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, DY Jiang, GB Chen, A Tintori, O Rieppel, C Ji and JD Huang (2014) A basal ichthyosauriform with a short snout from the Lower Triassic of China. NATURE. DOI: doi:10.1038/nature13866
Motani, R, DY Jiang, A Tintori, O Rieppel and GB 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.