Curriculum vitae

Dr. Andrew Cuff – Curriculum Vitae

Updated 29/05/17 

Contact address: Structure and Motion Lab, Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts, AL9 7TA, United Kingdom

Email: acuff@rvc.ac.uk

Current Position

Postdoctoral Researcher in Bioinformatics: Royal Veterinary College. 2016 – Present
I am now working on a large ERC project testing whether bipedalism (and the associated suite of traits) in early dinosauriforms granted them improved locomotor performance (particularly jumping, standing and straight line efficiency and speed) compared to the bipedal and quadrupedal pseudosuchians - but at a cost of reduced ability to turn quickly. This project will involve working with live animals, anatomical dissections, and computer modelling of both extant and extinct animals in our attempts to understand the locomotion of these Triassic archosaurs.

Previous Position

Postdoctoral Researcher: UCL and Royal Veterinary College. 2014 – 2016.
I researched the evolution of the felid postcranium, with particular interest in the biomechanics and scaling of the muscles and bones of the limbs and vertebral column. Throughout the project I carried out research into the evolution of felid body masses in an attempt to understand its modality (Cuff et al., 2015). I have dissected specimens of eight extant felid species to assess muscular scaling in the postcranium (Cuff et al., 2016a,b). This work has allowed for advanced musculoskeletal modelling of extinct species such as the North American lion, Panthera atrox (Cuff et al., in review), with side projects on brain anatomy of living and fossil felids (Cuff et al., 2017). Ongoing work includes mechanical testing of bones from a small and large felid species and validation using finite element modelling. Using all of the data, musculoskeletal models of a range of felids (small and large, extant and extinct) will be recreated to test efficiency of postures, gaits and locomotor speeds. The results will be compared to video and force plate data from a range of extant felids (completed BSc projects) to validate them.

University Education

Ph.D. Geology University of Bristol. 2010 – 2014.
My doctoral thesis reconstructed the functional morphology and macroevolutionary patterns of the ornithomimosaurs, a group of theropod dinosaurs that lose teeth and evolve beaks incrementally along their evolutionary history. I specifically addressed what biomechanical consequences these changes have on skull performance. This initially required retrodeformation and musculature reconstruction for all of the taxa (Cuff and Rayfield, 2015) before finite element analyses were carried out. I found that Garudimimus skull function is very similar to more basal theropods, whilst the ornithomimids with strain more similarly to extant ostriches with apparent convergent appearance of functional modules in these groups (Cuff and Rayfield, in revision). I also supervised MSc projects and was responsible of teaching many of the analytical techniques I used to new and visiting students.

M.Sci. Palaeontology and Evolution, University of Bristol. 2006 – 2010.
During the undergraduate degree programme, aspects of both biology and geology were studied in depth. This includes many facets of evolution, palaeontology, sedimentology, geological mapping and field work, statistics, and three research projects. The first of these was carried out as an independent library project assessing the effects of sea level and rock record on reconstructions of the Cenozoic diversity of chondrichthyans. The second project assessed speciation of the Lake Malawi cichlid genus Diplotaxodon using geometric morphometrics. The final, my MSci project, assessed the shape and efficiency of spinosaurid rostra in relation to supposedly convergent crocodilians (Cuff and Rayfield, 2013)

Teaching

2014-Present – Assistant roles at RVC
  • For the biomechanics course I have taught a lecture on modelling/simulation, led practicals on scaling, and carried out a critical paper review with the students.
  • Guided a dissection of elephant feet for undergraduate students.
2014-2016 – Assistant roles at UCL
  • Assisted in a practical class for first year students studying vertebrate evolution at UCL
  • Lecture in UCL undergraduate course GEOL3036 Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Patterns on methods in biomechanics.
  • Two Earth Sciences MSci workshops on three-dimensional methods in palaeontology
2010-2014 – Demonstrator in practical classes at University of Bristol
  • I helped MSc students with practical classes including Vertebrate Palaeontology, Taphonomy and Palaeoecology, Introduction to Geology for Palaeobiologists, and Functional Morphology.
  • Helped supervise several local fieldtrips around Bristol including Aust, Avon Gorge and Almondsbury.

Project Supervising

2014-Present
  • Ongoing MRes project on body mass estimation of Paraceratherium
  • Ongoing MSc project estimating body mass of pterosaurs using convex hull methods (Bristol).
  • Two BSc projects at RVC on felid locomotion and posture changes with body size involving gathering of force plate data from captive animals.
  • BSc literature project at UCL on dinosaurian tooth loss.
2012-2014
  • Three MSc projects at University of Bristol on cranial function in the crocodilian Isisfordia, the pliosaur Pliosaurus kevani, and the crurotarsan Effigia.

