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Lab Members and Their Projects

Ph.D students
Masters/Postgraduate students
Undergraduate researchers
Postdoctoral
Research Associate
Alumni

 

 

Ph.D. students (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, City University of New York)

Elliot Aguilar
(eaguilar@gc.cuny.edu)

Elliot received his BA in Physics from Harvard University in 2004.  Before switching to Biology, he worked in geophysical research at the United States Geological Survey, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  His interests include population genetics and the use of phylogenetic methods for investigating human language evolution. He is currently developing a coalescent (backwards genealogical) model to chart the course of cultural evolution.

Download Elliot's cv

Publications:

  • Shindell, D. T., G. Faluvegi, A. Lacis, J. Hansen, R. Ruedy, and E. Aguilar. 2006. Role of tropospheric ozone increases in 20th-century climate change. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres 111:D08302, doi:10.1029/2005JD006348.
  • Shindell, D. T., G. Faluvegi, N. Unger, E. Aguilar, G. A. Schmidt, D. M. Koch, S. E. Bauer, and R. L. Miller. 2006. Simulations of preindustrial, present-day, and 2100 conditions in the NASA GISS composition and climate model G-PUCCINI. Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics 6: 4427-4459.

M. Aaron Owen
(mowen@gc.cuny.edu)

Aaron received a BS in Biology from Northern Illinois University in 2008, where he worked on parasitoid wasp mating behavior in Bethia King's lab. He moved on to his Master's work on mate choice in zebrafish in Rick Howard's lab at Purdue University, receiving his degree in 2010. He is a behavioral ecologist interested in sexual selection, particularly in the evolution of mating preferences. He is currently in India studying sexual selection and social behavior in the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus).

Download Aaron's cv

Publications:

Chenghui Ju
(jch0913@hotmail.com)

House finches exhibit vast geographic variation in song composition and syllable types. Chenghui's major research goal is to design a computational approach to study the song structure of the house finch, in order to facilitate the comparison of patterns of song variation among populations over time and space. Chenghui is broadly interested in cultural evolution and the divergence of learned traits such as bird song and human language. Before coming to the lab she worked on cephalopod behavior and cognition with Jenny Basil at Brooklyn College. Recently Chenghui released the beta version of her acoustic analysis software, FinchCatcher.

Download Chenghui's cv

Publications:

  • Ju, C. and C. Huang. 2006. Alarm behavior: altruism or egoism. World of Life 198:70-77.
  • Basil, J., G. Barord, C. Ju, L. Travis, T. Vargas. 2012. A synthetic approach to the study of behavior in chambered nautilus. VIE ET MILIEU: Life and Environment 61.4. Part of the series Behaviour in Cephalopods: Underlying Mechanisms and Methodological Approaches. Eds. Michael Kuba, Tamar Gutnick and Sigurd V. Boletzky.
  • Barord, G., C. Ju, L. Travis, T. Vargas and J. Basil. 2012. A successful medical treatment for mucodegeneration in chambered nautilus, a previously fatal condition in this living fossil. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 43:636-639.
Franny Geller

Franny Geller
(fgeller@gc.cuny.edu)

Having graduated with a bachelors degree in Music from QC, Franny is making the transition from human song to birdsong to biology. Since joining the lab, she has developed materials for an Ethiopian Virtual Herbarium and implemented a new method of quantifying the appearance of bird eggs. Her main current research aims at discovering the developmental, demographic, and ecological fractors that underlie house finch song structure and cultural transmission.

See Franny's cv

Go to Franny's website

Masters/Postbaccalaureate researchers

Johanna Navarro

Johanna Navarro
(navajoh@gmail.com)

Johanna is studying the ecology and evolution of bird egg color. She is performing a comparative study of the egg color of the ratites (like the ostrich, rhea, and cassowary), the extinct elephantbird, and the tinamous. She is also performing a laboratory test to determine whether the sun changes the color of bird eggs.

Wendy Perez

Wendy Perez
(birdsonglahti@aol.com)

Wendy is recording geographic variation in house finch songs in California, building on the substantial datasets of Paul Mundinger (1982) and Jackie Song (2012). She also plans to record the birds in Hawaii in order to compare how songs change upon introduction to multiple new locations.

Seema Choudhary
(researchseema@gmail.com)

Seema is interested in medical anthropology. Her main current project is investigating original reports of local uses of woody plants in The Gambia in West Africa.  With the aid of photographs and video she is identifying the species to which these reports refer, comparing local uses with previously documented claims and evidence. In the process she has discovered several local medicinal uses of plants that have not yet been documented.

