• Twitter Handle:
• My position with AOS:
• My current full-time title and institution:
Director of Science and William A. and Nancy R. Klamm Endowed Chair of Ornithology, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
• My current career stage:
• My lineage of mentors/labs:
My long-time mentor, Wallace Coffey, was a marketing director at a local newspaper in northeastern Tennessee, and a naturalist in his spare time. He encouraged me to reach out to professors who taught classes that I particularly liked, and that led to field work on birds in the Everglades with Stuart Pimm and lab work on fish genetics under Gary McCracken and David Etnier, all at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. My Ph.D. was with Bob Zink at the University of Minnesota, with additional mentoring from Scott Lanyon (also UMN) and Bob Kennedy (then at Cincinnati Museum of Natural History).
Within a single species, birds differ from place to place, and I use their DNA to understand how and why.
• My favorite bird and why:
Black-capped Chickadee; familiar, acrobatic, and full of personality. Once they’re in the hand, they are the angriest animal on the planet.
• I am involved with AOS because:
AOS has been my home society since college. The society publishes and communicates great science, and welcomes students into ornithology.
• The best part about being a member of AOS is:
Annual meetings are amazing – they are social, intense, fun, and full of exciting discoveries.
• Birds are important to me because:
I’ll never stop being amazed by migration. Birds pull off incredible feats of endurance and navigation, and connect the hemispheres.
• Advice I have to offer a student (master’s level or younger) in ornithology:
Read a peer-reviewed paper every day. Read widely; don’t just get hyper-focused on your narrow study subject.
• One ornithology question or problem I would like to solve or see solved:
How do we make the majority of people care about declining birds and their habitats?
Also, I’d like to know why I cannot find a Yellow-eared Toucanet, even after a dozen visits to Central America. This is getting ridiculous.
• Fun random fact about myself:
I am quite obsessed with eBird, and I try to submit at least one checklist every day.