University of Southern Indiana

CV

Kyle R. Mara, Ph.D.

kyle.mara@usi.edu

 

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology

University of Southern Indiana

Evansville, IN 47720

Education

January 2015 – August 2015:  Postdoctoral Fellow.  Temple University.  Improving Learning and Retention in Basic Biology Courses.  Advisor Avi Kaplan and Jennifer Cromley

 August 2010 – July 2013:  Postdoctoral Fellow.  Temple University.  Bipedal Locomotion on Unsteady Surfaces.  Advisor S. Tonia Hsieh.

 August 2010:  PhD Biology – University of South Florida.  Evolution of the Hammerhead Cephalofoil: Shape Change, Space Utilization, and Feeding Biomechanics in Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrnidae).  Advisor Philip J. Motta.

 May 2003:  BS Biology (Summa Cum Laude with Distinction) (Marine Emphasis, Minors: Environmental Studies and Geoscience)– Southeast Missouri State University

Research Interests

My research interests can be broadly defined as vertebrate functional morphology and biomechanics.  I am particularly interested in how differences in structure translate to changes in performance.  My past and current research illustrates two themes that investigate the relationship among structure, function, and performance: 1) the evolution of novel head and feeding morphologies and the consequences of changes in head morphology on feeding biology (kinematics, morphology, and biomechanics) and 2) the effects of differences in center of mass position (as a result of morphological, kinematic, or postural changes) on locomotor biomechanics.  I am also quite interested in improving teaching and learning in STEM classes through the use of educational interventions and collaborations with colleagues in Educational Psychology.

Professional Positions

2015 – Present Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Southern Indiana

2015 – 2015 – Postdoctoral Fellow in Educational Psychology, Temple University

2012 – 2015 AssistantAdjunct Professor of Biology, Temple University

2010 – 2013 Postdoctoral Fellow, Temple University

2008 – 2010 Graduate student representative to the faculty of the Department of Integrative Biology

2009   Graduate student representative on the “Plant Biologist” search committee

2007 – 2009 Member of the American Elasmobranch Society’s Student Affairs Committee

2006 – 2009 Research Assistant, NSF grant # IOS 0640133 University of South Florida

2003 – 2010: Teaching Assistant, University of South Florida

2002 – 2003 Ichthyology Laboratory Technician (Dr. Rex Strange), Southeast Missouri State University

Publications

In Prep/Submitted

Mara, K.R., F.E. Nelson, J.J. Cromley.   (In Prep For Journal of Biological Education). The effectiveness of recitation sessions in increasing student performance in introductory large lecture biology classes.

Mara, K.R. and S.T. Hsieh (In Prep For Journal of Experimental Biology).  Slip recovery in a dynamically stable bipedal runner.

Mara, K.R. and P.J. Motta, (In Prep For Journal of Morphology).  Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus in hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae).

Published

Mara, K. R. , P. J. Motta,  A.P. Martin, and R.E. Hueter.. (2015).  Constructional morphology within the head of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae).  Journal of Morphology 276: 526-539.

Motta, P.J., Maslanka, M., Hueter, R.E., Davis, R.L., De la Parra, R., Mulvany, S.L., Habegger, M.L., Strother, J.A., Mara, K.R., Gardiner, J.M, Tyminski, J.P., and Zeigler, L.D. (2010).  Feeding anatomy, filtering rate, and diet of ram surface filter feeding whale sharks Rhincodon typus off the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico.  Zoology 113: 199-212.

Lim, D.D., P. Motta, K. Mara, and A.P. Martin. (2010).  Phylogeny of hammerhead sharks (Family Sphyrnidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear genes.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55: 572-579.

Mara, K.R., P.J. Motta, and D.R. Huber. (2010).  Bite force and performance in the durophagous bonnethead shark, Sphyrna tiburo.  Journal of Experimental Zoology 313A: 95-105.

Lowry, D., A. Castro, K. Mara, L. Whitenack, B. Delius, G. Burgess, and P. Motta. (2009)  Identification of shark size from forensic analysis of bite damage.  Marine Biology 156: 2483-2492.

