rachel olson
rachel's Bio

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of long-term fellow Dr. Pauline Provini on the “Birdsong for human(e) voices” project. I am interested in how animals, and especially their soft-tissues, create movement. I am also interested in how we can improve the methods available to study these movements. My work focuses on comparative biomechanics and how we can relate results from animal models to human health. 

My dissertation at Ohio University focused on the biomechanics of the mammalian tongue during different behaviors (i.e., chewing and drinking). The tongue is difficult to visualize in the oral cavity, so I used biplanar x-ray video methods with soft tissue implants in the tongue to observe and quantify 3D tongue deformation and movement relative to 3D jaw motions in seven mammalian species. I found differences in the timing of tongue movements during different behaviors in the pig, demonstrating different strategies in bolus handling. I also showed that there are differences in tongue-jaw coordination across different mechanisms of fluid ingestion, suggesting that current classifications (i.e., sucking, lapping) do not accurately capture the variation observed across modern mammals.