Associate Professor of Biology
Associate Director of the Institute for Innovation in Health & Human Services
B.S. - University of Oklahoma
Ph.D. - Duke University Medical Center
Phone - 540-568-6652
Office - Bioscience 3005A
Courses: Human Anatomy (290), Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (320), Advanced Human Anatomy (410)
Research Interests: Functional and Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates
I am interested in the comparative morphology of musculoskeletal systems in vertebrates. Currently, my students and I are investigating the role of life history in the development and evolution of tail morphology in salamanders. The tail provides an excellent model system due to its multiple and changing roles in locomotor performance, predator avoidance, and fitness in all life stages. We are currently comparing larval tail morphologies among species with different adult tail types to determine whether there is a correlation in tail morphologies across life stages. Our long term goal is to examine the role of facilitation and constraint in the ability of larval and adult phenotypes to specialize in each life cycle stage and to effectively exploit diverse environments.
Vaglia, J.L., Babcock, S.K., and R.N. Harris. 1997. Tail development and regeneration throughout the life cycle of the four-toed salamander Hemidactylium scutatum. J. Morphology 233:15-29.
Babcock, S.K. and J.L. Blais. 2000. Caudal vertebral development and morphology in three salamanders with complex life cycles (Ambystoma jeffersonianum, Hemidactylium scutatum, and Desmognathus ocoee). J. Morphology. 247:142-159.