Publications

Published
  • Cuff AR, Goswami A, Hutchinson JR. 2017. The 3D reconstruction of the extinct North American lion, Panthera atroxPaleontologia Electronica 20.2.23A.
  • Randau M, Cuff AR, Hutchinson JR, Pierce SE, Goswami A. 2017. Regional differentiation of felid vertebral column evolution: a study of 3D shape trajectories. Organisms, Diversity & Evolution 17, 305-319.
  • Cuff AR, Stockey C, Goswami A. 2016. The endocranial morphology of the extinct North American lion (Panthera atrox). Brain, Behavior and Evolution 88, 213-221.
  • Cuff AR, Sparkes EL, Randau M, Pierce SE, Kitchener AR, Gosawmi A, Hutchinson JR, 2016. The scaling of postcranial muscles in cats (Felidae) I: forelimb, cervical and thoracic muscles. Journal of Anatomy 229, 128-141.
  • Cuff AR, Sparkes EL, Randau M, Pierce SE, Kitchener AR, Gosawmi A, Hutchinson JR, 2016. The scaling of postcranial muscles in cats (Felidae) II: hindlimb and lumbosacral muscles. Journal of Anatomy 229, 142-152.
  • Randau M, Goswami A, Hutchinson JR, Cuff AR, Pierce SE. 2016. Cryptic complexity in felid vertebral evolution: shape differentiation and allometry of the axial skeleton.  Biological Journal of Linnean Society 178 (1), 183-202. DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12403.
  • Halliday TJD, Cuff AR, Prasad GVR, Thanglemmoi MS, Goswami A, 2016. New record of Egertonia (Phyllodontidae, Elopiformes) from the Late Cretaceous of South India. Papers in Palaeontology DOI: 10.1002/spp2.1040.
  • Cuff AR, Bright JA, Rayfield EJ, 2015. Validation of the finite element method in an avian (Struthio camelus) skull. PeerJ 3, e1294.
  • Cuff AR, Randau M, Head J, Hutchinson JR, Pierce SE, Goswami A, 2015. Big cat, small cat: Reconstructing body size evolution in living and extinct Felidae. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28, 1516-1525.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, 2015 Retrodeformation and muscular reconstruction of ornithomimosaurian dinosaur crania. PeerJ 3, e1093.
  • Foffa D, Cuff AR, Sassoon J, Rayfield EJ, Mavrogordato MN, Benton MJ,  2014. Functional anatomy and feeding biomechanics of a giant Upper Jurassic pliosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from Weymouth Bay, Dorset, UK. Journal of Anatomy 225 (2), 209-219.
  • Foffa D, Sassoon J, Cuff AR, Mavrogordato MN, Benton MJ, 2014 Complex rostral neurovascular system in a giant pliosaur. Naturwissenschaften 101 (5), 453-456.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, 2013. Feeding mechanics in spinosaurid theropods and extant crocodilians. PLoS ONE 8(5): e65295. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065295
In review/In revision
  • Cuff AR and Rayfield E. The evolution of cranial function in Theropoda. Nature Ecology and Evolution
In preparation
  • Crole MR, Cuff AR, Allen V, Soley JT, Finite element modelling of rhamphothecal specialisations in the ostrich bill tip.

Conferences

Talks
  • Crole MR, Cuff AR, Allen V, Soley JT, Microscopy Society of Southern Africa 2016. Finite elemental modelling of the ostrich bill tip.
  • Cuff AR, Randau M, Pierce SE, Hutchinson JR, Goswami A, ICVM 2016, Big cat, weak cat? The scaling of postcranial myology within Felidae.
  • Cuff AR, SVP Berlin, Romer Prize session, October 2014. The functional mechanics of ornithomimosaur and theropod crania.
  • Cuff AR, Bright JA, Rayfield EJ, SICB San Francisco, January 2013. Finite element validation of an avian skull using ex vivo measurements.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, ProgPal Cambridge, May 2012. Ornithomimosaur cranial reconstructions and FE modelling.
  • Jones AS, Button DJ, Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, ProgPal, 2015. The cranial biomechanics of Effigia okeeffeae and its convergence with Ornithomimosauridae.
Posters
  • Cuff AR, Randau M, Pierce SE, Hutchinson JR, Goswami A, SVP Dallas, 3D approaches to carnivoran evolution poster symposium, October 2015, Reconstructing the evolutionary biomechanics of the felid postcranium.
  • Randau M, Cuff AR, Hutchinson JR, Pierce SE, Goswami A, SVP Dallas, 3D approaches to carnivoran evolution poster symposium, October 2015. Reconstructing the locomotory ecology of the American cheetah, Miracinonyx trumani, with linear and 3D analysis of vertebral morphology across living and fossil cats.
  • Jones AS, Button DJ, Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, SVP 2015. The cranial biomechanics of Effigia okeeffeae and its convergence with Ornithomimosauridae.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, ICVM Barcelona, July 2013. Functional mechanics of ornithomimosaurs.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, SVP Raleigh, October 2012. Functional mechanics of ornithomimosaurs compared to other theropods.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, SVP Las Vegas, November 2011. Validation of the finite element method on an avian skull and implications for dinosaurian modeling.
  • Cuff AR, Rayfield EJ, ProgPal Bristol, May 2010. A biomechanical assessment of gaviolid rostral convergence in Crocodylus cataphractus and a reassessment of spinosaurid piscivory.

