Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology
Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory
Stephanie is a Temporary Lecturer in Evolutionary Biomechanics examining the locomotion potential of early tetrapods.
Stephanie also holds a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Havard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Stephanie graduated with an Honours in Palaeontology BSc degree from the University of Alberta, Canada. Directly following this, she pursued an MSc degree by research in Systematics and Evolution at the University of Alberta studying the anatomy and evolutionary relationships of extinct marine lizards. Her love of vertebrate evolution brought her to the University of Bristol, UK where she embarked on a PhD degree which focused on assessing the interplay between skull shape variation and biomechanical performance in extant and extinct crocodiles.
Stephanie's scholarly interests are focused on assessing the link between form and function of the vertebrate skeletal system – especially with respect to muscle/skeletal interactions during feeding and locomotor behaviours in modern and extinct animals.
Stephanie has primarily been working on unravelling the locomotion potential of the earliest limbed vertebrates in collaboration with Prof Jenny Clack in the Museum of Zoology, Cambridge and Dr John Hutchinson at the Royal Veterinary College. Together they are virtually reconstructing the anatomy and locomotion of early tetrapods (e.g. Acanthostega, Ichthyostega) and modern analogues (e.g. seals, crocodiles) to infer how axial and appendicular musculoskeletal function evolved with the transition from water to land.
Other projects underway with various collaborators include such things as: scaling crocodile jaw muscles and skull stress/strain through ontogeny and across species; virtually reconstructing the brain, sinuses and vestibular system of extinct crocodiles and plesiosaurs; examining the relationship between lower jaw shape, function and disparity through the crocodile lineage; mapping developmental morpho/skeletogenesis in crocodiles; and uncovering how evolutionary changes in vertebral shape affect biomechanical performance.
- Molnar, Julia L., Stephanie E. Pierce and John R. Hutchinson. (2014). An experimental and morphometric test of the relationship between vertebral morphology and joint stiffness in Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus). Journal of Experimental Biology, 217:758–768. doi:10.1242/jeb.089904
- Stubbs, Thomas L., Stephanie E. Pierce, Emily J. Rayfield, and Philip S.L. Anderson. (2013). Morphological and biomechanical disparity of crocodile-line archosaurs following the end-Triassic extinction. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B., 280: 20131940; http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.1940
- Pierce, Stephanie E., John R. Hutchinson, and Jennifer A. Clack. (2013). Historical perspectives on the evolution of tetrapodomorph movement. Integrative & Comparative Biology, doi: 10.1093/icb/ict022. (Contribution to SICB 2013 Symposium: Vertebrate Land Invasions: Past, Present, and Future)
- Pierce, Stephanie E., Ahlberg PE, Hutchinson JR, Molnar JL, Sanchez S, Tafforeau P, Clack JA. (2013). Vertebral architecture in the earliest stem tetrapods. Nature, 494(7436): 226–229.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., Jennifer A. Clack, and John R. Hutchinson. (2012). Three-dimensional limb joint mobility in the early tetrapod Ichthyostega. Nature, 486(7404): 523–526.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., Jennifer A. Clack, and John R. Hutchinson. (2011). Comparative axial morphology in pinnipeds and its correlation with aquatic locomotory behaviour. Journal of Anatomy, 219: 502–514.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., Kenneth D. Angielczyk, and Emily J. Rayfield. (2009). Shape and mechanics in thalattosuchian (Crocodylomorpha) skulls: implications for feeding behaviour and niche partitioning. Journal of Anatomy, 215: 555–576.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., Kenneth D. Angielczyk, and Emily J. Rayfield. (2009). Morphospace occupation in thalattosuchian crocodylomorphs: skull shape variation, species delineation, and temporal patterns. Palaeontology, 52: 1057–1097.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., Kenneth D. Angielczyk, and Emily J. Rayfield. (2008). Patterns of morphospace occupation and mechanical performance in extant crocodilian skulls: a combined geometric morphometric and finite element modeling approach. Journal of Morphology, 269:840–864.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., and Michael J. Benton. (2006). Pelagosaurus typus Bronn, 1841 (Mesoeucrocodylia: Thalattosuchia) from the Upper Lias (Toarcian, Lower Jurassic) of Somerset, England. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26:621–635.
- Pierce, Stephanie E., and Michael W. Caldwell. (2004). Redescription and phylogenetic position of the Adriatic (Upper Cretaceous; Cenomanian) dolichosaur Pontosaurus lesinensis (Kornhuber, 1873). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24:373–386.
- Sanchez, Sophie., Vincent Fernandez, Stephanie E. Pierce, Paul Tafforeau. (2013). Homogenization of sample absorption for the imaging of large and dense fossils with synchrotron microtomography. Nature Protocols, 8(9): 1708–1717.
- Molnar, Julia L., Stephanie E. Pierce, Jennifer A. Clack, John R. Hutchinson. (2012). Idealized landmark-based geometric reconstructions of poorly preserved fossil material: a case study of an early tetrapod vertebra. Palaeontologia Electronica, 15(1): 18p.
- Portugal, Steven J., and Stephanie E. Pierce. (2014). Who's Looking at Your Data?Science Careers, 25 February 2014, 10.1126/science.caredit.a1400052
- Pierce, Stephanie E. (2002). Non-equilibrium thermodynamics: An alternate evolutionary hypothesis. Crossing Boundaries, 1: 49–59.
- Dale, Vicki. H.M., Stephanie E. Pierce, and Stephen A. May. (2013). Benefits and limitations of an employer-led, structured logbook to promote self-directed learning in the clinical workplace. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 40: 402–418.
- Dale, Vicki H.M., Stephanie E. Pierce, and Stephen A. May. (2013). Motivating factors and perceived barriers to participating in continuing professional development: A national survey of veterinary surgeons. Veterinary Record, 173: 247, doi:10.1136/vr.101492.
- Dale, Vicki. H.M., Stephanie E. Pierce, and Stephen A. May. (2010). The importance of cultivating a preference for complexity in veterinarians for effective lifelong learning. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 37: 165–171.
- Dale, Vicki. H.M., Stephanie E. Pierce, Donald Palmer, and Stephen A. May. (2010). The role of undergraduate research experiences in producing veterinary scientists. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 37: 198–206.
- Baillie, Sarah, Stephanie E. Pierce, and Stephen A. May. (2010). Fostering integrated learning and clinical professionalism using contextualized simulation in a small group role-play. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 37: 248–253.
Evolution Module Leader - Veterinary Gateway Programme (Term 1)
2012-2013: Introduction to walking, running and animal scaling - Comparative Animal Locomotion BSc yr3
2012-2013: Introduction to evolution - BVetMed yr1
Research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, by researchers at the RVC and Cambridge, and published in the journal Nature, has revealed how the early four-legged vertebrate (tetrapod) called Ichthyostega, moved on land.