The Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Timothy Higham, PhD

former Humboldt Fellow
Mail: thigham [at] ucr [dot] edu

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Profile

Field of work

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES:

2016-2017: Elected as chair of the Comparative Morphology & Development section of the Canadian Society of Zoologists.

2015: Organized a symposium (with Rich Palmer) for the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists (Calgary, Canada) titled “From head to toe: Integrative vertebrate morphology and evolution”.  See http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/CMD/home.htm for more information.

2015: Organized a symposium (with Rich Palmer) for the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists (Calgary, Canada) titled “Ten Years of The Triple Helix: Development, Morphology, Evolution”.  See http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/CMD/home.htm for more information.

2015: Organized a symposium (with Peter Wainwright) for the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (West Palm Beach, Florida) titled “New insights into suction feeding biomechanics and evolution”. See http://www.sicb.org/meetings/2015/symposia/index.php for more information.

2014:  Became co-editor of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.

2014:  Organized a symposium (with Rick Blob) for the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (Austin, Texas) titled “Terrestrial locomotion: Where do we stand, where are going?”  See http://www.sicb.org/meetings/2014/symposia/locomotion.php for more information.

2013:  Organized a regional SICB conference at the University of California, Riverside.  Conference consisted of 80 scientists from the SW representing the Divisions of Vertebrate Morphology and Comparative Biomechanics.  See http://www.biomechanics.ucr.edu/ucr2013/ for more information.

2013:  Elected to the Executive Council of the Canadian Society of Zoologists.

2013:  Organized a symposium (with Ted Garland) for the International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (Barcelona, Spain) titled “The evolution of locomotion: reciprocal illumination from a diversity of approaches”.

2013:  Organized a symposium (with Anthony Herrel) for the International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (Barcelona, Spain) titled “Sticks, stones, and slopes: the link between substrate characteristics, morphology, and biomechanics.

2012:  Invited to join Functional Ecology as an editor.

2012: Organized a symposium (with Anthony Russell) for the World Congress of Herpetology (Vancouver, Canada) titled “Caudal Autotomy and Regeneration in Lizards: Patterns, Costs, and Benefits”. 

2011:  Elected as Secretary of the Division of Comparative Biomechanics of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

2011-2014: Editorial board member of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

2010:  Guest Editor (with Andrew Biewener) for a Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B theme issue titled “Integration of muscle function for producing and controlling movement”. Volume 366, issue 1570, April 2011.

2010:  Organized a symposium (with Andrew Biewener) for the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society (Westminster, Colorado) titled “Off the beaten path: Integrative aspects of muscle function during locomotion”.

2007:  Organized a symposium (with Peter Wainwright) for the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (Phoenix, Arizona) titled “The evolution of feeding mechanisms in vertebrates”.

 

Research interests

Animal locomotion is replete with examples of elaborate behavioral and morphological novelties that enhance performance. The adhesive apparatus of geckos is one such innovation, permitting locomotion in challenging micro-environments, such as on vertical or inverted smooth surfaces including smooth leaves, bamboo, and banana. This remarkable system generally involves a complex hierarchy of components: setae (microscopic beta-keratin hair-like structures), scansors (expanded digital scales), and modified skeletal elements, muscles and tendons of the foot and other parts of the limb. The mechanism of adhesive contact involves electrostatic interactions and van der Waals and capillary forces.

The effective use of these morphological modifications is associated with altered locomotor kinematics. Despite our growing knowledge of gecko adhesion and its impact on locomotion, we know almost nothing about the intricate interactions between the hair-like structures on the ventral surface of the toes and the surfaces on which geckos move in nature. Unraveling the factors that actually facilitate or impede adhesion, especially with respect to plant surfaces that can vary dramatically in structure, chemistry, and polarizability, will be critical for inspiring the development of new adhesives and robots that mimic gecko adhesive properties, but will also be critical for understanding the evolution of plant-animal interactions. This research will be both transformative and broadly interesting to engineers, biomechanists, evolutionary biologists, and ecologists.
The unparalleled collections and live animal resources at Museum Koenig and the numerous live plant specimens at the Botanic Garden at the University of Freiburg will be used to address several questions:
(1) Does the microtopography of the gecko adhesive system match that of the plant surfaces on which they are found?
(2) What impact do electrical charge and hydrophobicity of the plant surface have on gecko adhesion?
(3) What parameters of the plant surface dictate frictional adhesion performance in arboreal geckos?

