CURRENT LAB GROUP MEMBERS AND AFFILIATES
Senior Associate Director for Academic Affairs, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Director, Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program
Director, Rose Postdoctoral Program,
Fuller Professor of Ornithology, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Director, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates
My personal research program centers on three broad topics: the generation and use of phylogenetic information for comparative studies of ecological and behavioral trait evolution and diversification patterns; the use of genomic information for the study of individual dispersal, population-level gene flow, hybridization, and speciation; and the generation of genetic information relevant to conservation and management issues.
I am responsible for the smooth sailing of the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program’s laboratory and the training of students and visitors using this facility. I am closely involved with most of our projects, from methodologically simple studies of avian sex ratios to our most ambitious ‘big data’ investigations of genome-wide patterns of divergence and gene flow.
I am interested in understanding the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity, both to answer basic questions in biology and to design effective conservation strategies. I approach this problematic using molecular tools to study the evolution of avian systems, generally in the early stages of speciation. I also use field ornithology methods and the comparative analysis of vocalizations and coloration. I have experience in a wide variety of genetic methods that allow the study of organisms with different degrees of divergence and sampled using different designs (e.g., individuals versus loci). These methods include phylogenetics, phylogeography, population genetics, landscape genetics, and genomics. A significant part of my work has focused on understanding species limits and patterns of introgression in an explosive radiation of South American finches in the genus Sporophila.
Director, Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program
My field-based research program focuses on an integrative understanding of how the environment shapes the evolution of complex social behavior, especially reproductive strategies and cooperation. I am particularly interested in the role of social behavior in population and evolutionary dynamics involving sexual selection, population differentiation, and adaptation to environmental change. My research is integrative, linking insights about the ecological and phylogenetic context of social behavior with the underlying neuroendocrine and molecular mechanisms. I combine hormone assays and genomic approaches with experimental manipulations and demographic field studies. I also draw on comparative and evolutionary approaches to explore the phylogenetic basis of social behaviors.
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow
Fuller Postdoctoral Fellow
I’m a biologist born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I’m currently a postdoctoral associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology working with the Lovette Lab. I’m fascinated by bird song, a complex behavior that varies a lot across species, and I’m interested in answering questions related to the evolution of song, in particular how different factors promote or constrain song diversification.
Rose Postdoctoral Fellow
I study the effects of parasites and pathogens on birds. My main research takes place in the Galápagos Islands, where I study how native finches and mockingbirds respond to introduced threats, such as avian pox and the nest parasite, Philornis downsi. I combine field studies with genomic and epigenomic toolkits in order to learn more about how birds defend themselves against attack.
Rose Postdoctoral Fellow
Rose Postdoctoral Fellow
I am curious about how animals manage their energetic needs under extreme circumstances. I am now investigating hummingbirds’ use of a shallow form of torpor. Torpor is an energy saving strategy that hummingbirds often use over night. They lower they body temperature and metabolic rates, spending as little as 2% of the energy they would spend without torpor. Mammals can drop their metabolic rate to varying extents—using torpor at various depths—but birds are not known to do the same. Over 40 species of birds are known to use some form of torpor, but each species is thought to have a minimum tolerable torpid body temperature that it will drop to, ambient temperatures permitting. Birds are not described to regulate their body temperature above that minimum in torpor, if ambient temperatures are close to or below their minimum body temperature. Hummingbirds have long been known to use deep torpor (dropping their core body temperature to between 6.5-20C). My collaborators and I recently discovered that hummingbirds are also capable of regulating their body temperature at an intermediate state between that of sleep and deep torpor (surface temperatures ranged between 19.5–29C). The occurrence of shallow torpor in these birds clearly capable of lowering their body temperature further indicates that they are balancing the costs (e.g. sleep deprivation, loss of immune function, predation) and benefits (energy savings) of deep torpor.
Graduate Student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2014-present
I am a PhD Candidate studying hybridization in northern flickers using genomic techniques to better understand the speciation process.
Graduate Student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2015-present
I’m a PhD candidate using phylogenetic comparative and genomic methods to study range expansion and its drivers in the European starling.
Graduate Student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2018-present
I am interested in the genomic mechanisms underlying avian phenotypes and their evolutionary patterns across space and time.
Graduate Student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2020-present
I am broadly interested in diversification in avian systems. For my dissertation, I plan to investigate population structure, phylogenomics, and local adaptation in the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). I am also an illustrator, and work to integrate illustration with research to better communicate topics in ornithology.
I’m a sophomore animal science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and am interested in research and veterinary medicine. I am working on investigating subspecies delineation in populations of five species of song sparrow around the San Fransisco Bay.
I am a sophomore in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying ecology and evolutionary biology, with a strong interest in ornithology. I am broadly interested in studying how anthropogenic and natural changes in birds’ environments influence their movements and their use of different habitats. I also work as a collections assistant in the Museum of Vertebrates, and am currently working with Shawn to age towhee specimens collected across the Great Plains hybrid zone. We plan to compare the relative ratios of second-year to adult birds among hybrids versus pure parentals to study how selection may be acting on hybrids across the zone.
I am a sophomore Biological Sciences Major with a concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences. I study mtDNA as a method to evaluate hybridization in two subspecies of the Australian Long-Tailed Finch, Poephila Acuticauda Acuticauda, and Poephila Acuticauda Hecki. I am interested in behavioral ecology and field research.
I’m a Biological Sciences major (class of 2022) concentrating in biodiversity and systematics. I’m interested in developing methods for the use of museum specimens in genomics research. I work with others in the lab to apply these methods to the Lovette Lab’s ongoing study of oriole hybridization in the Great Plains. I strongly believe in the value of museum specimens and previously worked in the CUMV as a collections assistant. My research interests include taxonomy, statistical methods in phylogenomics, population genetics, and sequence alignment.
I am a junior in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying environment and sustainability with a concentration in environmental biology and applied ecology. My research interests lie in population ecology and dynamics. Currently, as part of the Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program, I am studying how diets of 6 different bird species change over the course of the field season through DNA metabarcoding of fecal samples. I am also very interested in wildlife photography and documentary film to better communicate research to the public.
January 2020- present
As a senior at Dryden High School, I am working with the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Lab through the TST Boces New Visions Program in Life Sciences. The program provides seniors the opportunity to conduct research at Cornell University during their senior year. I am excited to have been accepted to Cornell in the Fall of 2020 and plan to study Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Currently I am conducting research on the conservation genetics of Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum). Skewed adult sex ratios can exacerbate population declines by limiting the ability of individuals to find mates and reproduce in monogamous species. My research examines the association between the sex ratio of nestlings and adults in a small, declining population of Grasshopper Sparrows at the Chester River Field Research Station in Maryland. Under the mentorship of Sara Kaiser, I am using genetic techniques to determine the sex from blood samples collected from 2005-2009 and examining demographic and environmental factors affecting changes in adult sex ratios from 1999-2014.
LOVETTE LAB ALUMNI