Aquatic Ecology & Evolution


Academic Interests

Tens of thousands of fish species inhabit diverse aquatic settings, partly due to the evolution of functional innovations. Such traits enable new interactions with the environment and enhanced access to resources, often promoting increased diversification. My research combines functional morphology, kinematics, and phylogenetic comparative methods to explore how key innovations impact patterns of disparity, integration,  and rates of evolution within musculoskeletal systems. I primarily focus on key innovations within the oral and pharyngeal jaws of fishes with the ultimate goal of understanding how major trait changes contribute to the incredible morphological, functional, and even lineage diversification seen across this vertebrate group. 

As a Black woman in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), I am no stranger to the systemic obstacles faced by historically marginalized students in STEM. Thus, in addition to my research, I am dedicated to fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) within EEB communities and higher education, more broadly. Recently, I leveraged my skills as an equity-focused leader, program developer, and educator to serve as the 2022-23 Graduate Advisor for DEIJ to the College of Biological Sciences Dean at the University of California, Davis. In this role, I developed and implemented initiatives to support equity and inclusion among the college's students, faculty, and staff. Most notably, I facilitated the inaugural Graduate DEIJ Leader Fellowship and Network, managed the new DEIJ Initiative Grant, and led a seminar course on systemic bias in bioethics. 

For more information about my research and DEI work, visit my LinkedIn or Google Scholar page!

Recent publications

Roberts-Hugghis, A.S., Burress, E.D., Lam, B., and Wainwright, P.C. (2023). The cichlid pharyngeal jaw novelty enhances evolutionary integration in the feeding apparatus. Evolution, qpad109. 

Donatelli, C.M., Roberts, A.S., Scott, E.R., DeSmith, K., Summers, D., Porter, M.E., Summers, A.P., & Tytell, E.D. (2021). Foretelling the Flex – Vertebral Shape Predicts Behaviors and Ecology of Fishes. Integrative & Comparative Biology, 61(2): 414–426.

Hodge, J.H., Song, Y., Wightman, M.A., Milkey, A., Tran, B., Štajner, A., Roberts, A.S., Hemingson, C.R., Wainwright, P.C., & Price, S.A. (2021). Constraints on the ecomorphological convergence of zooplanktivorous butterflyfishes. Integrative Organismal Biology, 3(1): obab014.

Roberts, A.S., Hodge, J.R., Chakrabarty, P., Wainwright, P.C. (2021). Anatomical basis of diverse jaw protrusion directionality in ponyfishes (Family Leiognathidae). Journal of Morphology, 282: 427-437. doi:10.1002/jmor.21314

Roberts, A.S., Farina, S.C., Goforth, R.R., and Gidmark, N.J. (2018). Evolution of skeletal and muscular morphology within the functionally integrated lower jaw adduction system of sculpins and relatives (Cottoidei). Zoology, 129: 59-65.