Wall Lab


Christine Wall, Ph.D.

My research is primarily lab-based and focused on the biomechanics of mastication and incision.  I want to understand how feeding structures work and how variation in function is related to variation in form.  This information can then be applied to understanding the adaptive diversity of living and fossil animals.  To do this, I use in vivo methods to observe structures at work, and combine these observations with detailed morphological data and statistical analysis.  I am particularly interested in muscular, skeletal, and dental specializations to breaking down foods that differ in structural and material properties.  An important focus of this work has been to understand (1) the interactions between size and feeding biomechanics, (2) jaw and tooth movements during chewing and other feeding behaviors, and (3) the patterns of activation of the chewing muscles.  A recent research direction for the lab is to collect data on the energetic costs of feeding to generate links between what we know from lab-based studies about the morphology and physiology of the feeding apparatus and what we know from field-based studies about feeding ecology and diet.

As a Research Professor Emerita and through my work as a Senior Research Scientist at the Duke Lemur Center, I continue to be active in research and mentoring.

Recent Duke Undergraduates

  • Ahmed Ahad (B.S., 2019) - temporomandibular joint biomechanics and shape sexual dimorphism in humans and other anthropoid primates
  • Daniel Doyle (B.S., 2018) - lower limb fiber phenotype, locomotor biomechanics, and daily travel distance in apes
  • Kavita Jain (B.S., 2017) - microCT, iodine staining and three-dimensional architecture of jaw muscles of lemurs and Saimiri sciureus
  • Aidan Fitzsimons - conservation of motor pattern and EMG signal processing

Lab Alumni

  • Dr. Janine Chalk -  Assistant Professor, Mercer School of Medicine
  • Annie Chen - University of North Carolina Dental School
  • Amalia Cong - University of Toronto Dental School
  • Dr. Anne Claire Fabre - Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, FUNEVOL, Paris
  • Sachin Govil - M.S., Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University
  • Dr. Jennifer Hotzman - Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Kim Le - M.S., Department of Anthropology, University of Florida; P.A., Duke University
  • Michael McLennon – University of Maryland Dental School
  • Courtney Orsbon - M.D./Ph.D. student, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Gowri Ramachandran, M.D. - Department of Psychiatry, George Washington University
  • Emma Santoianni - University of Wisconsin
  • Ben Schwartz - M. D. student
  • Daisy Song - M.S. Biomedical Sciences, Mississippi State University
  • Dr. Elizabeth St. Clair, Center for Functional Antomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Maxx Toler, Assistant Professor, Campbell University
  • Christine Wu – M. D. student, Wake Forest University
  • Rex Ying - Ph.D. student, Computer Sciences, Stanford University