Matthew O'Neill


PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 2008
(631) 444-8381


     Dr. O’Neill is a biological anthropologist specializing in comparative biomechanics, with a particular emphasis on the evolution of metabolism (locomotor costs; daily energy expenditure) in humans, apes and lemurs. Metabolism provides an important link between musculoskeletal variation and behavioral ecology. His research uses a combination of comparative and lab-based (experimental and computational modeling) techniques to link anatomical structure to locomotor performance.

He is currently involved in two multi-year projects:
Through a collaborative NSF HOMINID grant (with researchers at Stony Brook, U Mass), he is measuring metabolic cost and muscle function in chimpanzees and humans, and combining these data with dynamic simulation of fossil hominins. The broad aim of this work is to better understand the selective pressures that drove the origins and evolution of hominin locomotion, as well as improve our abilities to predict the kinematics, cost and ranging behavior of the earliest hominins.

He is also investigating the physiological basis of walking, running and climbing, using lemurs as model nonhuman primates (with researchers at Duke, WVSOM, Dartmouth). This work includes measurements of daily energy expenditure using doubly-labeled water, as well as observations of activity budgets in free-ranging lemurs.

He also maintains active research interests in bone biology and the comparative method.