Lab members



Jordan Karubian


CV September 2016 | Google Scholar Profile

Phone: (504) 865-5549

Office: Israel 306

Mail: 6823 Saint Charles Avenue
         Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
         400 Lindy Boggs Center
         New Orleans, LA 70118-5698



Graduate Students


Luke Browne, Ph.D. Candidate



I’m interested in how anthropogenic forces like deforestation impact biodiversity. My dissertation work is based in the remnants of Chocó forest in northwestern Ecuador and focuses on the canopy palm tree Oenocarpus bataua. I’m currently investigating the relative contributions of pollen and seed dispersal to gene flow in Oenocarpus in fragmented landscapes and the impacts of genetic characteristics and seed dispersal on Oenocarpus recruitment. I also collaborate on projects documenting the impacts of deforestation on species diversity of birds, palm trees, and mammals.


Samantha Lantz, Ph.D. Candidate



I am broadly interested in behavioral ecology and sexual selection. My dissertation research focuses on the relationship between non-breeding season ecological environment, social organization and phenotype in the red-backed fairwren (Malarus melanocephalus), with consideration of these relationships might carryover to influence fitness in subsequent seasons. I conduct this research in Darwin and Brisbane, Australia, and have coordinated the NSF International Research Experience for Students program in Australia for the lab. Find out more about IRES by visiting our research blog. Previously, I received my MS from Florida Atlantic University where I studied the effects of environmental factors on wading bird foraging in the Everglades, and I have done field work in Australia, Panama, Costa Rica, the Mariana Islands, and the US.


Brock Geary, Ph.D. Candidate



My current research examines relationships between brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) foraging behavior and fluctuating resource distributions in the Gulf of Mexico. Behavioral plasticity in foraging individuals may be necessary to adequately provision young, as availability of gulf menhaden, the pelican’s primary prey species, is highly variable across time and space during the breeding season. My primary field work uses biologging and individual-based modeling to determine how changing environments may influence the behavior of foraging birds, and how this interaction between environment and behavior impacts breeding success. In addition to its broader ecological implications, this work will also provide demographic forecasts for an important pelican colony under real and hypothetical scenarios, contributing to seabird conservation efforts throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico.


Erik Enbody, Ph.D. Candidate



I am interested in how selection (social/sexual) promotes female ornamentation in Malurus wrens. I study the White-shouldered Fairy-wren (Malurus alboscapulatus), a polymorphic species exhibiting variable female plumage around the island of New Guinea. Find out more about the work being done there by visitng the blog. Previously, I have worked in a variety locations in the American West, the American Tropics, and Australasia.


Zoe Diaz-Martin, Ph.D. Student


My research focuses on how gene flow and local adaptation act in concert to shape the distribution of genetic diversity and the evolutionary potential of Oenocarpus bataua. I will use microsatellite data and next generation sequencing/SNP data to investigate the mechanisms that promote gene flow within a population, examine how geographic and environmental variables drive genetic divergence between populations, and identify loci that are putatively under selection by environmental and climatic variables.


Sarah Khalil, Ph.D. Student


I am a first year Ph.D student and I am interested in using genomic techniques and behavioral ecology to study the evolution of visual sexual signals in fairy-wrens. Previously, I studied the behavioral ecology of superb starlings in Kenya through Dr. Rubenstein’s lab at Columbia University.


John Jones, Ph.D. Student



I am interested in behavioural ecology, competition, and communication (via birdsong and coloration). My current research focuses on how variation in ecological resources and social structure drives the evolution of female ornamentation of white-shouldered fairywrens. I will also look at closely-related bicolored fairywrens to determine the selective pressures driving the variation in social structure and coloration between fairywrens in Australia and Papua New Guinea. My previous research at Appalachian State University focused on chestnut-sided and golden-winged warbler interspecific aggression and misidentification.


Meredith Williams, 4+1 Masters Student

I am a +1 master’s student from Waldheim, Louisiana. Previously I received my bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in biological sciences. In the spring of 2016 I was involved in a project learning about behaviors of northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) with the guidance from Dr. Jordan Karubian and Dr. Renata Ribeiro. I observed northern mockingbird aggression at the nest in relation to lead (Pb) levels in the city of New Orleans. In the fall 2016 I am analyzing the data from the spring field season for the northern mockingbird project.




