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Photo by Gail Patricelli, Yellowstone National Park

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, I received a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Rochester. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Animal Behavior Graduate Group at the University of California – Davis, where I work with Dr. Gail Patricelli.

Ongoing PhD Research

Sexual selection can lead to some of the most extreme diversity in the animal kingdom. Over time, the focus of sexual selection research has broadened from looking only at an organism’s physical traits to understanding the role of behavior in these systems. In some cases, males are able to strategically adjust their behavior in order to increase their mating success.

Male greater sage-grouse strutting.

My dissertation research aims to understand how males’ courtship behavior changes in response to changes in the social environment (the presence and behavior of others) and the structure of the habitat. To best investigate these behaviors, I use a free living population of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Wyoming as a model system.

Robotic sage-grouse hen, photo by Gail Patricelli.

Using innovative technologies — biomimetic robotic sage-grouse hens, acoustic playbacks, and TLS (terrestrial laser scanning)– my research involves conducting experimental manipulations of courtship encounters in grouse, and measuring behavioral responses to our treatments. Using fine-scale, 3-D renderings of the grouse’s mating grounds, we can quantify relevant habitat metrics and relate these measurements to courtship behaviors.

Prior Research

Photo of Anolis distichus by Rich Glor

As an undergraduate, I was a research intern for the Glor Lab at the University of Rochester. In this lab, I worked with then graduate student Julienne Ng to investigate the correlation between environmental variation and display traits in Anolis lizards.

Additionally, I completed a summer internship with the Wilkinson Lab at the University of Maryland, working with Gerry Carter. Using recordings, we examined the acoustic variation within vampire bat social calls.

My first year at Davis was spent working with Dr. Andrea Townsend, assisting with a breadth of research projects on the local population of American Crows.