Skip to Content

Join Adams lab

Current projects | Teaching activities | Student research projects

Our lab is a rather unique and special group within both the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and within Monash University. We approach an extremely wide range of species and research questions, and integrate an incredibly diverse range of technologies to try and answer them. We aren’t afraid to tackle incredibly challenging, unusual or exotic research projects – hence the incredible diversity and range of active areas of research across our lab pages.

As a group that spans traditional descriptive and comparative anatomy through advanced imaging-based ‘cyberanatomy’ and quantitative study, we support (and encourage) our lab members to undertake ‘first of its kind’ research projects to explore a true renaissance that is currently occurring in the anatomical sciences that is having incredible impacts in evolutionary biology, palaeontology, and anatomical education.

Although we have strong linkages to both national and international researchers and lab groups, we have a particularly active and strong collaboration with the EvoMorph lab headed by Assoc Prof Alistair Evans in the School of Biological Sciences; particularly through our shared cohort of PhD students who are undertaking some amazing, ground-breaking studies of living and extinct Australian mammal species. We also have strong connections with Museums Victoria, and are very proud of our ability to showcase the value of the invaluable Palaeontology and Mammalogy collections through our research.

We encourage you to explore the content of our lab website, but equally appreciate that this is just what’s currently going on; our interests, questions, methods and ideas are constantly changing (and really driven by the students who join our cohort). So if you have questions – just ask! And if you have always had a passion for understanding the natural world through biology and/or palaeontology, there’s probably a spot for you in our lab.

Whether you want to research, invest, donate or partner with us to accelerate our life-changing discoveries, we'd be delighted to hear from you. We have opportunities for PhD students, post docs and senior researchers to join our lab. Feel free to contact Dr Adams with any queries.

Industry involvement

Perhaps surprisingly for a lab oriented around comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology and palaeontology – we actually do engage with industry! Part of our research area represents the intersection between advanced imaging technologies and applications to anatomy, including anatomy education. Our lab has been a major component of the larger Centre for Human Anatomy 3D Printing lab which is operated within the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, which has been a world-leader in advancing practical applications for 3D printing. Our initial research into the space has resulted in commercial contracts with global distribution and sales through our partners Erler-Zimmer and Mentone Educational with more series currently in development and increasingly expanding into complex training and simulation.

At the same time, we have engaged directly with the imaging powerhouse Sectra AB to distribute primary anatomy educational content through their Education Portal. This has produced an unparalleled radiographic database of medical anatomy tied to educational content ranging from descriptions, to fully labelled 3D models and educational videos. We continue to advance our interactions with Sectra and see many unique anatomy education products on the horizon.

Donate to our lab

Donors can work with us to make an impact.

Help disease-ravaged communities continue to deliver critical anatomical education. Prof Paul McMenamin, in his role as Director of the Centre for Human Anatomy Education and co-investigator of the 3D Printing Project, took 3D printed anatomy specimens to Ebola-ravaged Liberia. We are regularly asked by other groups who operate poorly-funded medical schools in the developing world to provide similar educational materials as an alternative to cadaver-based instruction (given the challenges and risks of such programs in the developing world). The impact of being able to distribute such teaching tools to future doctors-in-need globally cannot be overstated.

But equally, our research into living and recently extinct marsupials has highlighted an important impact of our investigation into the adaptations of these species well-beyond just the academic interests. Our imaging-focused approach to research provides one of the only ways to research recently extinct marsupials like thylacines, pig-footed bandicoots and lesser bilbies. It also represents a way to take advantage of Australia’s extensive museum collections for establishing information about Australia’s living marsupial species given that the vast majority of native Australian species representing Threatened, Vulnerable, or Near-Extinct populations. Ultimately, our research into the functional anatomy and ecology is providing important information about the biology and evolutionary history of lineages on the cusp of extinction. By understanding the adaptations of these species we can provide insight on the habitat requirements, dietary needs, and susceptibility to local and broader patterns of ecosystem change.

Selected funding groups

We gratefully acknowledge the funding given to our lab by the following groups:

  • Australian Research Council
  • Leakey Foundation
  • National Science Foundation
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation

Teaching activities

I have been a human and comparative anatomy educator since 2003. As Deputy Director of the Centre for Human Anatomy Education, I play a central role in the oversight of anatomy education across the Clayton and Churchill campuses of Monash University. This includes both aspects of administration under the Director and Head of Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology. During my period at Monash University, I have contributed to nearly every anatomy course managed through the Centre for Human Anatomy Education, and currently my primary role is as course coordinator and educator within the Anatomy component of the graduate-entry medical program of the School of Rural Medicine.