Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Dr Jen Bright

Biography I got into science via Palaeontology, because I was always interested in how and why evolution changes the shapes of animals over time. I studied Geology as an undergraduate, but during my PhD on biomechanical finite element validation, I realised that palaeontology could benefit from more data about modern animals, and started to drift towards the Biological Sciences; it’s also much easier to study living dinosaurs (birds) than it is to study extinct ones! I joined the University of Hull as a lecturer in Zoology in 2019, albeit one with a disproportionately high number of rocks in their office.
Research Interests I am broadly interested in the relationship between skeletal form and function throughout evolution, and the extent to which form can be used to predict function (or not…) in the feeding structures of extant and extinct animals. I am also interested in how the skeleton is constrained by non-functional factors, like evolutionary or developmental history. I look at these questions using birds as a study group, but because I’m probably more interested in the overarching themes than I am in the birds themselves (gasp!), I often find myself tinkering around in other animal groups where we could use the same computational methods to investigate a really interesting skeletal structure or evolutionary question. In particular, I use techniques like geometric morphometrics and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to try to understand form and function, respectively. An important aspect of this is ground-truthing finite element models with experimental bone strain and material properties data. For this, I team up with the Department of Engineering to conduct validation studies.
Teaching and Learning I am the Programme Director for the Zoology degree, and module leader for Vertebrate Zoology (core for Zoology and Biology students, and optional for Marine Biologists). For final year Independent Research Project students, I offer projects investigating aspects of animal form and function. Depending on the project this may include learning geometric morphometrics methods or ways of measuring functional performance from skeletons or 3D computer models.
Scopus Author ID 37032855300