Motta, P.J., R.E. Hueter, T.C. Tricas, A.P. Summers, D.R. Huber, D. Lowry, K.R. Mara, M.P. Matott L.B. Whitenack, and A.P. Wintzer. (2008).  Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus, design constraint, and suction performance in the nurse shark Ginglymostoma cirratum.  Journal of Morphology 269: 1041-1055.

Funded Grants and Awards

2014    US Department of Education Grant: “Bootstrapping Achievement and Motivation in STEM: An Integrated Cognitive-Motivational Intervention to Improve Biology Grades” submitted to the Institute for Education Sciences, US Department of Education. Jennifer Cromley, PI($1,400,000) (Co-PI).

2010    Graduate Student Travel Award.  Mara, K.  University of South Florida.  $400

2009    Tharpe Fellowship for Graduate Student Research.  Mara, K.  University of South Florida.  $5,250

2009    American Elasmobranch Graduate Student Travel Award.  Mara, K.  $400

2008    Graduate Student Travel Award.  Mara, K.  University of South Florida.  $600

2007    National Science Foundation Grant: “Collaborative Research: The Function and Evolution of the Hammerhead Shark Cephalofoil”.  Philip Motta, Stephen Kajiura, and Andrew Martin Co-PIs.  IOS 0640133.  $233,937 (Co-wrote with Philip Motta)

2007    Graduate Student Travel Award.  Mara, K.  University of South Florida.  $400

2006    Established Researcher Grant “Biomechanical analysis of feeding mechanisms in hammerhead and reef sharks”.  Awarded to Philip J. Motta.  Written by K. Mara and L. Whitenack.  University of South Florida $4,309

2004    New Graduate Student Summer Support Grant.  Mara, K.  University of South Florida.  $5,000

2003    Undergraduate Research Grant.  Mara, K.  Photosensitivity in Ammocoetes (Agnatha) of the Least Brook Lamprey, Lampetra aepyptera.  Southeast Missouri State University.  $900

2002    Undergraduate Research Grant.  Mara, K.  Photosensitivity in Ammocoetes (Agnatha) of the Least Brook Lamprey, Lampetra aepyptera.  Southeast Missouri State University.  $500

Selected Contributed Presentations (15 Total)

Mara, K.R. and S. T. Hsieh.  What Differentiates Slip Recoveries From Slip Falls in Dynamically Stable Bipedal Runners?  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  San Francisco, CA.  7 January, 2013.

Mara, K.R. and S. T. Hsieh.  Slip perturbation recovery in the frilled dragon, a dynamically stable bipedal runner.  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  Charleston, SC.  6 January, 2012.

Parikh, S.C.**, Mara, K.R. and S. T. Hsieh.  Does the SLIP model apply to inverted running in cockroaches?  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  Charleston, SC.  4 January, 2012.

Mara, K.R. and P.J. Motta.  Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus in hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae): a phylogenetic perspective.  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  Salt Lake City, UT.  7 January, 2011.

Mara, K.R. and P.J. Motta.  Feeding morphology and bite force generation in hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae).  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  Seattle, WA.  3 January, 2010.

Mara, K.R. and P.J. Motta.  Evolution and function of the hammerhead cephalofoil I: The evolution of cranial form.  89th Annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.  Portland, OR.  22 July, 2009.

Motta, P.J., Maslanka, M., Hueter, R.E., Davis, R.L., De la Parra, R., Mulvany, S.L., Habegger, M.L., Strother, J.A., Mara, K.R., Gardiner, J.M, Tyminski, J.P., Zeigler, L.D.  Filter feeding in the world’s largest fish: form, function and diet.  89th Annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.  Portland, OR.  22 July, 2009.

Mara, K.R., P.J. Motta, and J.A. Pfeiffenberger**.  Constructional constraints In sphyrnid sharks: shape change and space utilization through phylogeny.  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  Boston, MA.  3 January, 2009.

