Lab alumni

Chelsea Mcnamara

Chelsea is an undergraduate student at Penn State studying Kinesiology while on the pre-med track. Her interests include human anatomy and physiology, embryology, and neuroscience. Chelsea has worked on a number of projects with the Richtsmeier Lab, including developmental staging of embryonic mice, histological staining, and 3D morphometrics.

Kristina Aldridge

Kristina received her Ph.D degree from the Functional Anatomy and Evolution program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2004. She is now Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences at the University of Missouri. Kristina's interests include development and evolution of the brain, genetic and epigenetic influences on brain morphology, and genotype-phenotype correlations in the craniofacial complex. Her current research focuses on patterns of organizational change in the brain across human evolutionary history and the interaction of skeletal and neural tissues over the course of human development.

Valerie DeLeon

I am a faculty member at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where I completed my doctorate in 2004. My work in Dr. Richtsmeier’s lab as a student sparked my interest in growth and development of the juvenile skull at both morphological and cellular levels. My current research interests include morphological integration, fluctuating asymmetry as an indication of developmental stability, brain dysmorphology in autism and related disorders, and morphometric methods and software.

Kevin Flaherty

Kevin Flaherty is a Ph.D candidate in biological anthropology at Penn State. His varation in the rate of development during the embryological period and how heterochronic changes during development alter the cranial morphology. Currently, he is working to create a tool that allows users to estimate the developmental age of mouse embryos, located at

Brenda Frazier

I am an advanced graduate student in the Richtsmeier Lab. My primary research interests involve the evolution and development of the skull in living and fossil primates. My dissertation research focused on the changes in craniofacial morphology associated with reduced body size in mammals, and with pathologically reduced brain size in humans.

Yann Heuzé

Yann Heuzé is a biological anthropologist working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Richtsmeier lab since 2008, where his main focus is to study normal and pathological craniofacial development and growth. He particularly focuses on the craniosynostosis genotype-phenotype relationships in humans and mouse models using X-ray and MR imaging and geometric morphometrics. More generally, he researches craniofacial and dental development from an integrative perspective, analyzing the various relationships between different craniofacial units in extant and extinct hominids.

Cheryl Hill

Congratulations to Cheryl, who defended her thesis this summer and is now a postdoc in Kristina Aldridge's lab at the University of Missouri! Cheryl's interests include the development and evolution of the skull, phenotype-genotype correlations, and craniofacial dysmorphology in Down syndrome. Her dissertation work analyzed temporal bone pneumatization across Hominine evolutionary history and throughout human development.

Chanyoung Lee, M.S.

Chanyoung Lee is a graduate student in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. He obtained his BS and MS at the Seoul National University. He is mentored by Dr. Reuben Kraft, and works with the Richtsmeier Lab studying mathematical models of skull and brain growth. 

Kate M. Lesciotto, J.D. , Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Clinical Anatomy
  • Sam Houston State University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

Kate Lesciotto graduated with her PhD in Anthropology in May 2020 and is now an Assistant Professor of Clinical Anatomy at the Sam Houston State University - College of Osteopathic Medicine. She previously received her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and M.S. in biological and forensic anthropology from Mercyhurst University. Her interests include craniofacial growth and development, human anatomy, and forensic anthropology. Currently, her research is focused on using experimental mouse models to study the influence of the brain on the developing skull.

Anita Lubensky

Anita finished her dissertation "Three-Dimensional Analysis of Age-Related Change in the Adult Craniofacial Skeleton" in 2004, earning her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Since leaving Baltimore she has taught biology at San Diego City College. Anita received her B.A. in anthropology from the University of Kansas in 1995. Her interests include age-related change in adult craniofacial morphology, atlanto-axial instability (AAI) associated with Down Syndrome, and osteopathology. Anita also loves teaching, traveling, reading, writing, gardening, and boogie-boarding.

Neus Martínez-Abadías

I am a postdoc in the Richtsmeier lab, where I study the genetic and developmental bases of the skull to understand their role in human cranial evolution. In my doctoral dissertation I used geometric morphometrics and quantitative genetic analyses to explore the evolutionary patterns of the human skull. I obtained my PhD in December 2007 (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain) and I moved to Penn State in October 2008. Here I'll be working with craniosynostosis mouse models in order to explore the genotype-phenotype correspondence in this skull disease.

