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Biological Sciences Profiles

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Richard Blob

Biological Sciences

Alumni Professor

Jordan Hall 400D [Research Laboratory Service]
Jordan Hall 400E [Research Laboratory Service]
Jordan Hall 400F [Lab]
Jordan Hall 400G [Lab]
Jordan Hall 400H [Lab]
Jordan Hall 400T [Research Laboratory Service]
Jordan Hall 401B [Greenhouse]
Long Hall 342 [Office]
Long Hall 342A [Office]
Long Hall 342B [Office]
Long Hall 342C [Office]


Educational Background

Ph.D., Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, 1998
M.S., Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, 1995
B.A., Individualized Studies (Paleobiology); Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 1992

Profile/About Me

Our lab studies the diversity and evolution of animal function. We are interested in questions about:

• How animals (and their parts) work

• How the ways that animals work affect their ability to survive

• How animal function varies to meet the demands of different environments

• How animal function has diversified and changed through evolution

To answer these questions, most of our research examines vertebrate muscle and bone function during locomotion, with a major focus on reptiles (especially turtles and alligators), amphibians, and fishes. Other work includes studies of fish feeding, vertebrate paleontology, and the mechanics and evolution of deer antler.

We use a wide range of techniques in these studies, drawing on experimental biomechanics (high-speed video, strain, EMG, force platforms, mechanical property testing), morphometrics (allometry, mechanical models of recent and fossil specimens), phylogenetic comparative methods, and field sampling.

Our lab participates in several professional societies, and is especially active in the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), and the International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists (ISVM). I currently serve as Chair of the Division of Vertebrate Morphology for SICB. I am also on the Editorial Boards of the journals Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Integrative Organismal Biology and the Journal of Morphology, serve on the Board for Clemson's Bob Campbell Geology Museum, and facilitate activities for Clemson's Bob and Betsy Campbell Museum of Natural History.

Research Group (Lab)

Masaya Iijima, Postdoc
Dani Adams, PhD student
Chase Kinsey, PhD student
David Munteanu, PhD student
Amanda Palecek-McClung, PhD student

Courses Taught

Vertebrate Biology (Lecture and Lab)

Service Learning in Vertebrate Biology

Comparative Vertebrate Morphology

Animal Biomechanics

Creative Inquiry: Comparative Musculoskeletal Biomechanics

Biomechanics Reading Group

Selected Publications

Palecek, A. M., H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2021. Sticking to it: Testing passive adhesive forces in waterfall-climbing fishes across challenging substrates. Journal of Experimental Biology 224: jeb228718. doi:10.1242/jeb.228718.

Blob, R. W., T. Baumann, K. M. Diamond, V. K H. Young, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2020. Functional correlations of axial muscle fiber type proportions in the waterfall-climbing Hawaiian stream fish Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Journal of Anatomy 236:1160-1166.

Blob, R. W., R. Lagarde, K. M. Diamond, R. M. Keeffe, R. S. Bertram, D. Ponton, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2019. Functional diversity of evolutionary novelties: insights from waterfall-climbing kinematics and performance of juvenile gobiid fishes. Integrative Organismal Biology 1:1-8 (doi:10.1093/iob/obz029).

Mayerl, C. J., A. M. Sansone, L. M. Stevens, G. J. Hall, M. M. Porter, G. Rivera, R. W. Blob. 2019. The hydrodynamic role of accessory structures as keels and rudders in turtles and their potential as models for biomimetic design. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 14:016002

Mayerl, C. J., K. E. Hicks, R. W. Blob. 2019. Differences in kinematic plasticity between freshwater turtle species underlie differences in swimming performance in response to varying flow conditions. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 127:762-770.

Young, V. K H., J. A. Baeza, R. W. Blob. 2019. Comparative limb bone scaling in turtles: phylogenetic transitions with changes in functional demands? Journal of Morphology 280:593-603.

Diamond, K. M., R. Lagarde, H. L. Schoenfuss, J. A. Walker, D. Ponton, R. W. Blob. 2019. Ontogenetic change in escape performance of fishes experiencing different predator regimes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 127:324-336.

Rubin, A. M., R. W. Blob, C. J. Mayerl. 2018. Biomechanical factors influencing successful self-righting in the pleurodire turtle Emydura subglobosa. Journal of Experimental Biology 221 (doi: 10.1242/jeb.182642).

