Julia A Clarke

Julia A Clarke
Professor and Jackson Chair in Geobiology, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Chair in Geobiology (Holder)
John A. Wilson Professorship in Vertebrate Paleontology (Fellow)

Office: JGB 3.216DA, JGB
Mailcode: C1100

Julia Clarke is John A. Wilson Professor in Vertebrate Paleontology in the Jackson School of Geosciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Her research focuses on using phylogenetic methods and diverse data types to gain insight into the evolution of birds, avian flight and the co-option of the flight stroke for underwater diving. She is particularly interested in understanding shared patterns and potential causal factors in the evolution of living bird lineages. Recently, her work is focused on unravelling the origin and evolution of the avian vocal organ.

The Clarke Lab seeks new data to inform how avian diversity and distributions have changed across their deep histories. International collaborations and fieldwork (e.g., in Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Antarctica, Mongolia and China) provide new fossil data to approach these questions.

Areas of Expertise

Evolution of anatomical novelty, vertebrate paleontology, systematic biology, avian vocalization and the evolution of flight, fossil birds. Dinosaurs.

Research Locations

Current Research Programs & Projects

Wings to Flippers - Phylogenetics, character acquisition, and feather biomechanics in the evolution of wing-propelled diving

Early ornithurine bird evolution

Evolution of flight

Fellow (FRSB) - Royal Society of Biology (2018)

Elective Member, an honorary membership category that recognizes contributions to ornithology - American Ornithological Society (2017)

Provost's Teaching Fellow - The University of Texas (2016)

Humboldt Research Award - Humboldt Foundation (2016)

Outstanding Research Award - Jackson School of Geoscience (2013)

Knebel Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award - Jackson School of Geosciences (2012)

Gigapan Science Outreach Fellow - Fine Foundation/NASA/Carnegie Mellon Robotics (2010)

Outstanding Faculty Member Engaged in Extension Award - North Carolina State University (2008)

NSF Research Highlights - OISE Directorates (2007)

G.G. Simpson Award - Yale University (2006)

Argentine Fulbright Commission, 50th anniversary volume, distinguished alumna (2006)

NSF Research Highlights - OPP Directorates (2005)

Sigma Xi - Full Associate Member - Brown University (2004)

G.G. Simpson Award - Yale University (2001)

Orville Prize-best dissertation in the Earth Sciences - Yale University (2001)

Estwing Hammer Prize for outstanding research in Geology - Yale University (2000)

Hutchinson Prize Fellowship for Biospheric Studies - Yale Institute (2000)

Henry Gardiner Ferguson Fellowship in Geology - Yale University (1999)

Graduate Student Fellowship - National Science Foundation (1997 - 2000)

Arnold Prize Fellowship for undergraduate achievement and an original research project ($15,000; declined to accept Fulbright Grant). - Brown University (1995)

Sigma Xi - Brown University (1995)

Phi Beta Kappa - Brown University (1994)

Associate Editor, Science Advances, Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, Evolution (2018)

Associate Editor, Paleobiology (2013)

Co-Editor in Chief, Journal of Anatomy (2012 - 2018)

Editor in Vertebrate Morphology, Zoologischer Anzeiger (2011 - 2012)

Executive Committee, Member-At-Large, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2008 - 2011)

Operations Committee, Member-At-Large, National Center for Evolutionary Synthesis (NESCent.org) (2007 - 2008)

Session moderator, Meetings of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2006 - 2007)

Editor in Vertebrate Morphology and Paleontology, Journal of Anatomy (2005 - 2011)

Chair, Predoctoral Fellowship Committee, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2004 - 2006)

Sigma Xi Grants, Aid of Research, Committee (2004)

Governing Council, Member-At-Large, International Society of Phylogenetic Nomenclature (2004 - 2006)

Predoctoral Fellowship Committee, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2003 - 2008)

