Katherine Corn

fish, biomechanics, & macroevolution

I’m a PhD candidate at UC Davis in the Wainwright Lab . I’m a fish enthusiast, evolutionary biologist, and biomechanist. I study how, over millions of years, the different ways that animals capture their prey can result in different evolutionary patterns.

Specifically, I am interested in the relationship between functional morphology and macroevolution. My current research explores the role of feeding mode in promoting morphological and kinematic diversification, and the exceptional diversity of reef fishes. I integrate biomechanics, geometric morphometrics, and kinematic studies with phylogenetic comparative models of trait evolution. My past research at Friday Harbor Labs and Cornell University focused on shark tooth cutting performance and the relationship between size and burial performance in flatfishes. You can contact me at kacorn 'at' ucdavis 'dot' edu.


I'm interested in how animals use their bodies to perform mechanical tasks, particularly in feeding. My work uses geometric morphometrics, musculoskeletal linkage modeling, and fundamental physical properties of biological systems to understand the role that morphology plays in performing functional tasks. I've studied prey capture mechanisms in systems ranging from shark teeth to suction feeding--check out our paper on shark tooth wear!

Phylogenetic compararative

My work uses a number of phylogenetic comparative models to understand trait evolution. I'm particularly interested in how discrete characters affect rates of continuous character evolution, and how evolution of discrete and continuous characters affect each other. I used these types of models in both R and RevBayes--for an example, take a look at a recent paper at Systematic Biology: check it out!

Fish diversity

At heart, I am a fish nerd fascinated by the incredible diversity of the 35,000 species! This passion has carried me all over the world trying to see and understand as much as I can about as many fishes as I can, and my research focuses on the evolutionary and functional mechanisms underlying the many kinds of fishes. I am part of a team that generated the largest ever fish body shape dataset at the Smithsonian NMNH--check out our paper!

Morphology and Kinematics

My work also explores the many dimensions in which organisms can evolve. Though there are often clear links between biomechanical processes and morphology, the evolution of those traits is not always the same. I'm interested in how the non-linear dynamics of mapping function to shape results in vastly different evolutionary trajectories.