Ph.D., University of Toronto, Canada (1997)
Major research focus is on the use of physics-based functional morphology to probe physical constraints behind the evolution of animal shapes. Questions along this line include: what made tunas, lamnid sharks, cetaceans, and ichthyosaurs all look similar in silhouette; what constraints were behind the long necks of elasmosaurs (long-necked plesiosaurs)? Complementary research topics cover phylogenetics, systematics, and their integration with physical functional morphology. Taxonomic strength is in Mesozoic marine reptiles, especially ichthyosaurs (Ichthyopterygia), and field experiences mostly in Mesozoic marine deposits.
Motani, R, D-y Jiang, A Tintori, O Rieppel and G-b Chen (2014) Terrestrial Origin of Viviparity in Mesozoic Marine Reptiles Indicated by Early Triassic Embryonic Fossils. PLOS ONE. 9(2):6. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088640
Peng-Fei, Y, J Cheng, J Da-Yong, R Motani and S Zuo-Yu (2012) A New Species Of Qianichthyosaurus (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) From Xingyi Fauna (ladinian, Middle Trassic) of Guizhou, Southwestern China. JOURNAL OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY. 32:197-198.
Schmitz, L, S Hinic-Frlog and R Motani (2012) Glossy Feathers And Nocturnal Activity: Inference Of Microraptor Feather Colors Using a Phylogenetic Framework. JOURNAL OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY. 32:167-168.