Memberships

African Herpetological Association, Canadian Society of Zoologists, Society for Experimental Biology, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Awards

2017: Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers. University of Freiburg and the Museum Koenig, GAANN Fellowship (co-wrote with Daivd Reznick), 2015: Junior Excellence in Teaching Award (JET) – Honoree Select. UC Riverside., 2012: Meeting grant from the Company of Biologists, 2013-2015: UC MEXUS Small Grant, 2013: Meeting grant from the Company of Biologists, NSF Fellowship: Locomotion and adhesion in geckos. The link between ecology, form, and function. Awarded by the Physiological and Structural Systems Cluster in the Division of Integrative and Organismal Systems (IOS)., 2012 Meeting grant from the Company of Biologists, 2010 University Research Grant Committee (URGC) award, 2008: NSERC postdoctoral fellowship, 2006: Journal of Experimental Biology Traveling Fellowship, 2006: William S. Hoar Award for best student oral presentation at the 2006 annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, 2006: Fellowship for travel to the 2006 annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, 2004 and 2003: UC Davis Graduate fellowship, 2003 and 2002: University of Cincinnati Harry L. Wieman Summer Fellowship

Further information

Service:
 
Graduate Advisor for joint doctoral program between UC Riverside and SDSU (2016-present)
Vice Chair of IACUC at UC Riverside (2016 - present)
Member of the IACUC at UC Riverside (2015 - present)
Faculty Search Committee for Community Ecology at UC Riverside (2015-2016)
GAANN Advisory Committee (2015 - Present)
Graduate advisor for admissions, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology (2015 – Present)
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, UC Riverside (2015 – Present)
Graduate Written Exam Committee, UC Riverside (2014 – Present)
University of California Education Abroad Program Faculty Advisory Committee for Africa (2015 – Present)
Ad hoc committee for the Shipley-Skinner grants at UC Riverside (2015)
Committee on Scholarships and Honors at UC Riverside (2014 – present) 
Ad hoc committee for merit advances at UC Riverside (2013 – present)
UC Riverside Natural Reserve System Advisory Committee (2013 – present)
Committee for Continuing Graduate Students at UC Riverside (2012 – 2015)
Faculty Search Committee for Behavioral Ecologist at UC Riverside (2012)
EEOB Program Committee at UC Riverside (2011 – present)
Chair of Seminar Organizing Committee at UC Riverside (2012 – 2014)
Mathias Award Committee at UC Riverside (2011)
Curriculum Committee at Clemson University (2010 – 2011) 
Seminar Committee at Clemson University (2010 – 2011)

VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES:

2014:  Riverside Metropolitan Museum outreach all-day event.  This event, termed “Animal Olympics”, highlighted the research in the Higham Lab by performing exercises and presentations.

2013:  Animal Superpowers outreach event for grades K-6 at Alcott Elementary in Riverside, CA.

2013:  Session chair at the International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (ICVM) in Barcelona, Spain.

2013:  Session chair at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

2013: Volunteer teaching at Alcott Elementary in Riverside, CA.

2011: Judge for the Best Poster Award of the CBP section of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

2010: Judge for the Division of Vertebrate Morphology and the Division of Comparative Biomechanics at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Seattle, WA. 

2010:  Session chair at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Seattle, WA

2007: Presenter and judge for Boston Latin School Science Fair

 

 

 

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