Moody, K. N., S. M. Kawano, W. C. Bridges, R. W. Blob, H. L. Schoenfuss, M. B. Ptacek. 2017. Contrasting post-settlement selection results in many-to-one mapping of high performance phenotypes in the Hawaiian waterfall-climbing goby Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Evolutionary Ecology 31:489-516 (doi:10.1007/s10682-017-9889-0).

Mayerl, C. J., J. E. Pruett, M. N. Summerlin, A. R. V. Rivera, R. W. Blob. 2017. Hindlimb muscle function in turtles: is novel skeletal design correlated with novel muscle function? Journal of Experimental Biology 220:2554-2562.

Taft, N. K., H. Henck, B. N. Taft, K. M. Diamond, H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2017. Comparative morphology and mechanical properties of the lepidotrichia of climbing and non-climbing gobiid fishes from Hawaiian streams. Cybium 41:107-115 (invited contribution).

McInroe, B., H. C. Astley, C. Gong, S. M. Kawano, P. E. Schiebel, J. M. Rieser, H. Choset, R. W. Blob, D. I. Goldman. 2016. Tail use improves performance on soft substrates in models of early land locomotors. Science 353:154-158.

Blob, R. W., C. J. Mayerl, A. R. V. Rivera, G. Rivera, V. K H. Young. 2016. “On the fence” versus “all in”: insights from turtles for the evolution of aquatic locomotor specializations in tetrapod vertebrates. Integrative and Comparative Biology 56:1310-1322 (doi:10.1093/icb/icw121).

Diamond, K. M., H. L. Schoenfuss, J. A. Walker, R. W. Blob. 2016. Flowing water affects fish fast-starts: escape performance of the Hawaiian stream goby, Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Journal of Experimental Biology 219:3100-3105.

Mayerl, C. J., E. L. Brainerd, R. W. Blob. 2016. Pelvic girdle mobility of cryptodire and pleurodire turtles during walking and swimming. Journal of Experimental Biology 219:2650–58 (cover feature).

Young, V. K H., R. W. Blob. 2015. Limb-bone loading in swimming turtles: Changes in loading facilitate transitions from tubular to flipper-shaped limbs during aquatic invasions. Biology Letters 11, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0110.

Blob, R. W., N. R. Espinoza, M. T. Butcher, A. H. Lee, A. R. D’Amico, F. Baig, K. M. Sheffield. 2014. Diversity of limb bone safety factors for locomotion in terrestrial vertebrates: evolution and mixed chains. Integrative and Comparative Biology 54:1058-1071.

Rivera, A. R. V., R. W. Blob. 2013. Forelimb muscle function in pig-nosed turtles, Carettochelys insculpta: testing neuromotor conservation between rowing and flapping in swimming turtles. Biology Letters 9:20130471.

Kawano, S. M., R. W. Blob. 2013. Propulsive forces of mudskipper fins and salamander limbs during terrestrial locomotion: implications for the invasion of land. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53:283-294.

Kawano, S. M., W. C. Bridges, H. L. Schoenfuss, T. Maie, R. W. Blob. 2013. Differences in locomotor behavior correspond to different patterns of linear and nonlinear morphological selection in two species of waterfall-climbing gobiid fishes. Evolutionary Ecology 27:949-969.

Maie, T., H. L. Schoenfuss, R. W. Blob. 2012. Performance and scaling of a novel locomotor structure: adhesive capacity of climbing gobiid fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology 215:3925-3936. (Featured Inside JEB)

Blob, R. W., S. M. Kawano, K. N. Moody, W. C. Bridges, T. Maie, M. B. Ptacek, M. L. Julius, H. L. Schoenfuss. 2010. Morphological selection and the evaluation of potential tradeoffs between escape from predators and the climbing of waterfalls in the Hawaiian stream goby Sicyopterus stimpsoni. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50:1185-1199.


American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists
Sigma Xi
Society for Experimental Biology
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Society for the Study of Evolution
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

Honors and Awards

Alumni Distinguished Professor, Clemson University (2015-present)

Teacher of the Year - College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences (2006, 2013)

Chair - Division of Vertebrate Morphology, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (2021-2023)

Program Officer - Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (2015-2018)

Chair - Awards Committee, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (2013-2019)


Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Society for Vertebrate Paleontology
Campbell Museum of Natural History
Bob Campbell Geology Museum