Muhammad Musa

Muhammad A. Musa, a Visiting Scholar to the Lab of Dr. J.T. Richtsmeier, is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Anatomy, College of Health Sciences, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria. Muhammad’s visit was funded through a visiting scholar’s grant from the American Association of Anatomists. Muhammad’s research interest is in the area of craniofacial anatomy, morphology, growth, development and genetics especially as it relates to infants and children. He is currently working on Postnatal Craniofacial Phenotypes in Nigerian children as part of his Ph.D dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Richtsmeier in collaboration with Dr. Seth M. Weinberg, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Muhammad plans to use 3D geometric applications to study the correspondence between craniofacial phenotypes and genotypes in the future.

Chris Percival

Chris completed his PhD in the Richtsmeier Lab in 2013 and moved to the University of Calgary to complete a postdoc with Benedikt Hallgrímsson and Ralph Marcucio. Chris remains interested in how changes to the development of craniofacial bones can produce evolutionarily relevant changes in the skull. He will continue to work with animal models in an effort to elucidate bases of craniofacial variation; including variation in gene expression and the role of angiogenesis during intramembranous osteogenesis.

Nandini Singh, Ph.D.

Dr. Singh is a physical anthropologist, with a speciality in human and non-human ape skull development and evolution. In my research I use an interdisciplinary approach to explore the evolutionary and developmental basis of morphological variation in the primate skull form as well as in craniofacial disorders. My background in human evolution and postdoctoral experience in evolutionary developmental biology enable me to employ an interdisciplinary approach to address questions that can further our understanding of developmental mechanisms that drive morphological evolution in hominoids, and mammals in general. I combine evolutionary concepts such as morphological integration and heterochrony with clinical research to investigate key developmental pathways (for example Sonic Hedgehog signaling) that are implicated in the formation and patterning of the mammalian skull, and which when disrupted, cause severe midfacial and forebrain anomalies. I use advanced imaging, 3D geometric morphometrics and multivariate statistical techniques to quantify and analyze morphological data generated through experimental manipulation of embryonic skull growth in mice, mapping the genetic to phenotypic change.  

Satama Sirivunnabood

Satama got his PhD degree from the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State in Summer 2010. He worked for the lab as a programmer and database analyst from January 2007 to August 2010. His research interests are applications of IT and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) in supply chain networks, manufacturing, and service industries. Now he is enjoying his life and career in his hometown, Thailand!!

John Starbuck

John graduated with his PhD in Anthropology in May of 2012. John’s doctoral dissertation research used morphometric methods to explore facial shape variation in humans with trisomy 21 and craniofacial variation in a Down syndrome mouse model. John now holds a post-doctoral research position in the department of Orthodontics and Oral Facial Genetics at the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis, IN.

Katherine Willmore

Although Kat has physically moved back to her Canadian homeland, she continues her research with the lab remotely. She uses morphometric techniques to address questions related to the evolution and development of the mammalian skull.  Recent projects have coupled measures of craniofacial phenotypic variation with specific developmental-genetic disruptions to gain a better understanding of how the genotype is translated into the phenotype.  Her research in the Richtsmeier lab is an extension of this previous work, focusing on the genetic basis of cranial variation and its role in anthropoid cranial evolution. 

Peng Yan

Peng got her Master's degree from the Computer Science and Engineering department at Penn State in spring 2005. She spent several years as the lab's chief programmer and database manager. Her own reasearch involves mobile database systems and database management.
Peng enjoys cooking and playing with her adorable kids.

Chi Zhang, Ph. D.

Dr. Chi Zhang is currently teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and is collaborating with the Richtsmeier lab. He recently received his PhD in biological anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. His dissertation research explores the potential of geometric morphometrics in capturing and identifying morphological detail of specimens commonly allocated to Homo erectus by using surface and curve semilandmarks. In particular, this research examines the influence of Procrustes superimposition on the quantification of hominin cranial morphology as well as the efficacy of using principle component analysis in visualizing morphological detail. He is also interested in 3D landmark methods, statistical shape analysis, craniofacial development and the role of developmental mechanisms in human evolution.

Jie Zhang

I am a PhD candidate in the department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. Currently I am working in the Richtsmeier Lab as a database manager and programmer. My work mainly involves database administration, website maintenance, and developing specific purpose programs for other researchers. My own research interests include Wireless Sensor Networks, Complex Networks, and Inventory Management in Supply Chain Systems. My dissertation research is developing energy aware routing protocol for distributed wireless sensor networks. I like playing basketball, travel and photography in my spare time.