Sheila Patek is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley). Her research probes the interface of physics and evolution, specifically the evolutionary biomechanics of movement and communication. Recently, she has examined systems such as the violinlike mechanics of spiny lobster sound production, the mechanics of jaw-jumping in ants, and the extreme predatory strikes of mantis shrimp.
During the Radcliffe fellowship, Patek will study the evolutionary history of sound production in arthropods. Specifically, she will apply existing knowledge about the acoustic biomechanics of living arthropods to the intriguing fossil evidence of ancient sound-producing structures, with the goal of reconstructing ancient sounds and illuminating the early history and evolutionary diversification of acoustic communication.
Patek received her AB with honors in biology from Harvard University and her PhD in biology from Duke University. She was awarded a Miller Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Berkeley. She has received several honors, including the George A. Bartholomew Award for distinguished contributions to comparative physiology and a spot on Popular Science’s third annual “Brilliant 10” list. Her research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Hellman Family Foundation, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.