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Colleen  Farmer

Phone: 801 581-4236

Colleen Farmer

BA Physics University of Idaho
PhD Physiology Brown University


Pulmonary fluid dynamics, cardiopulmonary physiology, evolutionary biology

Current Research

Work in my lab clusters around several foci pertaining to the evolution of the vertebrate cardiopulmonary system. One major aim is to understand aerodynamic valves in the lungs of vertebrates. The mechanisms underpinning the function of these valves appear to be Venturi effects and jetting, which arise from the arrangement of the bronchial tree, i.e., the tube diameters, branching angles etc. Unlike the mechanical valves in other parts of the body (e.g., leaflets of tissue such as in the outflow vessels of the heart or veins or the sphincters found in the gastrointestinal system), there are no moving tissues associated with these aerodynamic valves. We are developing computational fluid dynamic models as well as using experimental manipulations to understand the mechanisms and physiological importance of these valves. A second focus of the lab is application of knowledge gleaned from structure-function studies of extant animals to better understand the biology of extinct animals.

Selected Publications

Huttenlocker AK, Farmer CG, Bone Microvasculature Tracks Red Blood Cell Size Diminution in Triassic Mammal and Dinosaur Forerunners. Curr Biol 2017 Jan 9;27(1):48-54

Cieri RL, Farmer CG, Unidirectional pulmonary airflow in vertebrates: a review of structure, function, and evolution. J Comp Physiol B 2016 Jul;186(5):541-52

Farmer CG, Evolution: A lizard that generates heat. Nature 2016 Jan 28;529(7587):470-2

Farmer CG, Unidirectional flow in lizard lungs: a paradigm shift in our understanding of lung evolution in Diapsida. Zoology (Jena) 2015 Oct;118(5):299-301

Farmer CG, Similarity of Crocodilian and Avian Lungs Indicates Unidirectional Flow Is Ancestral for Archosaurs. Integr Comp Biol 2015 Jul 3;:

Farmer CG, The Evolution of Unidirectional Pulmonary Airflow. Physiology (Bethesda) 2015 Jul;30(4):260-72

Riede T, Li Z, Tokuda IT, Farmer CG, Functional morphology of the Alligator mississippiensis larynx with implications for vocal production. J Exp Biol 2015 Apr;218(Pt 7):991-8

Cieri RL, Craven BA, Schachner ER, Farmer CG, New insight into the evolution of the vertebrate respiratory system and the discovery of unidirectional airflow in iguana lungs. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014 Dec 2;111(48):17218-23

Schachner ER, Cieri RL, Butler JP, Farmer CG, Unidirectional pulmonary airflow patterns in the savannah monitor lizard. Nature 2014 Feb 20;506(7488):367-70

Schachner ER, Hutchinson JR, Farmer C, Pulmonary anatomy in the Nile crocodile and the evolution of unidirectional airflow in Archosauria. PeerJ 2013;1:e60

Sanders RK, Farmer CG, The pulmonary anatomy of Alligator mississippiensis and its similarity to the avian respiratory system. Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2012 Apr;295(4):699-714

Farmer CG, On the evolution of arterial vascular patterns of tetrapods. J Morphol 2011 Nov;272(11):1325-41

Schachner ER, Farmer CG, McDonald AT, Dodson P, Evolution of the dinosauriform respiratory apparatus: new evidence from the postcranial axial skeleton. Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2011 Sep;294(9):1532-47

Riede T, Tokuda IT, Farmer CG, Subglottal pressure and fundamental frequency control in contact calls of juvenile Alligator mississippiensis. J Exp Biol 2011 Sep 15;214(Pt 18):3082-95

Farmer CG, The provenance of alveolar and parabronchial lungs: insights from paleoecology and the discovery of cardiogenic, unidirectional airflow in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Physiol Biochem Zool 2010 Jul-Aug;83(4):561-75

Farmer CG, Sanders K, Unidirectional airflow in the lungs of alligators. Science 2010 Jan 15;327(5963):338-40

Uriona TJ, Lyon M, Farmer CG, The importance of the M. diaphragmaticus to the duration of dives in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Zoology (Jena) 2009;112(4):263-9

Uriona TJ, Farmer CG, Recruitment of the diaphragmaticus, ischiopubis and other respiratory muscles to control pitch and roll in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). J Exp Biol 2008 Apr;211(Pt 7):1141-7

Farmer CG, Uriona TJ, Olsen DB, Steenblik M, Sanders K, The right-to-left shunt of crocodilians serves digestion. Physiol Biochem Zool 2008 Mar-Apr;81(2):125-37

Uriona TJ, Farmer CG, Contribution of the diaphragmaticus muscle to vital capacity in fasting and post-prandial American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). J Exp Biol 2006 Nov;209(Pt 21):4313-8

Farmer CG, On the origin of avian air sacs. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 2006 Nov;154(1-2):89-106

Uriona TJ, Farmer CG, Dazely J, Clayton F, Moore J, Structure and function of the esophagus of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). J Exp Biol 2005 Aug;208(Pt 16):3047-53

Farmer CG, Reproduction: the adaptive significance of endothermy. Am Nat 2003 Dec;162(6):826-40

Farmer CG, Hicks JW, Circulatory impairment induced by exercise in the lizard Iguana iguana. J Exp Biol 2000 Sep;203(Pt 17):2691-7