Ashley Heer

Division of Biological Sciences
University of Montana
Missoula, MT, 59812
Lab: (406) 243-6834
FAX: (406) 243-4184


  • Ph.D., 2013 (Organismal Biology and Ecology) University of Montana
  • B.S. with Honors, 2007 (Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity) University of California, Davis, CA.
  • A.B. with Highest Honors, 2007 (Geology) University of California, Davis, CA.

Academic Postions

  • 2009-2013: University of Montana, Teaching Assistant, Division of Biological Sciences
  • 2010-2011: University of Montana, Research Assistant, Division of Biological Sciences
  • 2007: University of California, Davis, Research Intern, Department of Geology
  • 2004: University of California, Davis, Research Intern, Department of Geology

Service and Outreach

Student Outreach

  • Grammar school. Served as a Science Olympiad coach for “Rocks and Minerals”, “Fossils”, and “Dynamic Planet” events at Palo Verde Union School (Tulare, CA) (1999 – 2007). Helped give a demonstration of recent scientific techniques to students from Washington Middle School (Missoula, MT) (April 2011).
  • High school. Helped give a demonstration of recent scientific techniques to students in the Upward Bound program, an organization designed to encourage high school students to attend college (summer 2010). Served as a Science Olympiad mentor to students from Corvallis High School (Corvallis, MT), for the “Rocks and Minerals” event (fall 2011).
  • Undergraduate level. Collaborated with Dr. Bret Tobalske as a teaching assistant for “Vertebrate Design and Evolution” to help groups of students conduct original scientific experiments and learn modern scientific techniques (2009-2011); results of one experiment were presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research(Klaasen Van Oorschot et al. 2010), while a second experiment served as a pilot study for an analysis that has recently been published (Heers et al. 2011).
  • Graduate level. Serve on a committee of graduate students who invite and host, for one week, a distinguished scientist elected by the graduate student body (2009-present). Lead / co-lead a graduate student reading group that meets once per week to discuss papers and prepare for a weekly seminar given by visiting professors (2010-present).

Public Outreach

  • Provided the History Channel with sketches of trends in theropod evolution, which were used in the popular episode Evolve: Flight (2008).
  • Helped give a presentation on modern scientific techniques and recent discoveries to journalists during the Society of Environmental Journalist’s 20th Annual Conference (October 2010).
  • Hosted two photographers from National Geographic and helped them obtain photos of birds in flight (summer 2010) for an article on feather evolution, which was released in February of 2011.
  • One of four invited speakers at the Montana Audubon Society’s Natural History Lecture Series (March 2011).

Grants and Awards

  • 2013: National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology ($140,000)
  • 2012: National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant ($12,346)
  • 2012: Jackson Grant ($400)
  • 2012: Mary R. Dawson Grant ($300)
  • 2012: Bertha Morton Fellowship ($3000)
  • 2012: Chapman Grant ($1,995)
  • 2012: D. Dwight Davis Award for best student oral presentation (Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting)
  • 2007: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship ($90,000)
  • 2007: University Medalist (University of California, Davis)
  • 2007: Department Citation for Outstanding Performance in Evolution and Ecology (University of California, Davis)
  • 2007: Department Citation for Outstanding Performance in Geology (University of California, Davis)
  • 2007: Outstanding Student Award (Association for Women Geoscientists)
  • 2006: James & Leta Fulmor Scholarship ($3000)
  • 2003: First Year Scholar (University of California, Davis)
  • 2002: Regents Scholar (University of California, Davis) ($16,000)
  • 2001: National Merit Scholar

Selected Papers

Research Interests On a broad scale, I am interested in functional morphology, and the development and evolution of locomotor capacity and performance. My work currently focuses on locomotion in birds and their theropod ancestors. After completing my Ph.D. I plan to continue this line of research, first as a post-doctoral student and then as a professor.