Co-convener, "Missing Data- Practical Problems and Theoretical Issues" Symposium, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2000)

Organizing committee member and moderator, "New Perspectives on the Origin and Early Evolution of Birds: an International Symposium in Honor of John H. Ostrom,", Yale Peabody Museum and Yale University Department of Geology and Geophysics (1999)

NSF Panelist: Systematics (BIO),

NSF Referee: Systematics (BIO), Paleobiology (EAR), and Polar Programs (OPP),

NERC Referee, UK: Fellows Program,

National Geographic Society, Exploration Fund Referee,

One current postdocs, four graduate students and an array of undergraduate researchers are focused on broad questions concerning evolutionary morphology and the deep time diversification of birds.

Right now we are focused on the evolution of early bird lineages, feathering and wing morphology, wing propelled diving and the origin of bird song. Some student projects are focused on other archosaur lineages and other character systems such as the evolution of armor.


Lucas J Legendre

Xia Wang, 2013 - 2015, University of Jinan
Assistant Professor

Daniel Ksepka, 2007 - 2009, Columbia University, (PhD) now Postdoctoral Associate, NESCENT

Chad Eliason

Sterling Nesbitt

Graduate Students

Christopher Torres, Ph.D. (Co-supervisor)
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

Sarah Davis, Ph.D., 2022 (Supervisor)
Jackson School of Geosciences

Grace Musser, Ph.D., 2022 (Supervisor)
Jackson School of Geosciences

Jasmine Nelson, M.S., 2021 (Supervisor)
Department of Geosciences, UT Austin

Lauren English, Ph.D., 2018 (Supervisor)
Department of Geosciences, UT Austin

James Proffitt, Ph.D., 2018 (Supervisor)
Department of Geosciences, UT Austin

Zhiheng Li, Ph.D., 2015 (Supervisor)
Department of Geosciences, UT Austin

Katherine Browne, M.S., 2014 (Supervisor)
Department of Geosciences, UT Austin

A.J. DeBee, Ph.D., 2012 (Supervisor)
Department of Geosciences, UT Austin

Drew Eddy, M.S., 2008 (Supervisor)
"New information on the skull of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis and the phylogenetic relationships of the Allosauroidea"

Clint Boyd, Ph.D., 2005 (Supervisor)
"Taxonomic revision of the North American neorithischia, implications for ornithischian phylogeny"

Adam Smith, Ph.D., 2001 (Supervisor)
"Phylogeny and evolution of extinct and extant Alcidae (Aves, Charadriiformes)"

Undergraduate Students

There are always about 5 undergraduate doing reseach in the lab. They are typically listed on my CV. I started an undergraduate "research fair" in paleontology where we link up faculty, graduate students and undergraduate collaborators across the program.

See CV,

2022Fall GEO 382E Scientific Research Design
2022Fall GEO 322E Scientific Research Design
2021Fall GEO 405 Life Through Time
2021Spring GEO 391 Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn-Wb
2021Spring GEO 371T Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn-Wb
2020Spring GEO 391 Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2020Spring GEO 371T Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2019Fall GEO 405 Life Through Time
2019Spring GEO 391 Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2019Spring GEO 371T Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2018Fall GEO 405 Life Through Time
2018Spring GEO 291 Asian Monsoon
2018Spring GEO 391 Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2018Spring GEO 371T Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2017Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2017Fall GEO 405 Life Through Time
2017Spring GEO 391 Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2017Spring GEO 371T Rsrch Dsgn/Data Anly/Visltn
2016Fall GEO 405 Life Through Time
2016Spring GEO 391 Rsch Mthd/Anly/Vis Paleobio
2016Spring GEO 371T Rsch Mthd/Anly/Vis Paleobio
2014Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Systematic Paleontol
2014Fall GEO 391 Avian Anatomy
2014Fall GEO 371C Avian Anatomy
2014Fall GEO 405 Life Through Time
2014Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Systematic Paleontol