Mara, K.R., P.J. Motta, and D.R. Huber.  Bite force and performance in the durophagous bonnethead shark, Sphyrna tiburo.  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  San Antonio, TX.  2 January, 2008.

Mara, K.R., P.J. Motta, and D.R. Huber Durophagy in the bonnethead shark, Sphyrna tiburo: an ecomorphological conundrum.  87th Annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.  St. Louis, MO.  12 July, 2007.

Mara, K.R. And P.J. Motta Morphometric head shape comparison among hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae).  The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology.  Phoenix, AZ.  3 January, 2007.

Motta, P., R. Hueter, D. Huber, D. Lowry, K. Mara, M. Matott, L.B. Whitenack, and A. Wintzer.  (2005).  Suction performance and feeding biology of the nurse shark Ginglymostoma cirratum.  85th Annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.  Tampa, FL.  6 July, 2005.

Motta, P., R. Hueter, T. Tricas, A. Summers, M. Matott, D. Lowry, K. Mara, L.B. Whitenack, and A. Wintzer. (2004).  Functional morphology, suction performance, and the enigma of protrusion in the nurse shark Ginglymostoma cirratum.  7th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology. Boca Raton, FL.  29 July, 2004.

** Denotes Undergraduate Student

Teaching Experience

  •          Comparative Anatomy (USI, BIOL 342): laboratory and lecture
  •          Principles of Biology (USI, BIOL 141): laboratory
  •          Biology for Educators (USI, BIOL 108): lecture and laboratory
  •          Introductory Biology (Temple University, BIO 1111): laboratory, recitation session, lecture (500+ student lecture
  •          Experimental Marine Biology (Temple University, BIO 3244): laboratory coordinator and lecture (~30 student lecture)
  •          Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II (USF, BSC 2093, 2094): laboratory and guest lecturer
  •          General Physiology (USF, PCB 3713L): laboratory
  •          Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (USF, ZOO 3713): laboratory
  •          Biological Diversity I & II (USF, BIO 2011, 2012): laboratory

Honors and Awards

2005    Certificate of Recognition: University of South Florida Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant

2003    Best empirical research paper/presentation at the 11th Annual Southeast Missouri State University Student Research Conference

2003    BS Biology (Summa Cum Laude with Academic Distinction) Southeast Missouri State University

2002    Recognized as best presenter in Zoology section at Indiana Academy of Science 118th Annual Meeting.

2001 – 2005  Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (Undergraduate and Graduate)

2000 – 2003  Southeast Missouri State Beta Beta Beta (Biology Honor Society) – Vice President 2002/2003

Invited Seminars and Lectures

Mara, K.R.  (21 October, 2010): “Evolution of the Hammerhead Cephalofoil: Shape Change, Space Utilization, and Feeding Biomechanics in Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrnidae).” Department of Biology, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA.  Invited Seminar

Mara, K.R.  (17 February, 2010): “Why the weird head?: Feeding morphology in hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae).” Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.  Invited Seminar

Mara, K.R. and P.J. Motta. (22 July, 2009): “Evolution and function of the hammerhead cephalofoil I: The evolution of cranial form.” 89th Annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.  Portland, OR.  Invited speaker, American Elasmobranch Society Functional Morphology Symposium.

University of South Florida (Spring 2004): “The Human Cardiovascular System:  Vessels and Blood Flow.”  Human Anatomy and Physiology II BSC 2094.  Guest Lecturer

University of South Florida (Fall 2004): “Terrestrial Feeding in Vertebrates.”  Ecological and Functional Morphology BSC 5931.  Guest Lecturer

Media Consulting

Fall 2007 – National Geographic: Hammerhead shark consultant: “Shark Superhighway”

Fall 2005 – United Kingdom Television: Hammerhead shark consultant: “Shark Watch: Live”

Professional Societies

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (2006-Present)

American Elasmobranch Society (2003-2012)

Journal Referee

  • Journal of Experimental Zoology
  • Marine and Freshwater Research
  • Integrative and Comparative Biology

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