1001 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405-1045
Spencer's research is on modularity and the evolution of flight. Using geometric morphometrics, she is investigating how the correlations between limb bones are reorganized by evolutionary transitions between terrestrial locomotion and flight. Modularity refers to subsets of features that are correlated with one another, but not with other subsets. The transition to flight involves changes how the fore- and hindlimbs function together and is therefore expected to involve a change in the pattern of modularity in the limbs. She is looking at the origin of flight in the transition from dinosaurs to birds and in the repeated loss of flight within Aves.
Spencer has experience teaching both biological and geological disciplines. She has taught in entry level courses in Oceans and Our Global Environment, Dinosaurs and their Relatives, and Organismal and Evolutionary Biology. She also serves as a mentor to undergraduate researchers.
Spencer received a Master of Science degree from the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology program at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2014 for her work with Jonathan Marcot and Karen Sears. She was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College in 2012. For her dissertation work, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology awarded her the Albert E Wood aard for excellence in collection-based research.
Heath KD, Bagley E, Berkey AJ, Birlenbach DM, Carr-Markell MK, Crawford JW, Duennes MA, Han JO, Haus MJ, Hellert SM, Holmes CJ, Mommer BC, Ossler J, Peery R, Powers L, Scholes DR, Silliman CA, Stein LR, Wesseln CJ. 2014. Amplify the Signal: Graduate Training in Broader Impacts of Scientific Research. BioScience, 64(6): 517-523.
Smith ND, Crandall JR, Hellert SM, Hammer WR, Mackovicky PJ. 2011. Anatomy and Affinities of Large Archosauromorphs from the Lower Fremouw Formation (Early Triassic) of Antarctica. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 31 (4):784-797.
In preparation: Hellert SM, Rhoda D, Polly PD. 2018. Selection for Function Drives Evolutionary Divergence of Trait Integration Patterns in the Limbs of Flightless Birds.