Journal Reviewer 

  • PLoS One
  • The Science of Nature – Naturwissenschaften
  • Acta Palaeontologica Polonica
  • Journal of Anatomy
  • Palaeontology
  • Nature Ecology and Evolution
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • Journal of Zoology
  • PeerJ
(see publons for more details)

Minor Funding Awards

2012
  • Geologists’ Association New Researchers’ Award Scheme - £600
  • Bristol Alumni postgraduate travel grant - £400
2011
  • The Bob Savage Memorial Fund - £200

Field Work

2015, 2016 – Northwest Argentina
  • Four weeks across two seasons as part of a team prospecting a new area for new Cretaceous-Palaeogene fossil localities.
2014/15 – South India
  • Two weeks as part of a crew carrying out continued prospecting as part of a long term field project in Cretaceous localities. Discovered fish tooth plates never before found in India that led to a new publication (Halliday et al., 2016).
2011 – Dinosaur Provincial Park, Canada
  • Three and a half weeks with University of Alberta field crew spent mainly excavating a Daspletosaurus, as well as prospecting and cataloguing finds.
2010 – Hell Creek Formation, Montana
  • Two weeks with Museum of the Rockies field crew spent mainly excavating a Triceratops (Yoshi’s Trike), with some prospecting in the Lower Hell Creek too.

Outreach Work

2016-Present - Activities associated with RVC
  • Wild Cats Uncovered event where we dissected a cheetah for an audience of 250 people.
  • Open Days at the college where we have shown off our research at stalls.
  • Visited a local secondary school to talk to the students about dinosaurs and our research.
November 2014-Present – Blog: A (palaeo)biologist postdoc's views of the past, present and future. arcuff.blogspot.co.uk
  • A blog about my research and experiences as a young career researcher, now with over 22,000 views.
2014-2015 – Television
  • Story of Cats. ITV series aired 2016. Interviewed as part of the documentary looking at physiology of domestic cats.
  • Cat Watch 2014: The New Horizon experiment. Interviewed, and ran pressure plate and motion capture experiments with domestic cats to compare to their larger relatives.
2015 – Co-curator of Strange Creatures at the Grant Museum, UCL
  • Designed and created an exhibit as part of a four month exhibit at Grant Museum on the science behind modern reconstructions of dinosaurs
  • Gave an hour long lunch question and answer session to the general public on my work on dinosaurs, particularly my PhD and experiences in the field.
2009-2014 – Bristol Dinosaur Project through University of Bristol and STEM
  • Preparation work of Thecodontosaurus (the Bristol dinosaur) remains using acid digestion, fossil picking and cataloguing of finds.
  • Outreach work visiting over 1000 primary and secondary school children at local schools teaching young people about fossils, natural history and their local area through the use of presentations, jigsaw puzzles, replica dinosaur bones, and real fossils.
  • Science festivals and outreach days at Festival of Nature, Bath Taps into Science Festival, Arnos Vale, and the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Through the use of many of the activities from the schools, plus sand pits filled with fossils allowing anyone to dig up dinosaur bones, small group discussions and even casting of real fossils.
  • Open door days at the University of Bristol showing members of the public some of our research and doing many of the activities previously mentioned.
  • In collaboration with the Bristol Zoo Gardens dinosaur exhibits during the summer of 2012, I showed people some of the Bristol dinosaur bones, talked about the preparation work that is ongoing, showing them some material from Welsh cave deposits of some of the oldest mammals in the world, and generally talking and answering questions about fossils.
2009-2013 – Access Bristol
  • Showing potential students from the local area who would be the first to go to university from their families around the School of Earth Sciences. It allows us to talk to them about our studies, and engage them with some of the science we do in the department.
March 2012 – Discover
  • Helped with the Dinosaur Feather stall that allowed the general public to see the research that members of the School of Earth Sciences have done attempting to reconstruct the colour of dinosaurs based on their melanosomes in their fossil feathers.

References

Professor Emily Rayfield
Office IC123
Life Sciences Building
University of Bristol
24 Tyndall Avenue
Bristol BS8 1TQ
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1173941210
e.rayfield@bristol.ac.uk

Professor John Hutchinson
Structure & Motion Laboratory
The Royal Veterinary College
Hawkshead Lane
North Mymms, Hatfield
Hertfordshire AL9 7TA
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1707666313
jhutchinson@rvc.ac.uk

Professor Anjali Goswami
218A Darwin Building
Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment
University College London
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 2076792190 (32190)
a.goswami@ucl.ac.uk

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