Home/News
Join us!
Lab members
Collaborators
Field sites
Projects
Publications
Resources

Lab Members and Their Projects

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

 

 

Ph.D. students

Danielle Wasserman
(danielleswasserman@gmail.com)

Danielle's main interests are comparative anatomy and animal diversity. Her varied research and technical experience began in her undergraduate days at Hartwick College, and has since included skeletal restoration at The Field Museum of Natural History and herp systematics at Southeastern Louisiana University. Her Master's thesis was entitled "Examining morphological variation of the hyoid apparatus in monitor lizards". For Danielle's doctoral research she continues to study hyoid ("tongue bone") evolution in reptiles-- this time avian ones! Danielle is also a biology laboratory manager at Yeshiva College and teaches Zoology at Kean University.

Go to Danielle's website

Mason Youngblood
(masonyoungblood@gmail.com)

 

 

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. His doctoral dissertation research is focused on the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus), in which he discovered rapid evolution by sexual selection following introduction from continental Asia to several oceanic islands. He has recently completed extensive field work in India, Hawaii, Jamaica, St. Croix, and Mauritius.

Download Aaron's cv

Go to Aaron's website

Franny Geller

Franny Geller
(frannygeller@gmail.com)

Having graduated with a bachelors degree in Music from QC, Franny is making the transition from human song to birdsong to biology. Her dissertation research involves an investigation of cultural lability (the rate and nature of cultuto which a trait culturally evolves) -- the degree to whcih r 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

Daniel Mann
(danmann23@gmail.com)

Coming to NYC from Arkansas where he received a B.A. in History and Spanish, Dan earned a Master's in Applied Linguistics from Columbia. He is now a candidate for a Linguistics Ph.D. here at CUNY, working with Juliette Blevins at the Graduate Center. Dan has performed research on language acquisition, phonetics and phonology, and comparative and historical linguistics. In our lab he is studying especially the permissivity of vocal learning in the house finch. He is currently interning in the laboratory of Tecumseh Fitch at the University of Vienna.

Jonathan Goodman
(jonathanrgoodman@icloud.com)

Jonathan is a postgraduate intern in evolutionary philosophy. He majored in behavioral biology & neuroscience at Emory University, and did his graduate work in philosophy at University College London and the University of London. His past work focused, among other things, on the degree to which evolutionary theory can explain morality and moral commands such as The Golden Rule. In our lab he will be pursuing conceptual clarity among various perspectives in the study of cultural evolution.

Masters/Postbaccalaureate researchers

Wendy Perez

Wendy Castillo
(birdsonglahti@aol.com)

Wendy is recording and analyzing geographic variation in an introduced population of house finch songs in Hawaii, and comparing them to those previously recorded in California. By so doing she will provide cultural evidence of their location of origin, and also determine how the Hawaiian birds' songs have changed since introduction.

Khaleda Khan
(khaleda.khan87@gmail.com)

Khaleda joined our lab at its inception in 2009, and as an undergraduate studied the behavior of African Ploceus weaverbirds. For her honors undergraduate thesis she characterized the behavior of male village weavers (Ploceus cucullatus) at a breeding colony in Ethiopia. She then spent three years as the Archivist of the Paul Mundinger house finch recording collection, training and leading dozens of undergraduate researchers in the identification and parsing of the songs of thousands of house finch individuals. Presently her Master's project focuses on the interaction of inherited and learned factors in the development of swamp sparrow song. Khaleda was our lab manager from 2011-2016.

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

Download Khaleda's cv

Jacqueline Milander
(jmilander100@qc.cuny.edu)

Jacqueline 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. Jacqueline is determining how the ambient sounds in particular local areas influence what a bird learns and sings.

Download Jacqueline's cv

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.

Eric Roginek
(eroginek@gmail.com)

Eric is broadly interested in behavioral mechanisms, and comes to us with a background in psychology. For his main Master's project he is analyzing house finch song variation in California (based on the recordings of Jackie Song) in order to determine the nature of its variation over space.

Ronveer Chakraborty
(ronveer.chakraborty@gmail.com)

Ronveer, who graduated from Queens College with a degree in Biology, now leads the West African moral diversity project, which aims to characterize and explain cultural variation in moral taboos among several peoples. He is currently researching the Tiv people.

 

Charles Maniego
(chaimaniego@gmail.com)

Charles has painstakingly aligned (in an analogous way to genetic aligment by hand) songs of house finches (recorded by Dr. Paul Mundinger) to assess the nature and extent of cultural "mutation". He received his BA in Biology and defended his Honors thesis in 2015, and remains with us as a postbaccalaureate continuing his study of within- and between-individual variation in house finch songs.

