Amanda SmithPostdoctoral Scholar
PhD Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany
MA Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany
BA Anthropology, State University of New York at New Paltz
Amanda is a biological anthropologist and Postdoctoral Scholar working in the Ross and Alemseged labs. Her research focuses on understanding anatomical relationships between form and function, from a mechanical perspective—particularly in regards to questions about human evolution.
Amanda’s primary interests are craniofacial biomechanics and dietary adaptation in fossil and living primates and early hominins. For much of her work, she uses finite element analysis, an engineering technique used to examine how objects of complex design respond to loads. This approach combines medical imaging, shape analysis and fossil reconstruction, 3D modeling and structural analysis to test hypotheses related to the performance and efficiency of skeletal features related to feeding function (the skull, teeth and jaw). Amanda also studies the range and effects of intraspecific shape variation on feeding performance in living animal models. This is important because understanding these relationships in living taxa allows us to infer behavior from morphology preserved in the fossil record. Thus, her work attempts to relate these behavioral and mechanical data back to broader questions regarding anatomical adaptation and anthropology, including how extinct species may have exploited limited ecological resources.