I am Michelle C Gilbert, a PhD candidate in the Albertson Craniofacial Lab at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I am broadly interested in fish morphology, anatomy, and evolution. I primarily use geometric morphometrics, along with various imaging and staining techniques to understand, visualize, and quantify anatomy and morphology.
My research is broadly centered around understanding the origin of shape, evolution of form, and the connection between form and function. To answer my questions, I focus on fishes, which have more species diversity that all other vertebrates combined. What makes fishes such a good system for understanding shape, you ask? Well, fishes come in all shapes and sizes! From round fish to flattened fish, square fish to diamond fish, to fish built for speed to fish that leave one wondering why their shape exists in the first place (we’re all thinking, Mola mola), fish provide a perplexing and beautiful system to study the intricates of shape evolution.
My approach relies on geometric morphometric methods to investigate patterns of morphological change and I frequently integrate shape data with genetic, environmental, or phylogenetic data to better understand broad evolutionary mechanisms. For more information, please see check out Research.
I have developed a passion for techniques that allow for the visualization of skeletal structures, namely diaphonization (clearing and staining). Not only are these techniques powerful for collecting anatomical data and information, but also in beautifully presenting anatomy as the art that evolution has has sculpted. Because of this, I find myself frequently pulled toward the intersection of science and art. For more information on my art and to view my photographs/illustrations, please see the Photography and Illustration tabs in the main menu.