Stephanie Kandasami

Stephanie Kandasami
(stephanie_kandasami@yahoo.com)

Stephanie studies the divergence of moral codes between cultures. Using the Human Resource Area Files, an extensive ethnographic database, Steph is conducting pairwise comparative studies of the moral prohibitions of various African peoples, such as the Wolof and Bambara of West Africa.  The goal of this project is to determine how ecological and historical differences can underlie moral diversity.

Khaleda Khan
(khaleda.khan87@gmail.com)

Khaleda studies the behavior of African Ploceus weaverbirds. For her honors undergraduate thesis she compared the degree to which male village weavers (Ploceus cucullatus) spend time on survival vs. reproductive behaviors at a study site in Ethiopia. Her Master's project aims at comparing the pattern of cultural (song) divergence to genetic divergence among species of genus Ploceus. Khaleda is our lab manager.

See Khaleda's poster on sexual selection and daily activity in the African village weaverbird

Download Khaleda's cv

Jackie Milander
(jmilander100@qc.cuny.edu)

Jackie is studying the song of the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). This bird not only learns from other members of its species but also mimics other sounds. Jackie hopes to tease apart these two patterns of learning, and also to compare mockingbird repertoires in different geographical areas.

Download Jackie's cv

Alison Powell
(abromb@gmail.com)

Ali is tracing the development of song in young swamp sparrows, from the day they first start to make noise their first spring, until their song is crystallized at the beginning of summer. This will enable us to understand how learning integrates inputs from the genes and the environment.

Publications:

  • Evans, L. S. and A. Bromberg. 2010. Characterization of cork warts and aerenchyma in leaves of Rhizophora mangle and Rhizophora racemosa. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 136: 30–38.

Lizbeth Vazquez
(lvazq@yahoo.com)

Liz is our lab nurse. She also helps out with various projects in the lab, especially looking for birds and contributing to the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought.

Simon Lee
(lee.simon87@gmail.com)

Simon is building up Carpodacantus, our collection of songs of the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), for upcoming studies of cultural evolution. He is parsing, labeling, and preanalyzing recordings of this bird from the 1970s by the late Paul Mundinger. Simon is our lab photographer.

Gennesis Zuleta
(gzuleta@hollins.edu)

Genn is studying the variation in moral norms among West African cultures, particularly the Mossi and Kpelle, using the Human Resource Area Files and other ethnographic and anthropological data.  The goal of this project is to determine how ecological and historical differences can underlie moral diversity.

Undergraduate researchers

Mark Megerian, House finch cultural evolution, Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought (OBET)
Mark is our manager of contributions to OBET.

 

Several undergraduate students are involved in building up Carpodacantus, our collection of songs of the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus). These students are parsing, labeling, and preanalyzing historical recordings, especially the extensive collection of the late Paul Mundinger. Here are a few of the veterans:

Charles Maniego
Trisha Guduru
Julieana Steiner
 

Postdoctoral researcher

Andrew F. Richards
(africhards2.718@gmail.com)

Andy received his PhD from the University of Michigan for his study of the life history and behavior of female bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia. Since then he worked for many years with Richard D. Alexander, focusing on the evolution of human behavior, physiology, psychology and culture. Currently he continues this investigation into evolutionary explanations for human traits, and is also designing new projects in learned vocal communication and cultural change.



Alumni: Degree Recipients

Maureen Banach (BA, Biology, 2012)

Maureen was one of the pioneers (guinea pigs?) of our lab's foray into the analysis of vocal ontogeny in birds, focusing on the swamp sparrow.

Maureen is now a PhD student at the University of Rochester.

Bobby Habig (second BA, Biology, 2012)

Bobby precisely scrutinized a breeding colony of the village weaverbird, and managed to make discoveries about predator avoidance and female nesting behavior that are resulting in multiple publications.

Bobby is now one of our Collaborators, and a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame.

 

 

Other Selected Alumni

Jackie Song (Graduate, 2011-2013), House finch cultural evolution
Nardai Mootoo, (Undergraduate, 2010-2012), Moral diversity among West African cultures, Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought
Gianna McArthur (Graduate, 2011-2012), House finch cultural evolution
Lauren Adragna (Undergraduate, 2011-2012), Swamp sparrow vocal development
Sharon Slomovich (Undergraduate, 2009-2010), Swamp sparrow vocal development
Beata Rozbicka (Undergraduate, 2009-2010), Morality of the Bemba people of Zambia
Rita Monfort (Graduate, 2009-2011), Parasite epidemiology in baboons, Wolbachia-host coevolution, cuckoo-host coevolution, human evolution, and sperm competition in baboons.