Colbert Prize & 2012 Estes Memorial Grant


Stephanie Crofts


Stephanie Crofts received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Chicago, and while there, was introduced to the realm of biomechanics by Dr. Michael LaBarbera. It was through this class and others that followed, that she became fascinated by the amazing diversity of form and function in the animal world. After graduating, Stephanie worked as a fossil preparator in the U of C Fossil Lab with Dr. Paul Sereno. Working in the fossil lab and in the field, she grew to appreciate the importance of morphological comparison when trying to infer ancient ecologies. Since biomechanics is tied into relating form and function, it seemed that the two fields were made to complement each other.  
 

Stephanie started graduate school in 2007 at the University of California, Irvine with Adam Summers. She was initially interested in the material properties of crustacean exoskeleton and how they might impact the organism's ecology. When their lab moved to the University of Washington in 2009, she had the opportunity to work in a new department with a strong paleontology group. Stephanie then decided to shift her focus from the organisms that protected themselves with hard coverings to the teeth animals used to predate on them. Now she uses models to investigate how different tooth morphologies change the way hard-prey crushing teeth work. 
 

“I am very grateful to the Estes Award Committee for giving me this opportunity to pursue the paleontological aspects of my research. This award will allow me to travel to collections to ground my theoretical work in reality by not only allowing me to study specimens, but to put my work into a phylogenetically relevant context.”