkins County every Spring.

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Caroline Goldstein (Postbac Scholar)

Caroline graduated from Cornell in the class of 2024 as an Animal Science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Originally on the pre-vet track, she has recently discovered a passion for evolutionary biology and research, and is looking forward to exploring what else science has to offer. Outside of academics, she enjoys reading, horseback riding, and playing with her cat. 

In the Hedrick Lab, she is working on various salamander projects under the SPARCnet RaMP program and is learning how to perform spatial capture-recapture analyses. Additionally, she is looking at sexual dimorphism in bat pelves using microCT data. This includes segmentation of bones and 3D geometric morphometrics. Her work will also be used in a large-scale integration study currently being done across bats in the Hedrick Lab.

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Isha Chauhan (DVM/Ph.D. Student)

Isha is an incoming DVM/PhD student at Cornell with a focus on zoology and wildlife conservation. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Kentucky. Her rotation project in the Hedrick Lab focuses on assessing novel spatial capture recapture methods on salamander populations in Louisiana to determine population density and spatial distribution. She is also working on the red-backed salamander projects going on in the lab.

Undergraduates

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Kay Williams (Class of 2026)

Kay is an undergraduate Environment & Sustainability major with a minor in Animal Science and Education. She has a strong interest in amphibians but also enjoys working with mammals. She is a current Vice President of Guiding Eyes at Cornell while also raising a GEB guide dog! 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 two projects. One being understanding evolutionary skeletal organizations in hummingbirds in the lab using CT bone segmentation. She is also working on her own project in the field by studying red-backed salamanders changes due to climate change using spatial capture-recapture analyses.

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.

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Lauren Essner (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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Shannon Hu (Class of 2026)

Shannon is an Entomology major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She is interested in researching spatial and migration ecology and hopes to work in wetland conservation in the future. She enjoys being outdoors as much as possible whether it be birding, fishing, field-herping, or ultralight backpacking. She also enjoys reading surrealist fiction.

Shannon is working on salamander ecology projects in the Hedrick Lab, both helping with general lab fieldwork examining how elevational differences impact red-back salamander density, demography, and space-use and working on starting up her own project comparing salamander population structure in 2024 to data collected at the same site in 2014.

Lab Alumni

Jamison Thompson (2023-2024) (New Visions Life Sciences Program): 

          Project: Patterns of integration in bipedal and quadrupedal rodents

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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