Trey Hendrix, IRES Student

I am a junior studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I participated in the IRES program during the summer of 2016, and my project involves the behavioral ecology of red-backed fairywren in Queensland, Australia. Currently, I hope to continue my studies of ecology in graduate school.


Darcy Gray, IRES Student

I am undergraduate studying Environmental Biology. I’m excited to be participating in the IRES program with the Karubian lab. My research project concerns the effect of urban noise on predatory vigilance in red-backed and variegated fairywrens.


Emma Saltzberg, Honors Thesis

I am a senior majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I study Northern Mockingbirds across different neighborhoods of New Orleans. More specifically, I am assessing the impact of lead exposure on their reproductive success and nestling viability. This year, I am writing my Honors Thesis on the results of my field work.


Michael Mahoney, Honors Thesis

I am a fourth year undergraduate studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I am interested in a variety of topics in ecology and evolution including anthropogenic disturbance, restoration ecology, plant-animal interactions, etc. This past summer I worked at Bilsa Biological Station in Ecuador as a research assistant, and will be writing an honors thesis about my summer project.


Tadeo Ramirez Prada, Honors Thesis

Originally from Santiago, Chile, I am a Senior double-majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics intending to pursue a PhD in Ecology/Evolutionary Biology/Mathematical Biology after graduation. I am writing my Honors Thesis on the effects of neighborhood structure on the reproductive phenology of the “mil pesos” palm, Oenocarpus bataua, under Dr. Karubian’s supervision. I aim to elucidate potential ecological drivers of the poorly understood asynchronous reproductive cycle of this species. Particularly, whether the reproductive stages of other members of the population (neighbors or relatives) affect the likelihood of individual trees entering the next phase of their reproductive cycle.


Miles Dakin, Independent Study

I am currently a senior and am working on a project looking at factors affecting reproductive effort in Oenocarpus bataua. Being both an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Computer Science major, I strive to use efficient and effective data analysis techniques to answer biological questions. I hope to pursue a PhD in Entomology after I graduate from Tulane.


Lab affiliates


Lorena Torres Martinez, Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist that is interested in studying the evolutionary potential of plant species to respond to projected climate change conditions. Specifically, I seek to understand how gene flow can shape the main source for adaptive potential to occur in response to new environmental conditions: the amount and distribution of genetic variation throughout species ranges. Currently, I am the Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary biology at Tulane University, in which I am designing and teaching two courses per year for graduate and senior undergraduate students -Plant Biology and adaptation (Fall semester) and Genomics and bioinformatics (Spring semester). In the Jordan Lab, I am working in collaboration with the PhD candidates Luke Brown and Zoe Diaz in understanding the fine-scale genetic structure of Oeonocarpus bataua, a native palm species to the tropical rainforest.


Olivia and Joaquin Karubian, Field operations

Olivia has a strong interest in fairy x princess reaction norms, and candy. Joaquin’s research focuses on dirt.


Former Post-docs and students


Jenny Hazlehurst, Graduate student

My research focuses on the interactions between hummingbirds and the plants they pollinate in the cloud and montane forests of Manu National Park, Per&uacute. Current research is focused on how plants budget resources to their reproduction to balance the effects of legitimate hummingbird pollinators and nectar-robbing flower-piercers on the plant’s reproductive success. I am also interested in how changes in pollinator community structure along altitudinal and human disturbance gradients impacts the reproductive strategy and success of Andean plants.


Nicole Moody, 4+1 Masters Student

Originally from a lake community in Michigan and more recently mountainous Utah, I’ve always had nature at my back door. A childhood of frog collecting and an innate fascination with the brain has led me to study Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Neuroscience. I’ve conducted lab based neuroscience research for over two years and I’m excited to gain my first ecology research experience as an IRES fellow this summer. I plan to attend graduate school and pursue a degree that combines my neurological and ecological passions.


Erik Iverson, 4+1 Masters Student

I am an honors thesis student investigating the role of bare-part ornaments such as color of the bill, eye, and legs in sexual signaling in birds. This project builds from my involvement in the Australia IRES program in 2013. Over the summer, I presented on my IRES research on red-backed fairy-wrens at the Wilson Ornithological Society meeting in Newport, RI, and I am preparing that work for submission to the Tulane Undergraduate Research Journal. 


Christine Jackson, FWS student

I am a work study student and currently a sophomore at Tulane University.  I assist the Karubian lab with organization, and I hope to travel to Ecuador this summer to help further their research.


