Nicole Grunstra is a biological anthropologist, interested in the interaction between evolutionary processes (both adaptive and neutral), evolutionary constraints, and variational properties in giving rise to macroevolutionary patterns of trait evolution. Nicole first used such a 'holistic' approach in her doctoral dissertation on phenotypic diversification in macaques (Primates: Macaca) at the University of Cambridge (UK). To this end, she studied phenotype-environment associations using traditional morphometrics, multivariate statistics, and phylogenetic comparative methods. She has since added the use of geometric morphometrics and other digitization techniques to her repertoire. Her main theoretical interest concerns the definition, usage and detection of phylogenetic 'constraints', phylogenetic 'effects', and phylogenetic signal.
Nicole's current projects include the decomposition of primate cranial shape into components that differentially preserve phylogenetic history, adaptation, and ontogenetic trajectories, as well as a comparative study of pelvic morphology in relation to neonatal size in bats (Chiroptera). Her proposed research at the KLI is devoted to the study of the human and non-human mammalian pelvis in pursuit of resolving the 'obstetric conundrum' of why the human birth canal evolved to be narrow relative to the size of our neonates, with a special focus on the pelvic floor hypothesis.