Kalei Vicars

Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Bloch
Florida Museum of Natural History
"I became involved with this research because I am fascinated by the way in which the body adapts to its environment. I believe that understanding the process of morphological adaptations can help provide insight to how evolution occurs."





Research Interests

  • Evolution
  • Genetics
  • Epidemiology

Academic Awards

  • Florida Academic Scholar 2015-2016
  • Dean's List 2016
  • University Scholars Program 2016


  • Epsilon Sigma Alpha
  • FLMNH Volunteer
  • Delta Zeta


  • Hope Lodge
  • St. Jude 5K
  • Guardian Angels

Hobbies and Interests

  • Art History
  • Evolution
  • Mentoring
  • Hiking

Research Description

Comparative Analysis of Rodent Dental Patterns from Glacial and Interglacial Periods
In this research, I will compare tooth cusp patterns between fossil rodents from the last glacial period and rodents from the present day to determine differences in tooth shape. To determine differences in tooth shape between and within rodent species, I will perform quantitative comparisons using 3D images of teeth from three rodent species: Hispid Cotton Rat (Sigmodon hispidus), Oldfield Mouse (Peromyscus polionotus), and Cotton Mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus). Because these species survived both glacial and interglacial periods, comparing their dentitions will help us understand dental evolutionary changes that occurred during the transition from glacial to interglacial periods. Our results will be directly applicable to other mammalian species, helping to increase our knowledge on evolutionary responses to climate change.