Professor Cheverud's research centers on evolutionary quantitative genetics and morphology. The research in quantitative genetics concerns the developmental and genetic constraints imposed on the rate and direction of evolution by heritable variation patterns and the evolution of genetic variation patterns themselves.
Current and planned future projects in this area involve both empirical and theoretical studies of the evolution of genetic correlations; maternal effects and kin selection; the genetics of somatic growth; the inheritance of brain surface morphology, and the heritability, genetic correlation and evolution of primate craniofacial morphology. His laboratory is currently studying the morphological genetics and systematics of New World Monkey species, specifically tamarins and marmosets, and of the Papionins. These studies involve measuring and mapping genetic variations in craniofacial morphology and the reconstruction of selection acting to produce craniofacial morphological diversity.
His laboratory has also been involved in studying both human and non-human primate craniofacial growth using advanced morphometric and data acquisition techniques, such as finite element scaling and three-dimensional reconstructions from CT scans. They have studied artificially deformed human crania in order to understand the interrelationship of facial and neural growth.
They are also pursuing experimental studies of the genetics of somatic growth, obesity, diabetes, long bone growth, bone biomechanical properties, tissue regeneration, and skeletal morphology in mice. These studies involve mapping the chromosomal locations of single genes with minor effects on traits using a combination of molecular and quantitative genetic techniques. They are particularly interested in pleiotropic, or manifold, effects of genes.