Kym Ottewell, Post-doc

Kym is currently a fauna genetics research scientist at Department of Environment and Conservation in Western Australia and has worked previously at Tulane University in Louisiana, USA, and at the University of Adelaide and University of Wollongong in Australia. For more information, check out Kym’s website.


Tessa Roorda, Graduate student

Tessa Roorda conducted undergraduate education at Universidade Sao Paolo in Brazil. She has conducted research in Ecuador, Brasil, and the United States. Her thesis research focused on seed dispersal in forest fragments in her home state of Sao Paolo, Brazil. She enjoys adventure racing.


Mandy Peterson, 4+1 MS student

Mandy Peterson, 24, from Lakeville, MN (south suburbs of the Twin Cities), +1 masters student. Undergraduate in biology from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Worked on research with mockingbirds, learning about their behavior and dispersal around the micro-habitats of uptown New Orleans. Potential future directions include expanding the project to look at mockingbird densities in relation to lead (Pb) levels throughout the New Orleans and suburban areas and correlating lead levels with mockingbird behavior and health.


Kathleen Riley, IRES student

As a 2012 IRES participant, I conducted behavioral research on red backed fairy wrens. I assisted graduate student Sam Lantz with photospec research on fairy wren feathers.


Roxanne Franta, 4+1 MS student

I am a +1 masters student from Minnesota. I am interested in the ecology of urban passerines and how they thrive in their city habitats. I am currently looking at a variety of characteristics and life history strategies of nesting Northern Mockingbird species around the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. Other potential aspects of this research may be to develop a citizen-science outreach program that can get the local urban community involved in documenting Mockingbird behavior.


Nathan Frumkin, 4+1 MS student

I am currently a 4+1 masters student. Last spring, I graduated and completed an honors thesis on the northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) of Uptown New Orleans and how their populations and behavior vary in relation to urban microenvironments. Currently, I am involved with a project looking at the effects of lead on mockingbirds in New Orleans. My other major project involves studying aggression in captive groups of American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) at the Audubon Zoo.


Malinda Chambers, 4+1 MS student

I currently a 4+1 masters student. I was introduced to Dr. Karubian’s work on a trip to Ecuador with the Tulane Tropical and Field Biology Course. After completing a field season in Ecuador in the summer of 2014, I am analyzing data on the survival and growth of Oenocarpus bataua.


Zoe Albert, Independent study

Originally from Allen, Texas, I am currently a Sophomore Environmental and Evolutionary Biology major with plans to enter Veterinary School at the completion of my undergraduate degree. Last year, I was involved in a project that was mapping mockingbird inhabitance throughout the city. This year, with the guidance of Drs. Karubian and Renata Ribeiro, I am working on creating a citizen science program in order to attain more data on the mockingbird population of New Orleans as well as encourage New Orleanians to get involved.


Elizabeth Berganza, Collat Media Intern

I am a Junior studying Digital Media Production and Communications with a minor in French. I am helping with the creation of the Karubian and FCAT websites as a Newcomb Collat Media Intern. It is a great pleasure working with the organization and I hope to make them proud!


Alex Gulachenski, IRES student

I am a current sophomore from Massachusetts pursuing a degree in Environmental Biology. I hope to eventually pursue a graduate degree in Microbiology. This upcoming summer I will be traveling to Australia as a 2014 IRES participant. I will be conducting my first ever field research on the Red-Backed Fairy-Wren.


Miles Hegedus, Independent study

I am a junior from Massachusetts studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and French.  I am doing research on behavior and distribution of Northern Mockingbirds in New Orleans.  I plan to pursue a career in ecological research.  “For the green prehuman earth is the mystery we were chosen to solve, a guide to the birthplace of our spirit, but it is slipping away.” – Edward O. Wilson


Xander Rose, FWS student

Growing up on the Oregon Coast, I have long loved the outdoors. Back home, I enjoyed hunting, hiking and going to the beach. The big, wet woods of Oregon especially helped foster an interest in studying biology. Now, at Tulane University, I am majoring in Environmental Biology. I have interests in herpetology, fire ecology, agriculture, forestry and much beyond and in between. As part of Dr. Karubian’s lab, I had the opportunity to be an IRES fellow. I researched the red-backed fairy-wren system, had a wonderful and very beneficial experience doing field work related to it over the summer in Australia and now am improving my science writing and further learning the scientific process through writing up my findings.