Justin S. Sipla, PhD

Portrait
Associate of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Associate of Neurology

Contact Information

Primary Office
1-B046 A ML
Iowa City, IA 52242
319-384-1188

Education

BA, Anthropology, University of California
MS, Basic Health Sciences, Stony Brook University
PhD, Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University

Research Summary

My research focuses on the evolution of the semicircular canals in birds, nonavian dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and bats, using computed tomography and other medical imaging techniques to assess functional morphology. The size, shape, and planar orientation of the canals show attunements to preferred planes of movement, and correlate strongly with degree of locomotor maneuverability. This provides unique insight into the pattern of neurosensory adaptation associated with adoption of volant behaviors among primitive fliers, compared with non-volant antecedents and secondarily flightless species. Collaborative work on nonavian dinosaurs is helping to differentiate bipedality from quadrupedality at the neural level.

Recently, I have begun investigating vestibular and neurocognitive dysfunction in human athletes suffering from traumatic brain injury. This is leading to the development of a collaborative research program at UI, aimed at using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine axonal twisting and shearing post-concussion in injured athletes. The goal is to better understand how structural and neurometabolic damage resulting from collision produces behavioral dysfunction, and to promote multidimensional approaches to concussion assessment and management.

Publications

Georgi, J. A., Sipla, J. S. (2008). Balance: comparative anatomy and physiology in secondarily aquatic reptiles and birds. In J. G. Thewissen , S. Nummela (Eds.) Senses on the Threshold. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Sipla, J. S., Spoor, F. (2008). The physics and physiology of balance. In J. G. Thewissen , S. Nummela (Eds.) Senses on the Threshold. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Sipla, J. S. (2007). The semicircular canals of birds and non-avian theropod dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Suppl. 27, 147.