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Joan Richtsmeier

Joan Richtsmeier

Distinguished Professor of Anthropology

320 Carpenter Building
Office Phone: (814) 863-0562

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. B.A., St. Mary’s College 1977
  2. M.A., University of Nebraska 1980
  3. Ph.D. Northwestern University, 1985


Areas of Specialization:

Richtsmeier Lab MembersDr. Richtsmeier has worked on the problem of determining the contribution of growth pattern to morphology.  Methods developed to study this problem have been applied to the difference in craniofacial growth patterns between  primate species, between the sexes, and between children with craniofacial anomalies and unaffected children.  Dr. Richtsmeier is currently working to characterize the relationship between the genes mutated in premature cranial suture fusion (craniosynostosis) and the craniofacial phenotypes associated with these mutations.  Finally, Dr. Richtsmeier is working to understand the influence of aneuploidy in the production of the phenotype by studying a mouse model for Down syndrome.

Research Activities and Interests:

Dr. Richtsmeier’s current interests include variation in the shape of biological structures, especially of the skull and the brain, and the genetic pathways that underlie that variation.  Dr. Richtsmeier is currently using evolutionary developmental approaches to study the evolution of the interrelationship between brain and skull focusing on specific gene networks that might be responsible for observed change.  Understanding the importance of precise morphological data, Dr. Richtsmeier and collaborators have developed statistical methods for studying shape and shape variation in three dimensions.  These have been applied to the study of skull and brain shape in different diseases that affect the brain and the skull. Typically we use three-dimensional images of the brain (magnetic resonance images) and of the skull (computed tomographic images) of patients with these diseases or  micro- 3D images of animals that have been created in the laboratory to mimic these diseases.

Students in osteology 410 baked a skull cake complete with anatomical labels to celebrate the end of semester.Courses Taught:

  • Anth 083S Freshman Seminar
  • Anth 410 Osteology (Syllabus)
  • Anth 463 Morphometrics
  • Anth 466 The Skull (Syllabus)

Recent Publications:

  • Aldridge, K, CA Hill, JR Austin, C Perival, N Martinez-Abadias, T Neuberger, Y Wang, EW Jabs, JT Richtsmeier  2010  Brain phenotypes in two FGFR2 mouse models for Apert syndrome.  Devel Dyn, 239:987-997.

  • Wang, Y,  M Sun, V Uhlhorn, X Zhou, I Peter, N Martinez-Abadias, C A Hill, C J Percival, JT Richtsmeier, D L Huso, E W Jabs 2010 Activation of p38 MAPK pathway in the skull abnormalities of Apert syndrome 
    Fgfr2+/P253R mice. BMC Developmental Biology, 10:22 (22 Feb 2010).

  • Willmore, KE, CC Roseman, J Rogers, JT Richtsmeier, JM Cheverud  2009 Genetic variation in baboon craniofacial sexual dimorphism.  Evolution, 63(3):799-806.

  • Hill, CA,  TE Sussan, RH Reeves, JT Richtsmeier  2009  Complex contributions of Ets2 to craniofacial and thymus phenotypes of trisomic“Down Syndrome” mice.  Am J Med Genet,  Part A 194: 2158-2165.

  • Buchanan, AV, S Sholtis,  JT Richtsmeier, KM Weiss  2009  What are genes ‘for’ or where are traits ‘from’? What is the question? Bioessays, 31:198-208.

  • Aldridge KA, RH Reeves, LE Olson, JT Richtsmeier  2007  Differential effects of trisomy on brain shape and volume in related aneuploid mouse models.  Amer. J. Med. Genet., 143A:1060-1070.

  • Willmore, KE, NM Young, JT Richtsmeier  2007  Phenotypic variability: its  components, measurement, and underlying developmental mechanisms.  Evolutionary Biology, 34(3-4): 99-120.

  • Richtsmeier JT,  KAAldridge, VB DeLeon, J Panchal, AA Kane, JL Marsh, P Yan, TM Cole III   2006  Phenotypic integration of neurocranium and brain. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 306B:1-19.

  • Aldridge KA, SA Boyadjiev Boyd, GT Capone, VB DeLeon, JT Richtsmeier 2005 Precision and error of three-dimensional phenotypic measures acquired from 3dMD photogrammetric images.  Amer. J. Med. Genet, 138A:247-253.

  • Wang, Y, R Xiao, F Yang, BO Karim, AJ Iacovelli, J Cai, CP Lerner, JT Richtsmeier, JM Leszl, CA Hill, K Yu, DM Ornitz, J Elisseeff, DL Huso, EW Jabs  2005  Abnormalities in cartilage and bone development in the Apert syndrome FGFR2+/S252W mouse. Development, 132: 3537-3548.

  • Aldridge, K, AA Kane, JL Marsh , J Panchal, SA Boyd, P Yan, D Govier, W Ahmad, JT Richtsmeier  2005  Brain morphology in non-syndromic unicoronal craniosynostosis. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol 285:690-698.

  • Richtsmeier, JT,  TM Cole, III, S Lele  2005  Landmark morphometrics and the analysis of variation.  In, Variation: A Central Concept in Biology, B Hallgrimsson and BK Hall, eds., Elsevier Academic Press, Boston,. Pp 49-68.

  • Richtsmeier, JT, S. Lele, TM Cole, III  2005 An invariant approach to the  study of  fluctuating asymmetry :  developmental instability in a mouse model for Down syndrome.   In, Modern Morphometrics in Physical Anthropology, D Slice,  Ed., Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers Series, Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects, RH Tuttle, Ed., Pp. 187-212.

  • Olson, L, JT Richtsmeier, J Leszl, RH Reeves  2004  A chromosome 21 critical region does not cause specific Down syndrome phenotypes.  Science, 306: 687-690.

  • Richtsmeier, JT, VB DeLeon, S Lele  2002  The promise of geometric morphometrics.  Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 45: 63-91.

Research Interests

Craniofacial development, Craniosynostosis, Genetics of craniofacial development, and Genotype-phenotype correspondence