Dr Blake Dickson

Dr Blake Dickson

Ph.D 2020 - Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

M.Sc 2020 - Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

B.Sc Biological Sciences (Honours class 1) 2013,  University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 

Medicine & Health
School of Biomedical Sciences

I grew up in Sydney and studied Biological Sciences at UNSW. On graduating with First Class honours I moved to the US to get my PhD at Harvard University in the Museum of Comparative Zoology where I studied the functional evolution of tetrapods across the water-land transition and developing methods and adaptive landscape analyses. I continued my research at Duke University in the Animal Locomotion Lab to study the functional anatomy and biomechanics of primates. On returning to UNSW I am now a Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy where I teach subjects in Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics and continue my research interests in functional morphology.

Wallace Wurth Building

  • 2022, Leakey Foundation Research Grant ($6600)
  • 2022, Duke Lemur Center Director’s Fund ($6500)
  • 2022, Duke ASC Faculty Research Grant ($4900)
  • 2019 Gans Collections and Charitable Fund travel grant ($1500)
  • 2019 Robert A. Chapman Fellowship ($2000)
  • 2018 Robert A. Chapman Fellowship ($2000)

I am interested in the evolution of biomechanical traits and how they can be used to understand adaptions of extant and fossil animals. How well are musculoskeletal traits adapted to the requirements of a niche, and how do trade-offs drive maladaptation? In his research Blake integrates methods from comparative anatomy, biomechanics and evolutionary modeling such as Geometric Morphometrics, Finite Element Analyses, Kinematics and Kinetics, and Adaptive Landscape analyses. 

Current research projects include:

  • Functional morphology of primate long bones
  • Ontogenetic changes in humerus morphology as predictors of terrestrial adaptation in Early amphibians
  • Evolution of swimming adaptations in penguins and other secondarily aquatic tetrapods
  • Morphoscape: An R package for the implementation and visualisation of adaptive landscape analyses.
  • AlignR: An R package for manual, supervised, and fully automatic landmark digitization of 3D objects.