See Charles' poster on phonological assessment and variation in the song of the house finch

Natasza Fontaine
(nfontainester@gmail.com)

Natasza, who comes to us from A&E where she was a producer, and then the New York Botanical Garden where she has recently interned, is contributing artwork and text for a new lab project on birds in human culture. She is also engaged in the mockingbird project, recording birds and making behavioral observations.

Anna McPherran
(annamcpherran@gmail.com)

Anna recently graduated from the Honors Program here at Queens College, her thesis being an assessment of microscale effects of human land use on the phonological structure of house finch songs. She has since expanded the project to be an intensive study of the effect of urbanization on house finch song at several spatial scales across 17 cities in California (based on the recordings of Jackie Song).

See Anna's poster on land use effects on house finch song

Download Anna's CV

Christian Van Deurs
(christian.vandeurs44@qmail.cuny.edu)

Christian, a science teacher in the NYC school system, is performing a review of the various sorts of cultural traditions and cultural evolution that have been discovered in nonhuman animals, apart from bird song.

 

Sara Paccione
(sara.paccione@gmail.com)

Sara, a Master's student in English, is interested in J. R. R. Tolkien and children's literature. She is performing background research for several classic works of literature covered in the Reflections on Great Literature blog.

Undergraduate researchers

Michelle Mordukhaev, House finch cultural evolution, and the forthcoming CultEvol webpage. Michelle is our lab manager.

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

Sandy (Harsangeet) Gill, Interaction of learning and inheritance in the maintenance of rhythm in swamp sparrow song.
Amanda Goldstein, House finch cultural evolution, lab comedienne
Susie Yin, House finch cultural evolution
Ariella Kornreich, House finch cultural evolution
  Ruth Anam, House finch cultural evolution
  Stacy Wang, Head of the programming team for the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought
 

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

The students below have contributed to our research projects in the lab, and nearly all have achieved undergraduate or graduate degrees in the process; several other students not included here have worked in the lab over the years as well, as visiting researchers, trainees or assistants.

Teresa Wu (2015-2016; BA in Computer Science), software development for the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought

Giulietta Coppola (2015-2016; BA in Biology), house finch cultural evolution

Chenghui Ju (2011-2015; PhD., Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, 2015).

Chenghui was our lab's second defending doctoral student. She defended her dissertation, Cultural Evolution in Natural Populations: A Quantitative Bioacoustic Analysis, in July 2015. She has developed a software package for bioacoustic analysis, FinchCatcher. She now has a position at the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine.

Cheyenne Ganesh (2013-2015; BA in Biology and Honors thesis).

Cheyenne traced vocal development in several swamp sparrows, detailing implications for learned vs. inherited song features.

Daniele DeLeone (2014-2015; CUNY BA in Anthrozoology), cultural evolution and the Trolley Problem

Elliot Aguilar (2009-2015; PhD., Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, 2016)

Elliot was our lab's first doctoral student. He defended his dissertation,Models and Methods in Social and Cultural Evolution, in June 2015. He is now has a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is working in the laboratory of Erol Akçay.

Abudoula Nulumu (2014-2015), House finch cultural evolution. Abudoula also developed a mobile quiz game app for the lab and continues to collaborate with us on its development.


Johanna NavarroJohanna Navarro (2009-2015; MA, Biology, 2015)

Johanna was our lab's first Master's student. She performed and published experimental tests on the effect of light on bird egg color, and also conducted a comparative study of the evolution of egg color in ratites.

 

Gennesis Zuleta (2013-2014), morality of the Mossi and Kpelle people of West Africa.

Genn is now in the Master's Program in Psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Seema Choudhary (2009-2014; BA in Biology, and Honors Thesis, 2011)

Seema was one of our first three lab members (along with Stephanie and Khaleda). She studied original reports of local uses of woody plants in The Gambia in West Africa, and discovered several local medicinal uses that had not yet been documented.

Stephanie Kandasami (2009-2014; BA in Biology, and Honors Thesis, 2011)

Stephanie, one of our first three lab members (along with Seema and Khaleda), studied the divergence of moral codes between West African cultures, a daunting long-term project she began and led for five years, and that continues in our lab. Steph is now in the Master's of Public Health program at Columbia University.

Alison Bromberg Powell (2012-2014), Swamp sparrow vocal development

Bobby Habig (2011-2012; 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.

Trisha Guduru (2013), House finch cultural evolution
Simon Lee (2013-2014; BA, Biology, 2013), House finch cultural evolution
Julieana Steiner (2013-2014; BA, Biology, 2014), House finch cultural evolution; former lab comedienne

Maureen Banach (2011-2012; BA, Biology, 2012)

Maureen was one of the pioneers 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.

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