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Spring 2022

Posted by on Jul 26, 2022 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2022

The Karubian Lab had an active Spring 2022! We were all glad to celebrate Mardi Gras in person again! Sarah Khalil and John Jones both defended outstanding PhD theses on fairywrens, and we wish them the best as they move onto the next steps in their careers. Graduating seniors Ellie Casement and Sloan Livaccari defended their honors theses and won departmental honors for their work. And, Megan Narasimhan joined the team as the Program Manager for the Ecuador Scholars Program, and has had a tremendous impact—welcome aboard Megan! We are all ready for summer to begin and to get back into field research!

Sarah Khalil has officially flown the nest (get it?) and started her NSF postdoc at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but not before enjoying her last Mardi Gras as a New Orleans resident! As part of her postdoc, she will continue to work to understand the mechanisms of color production in red-backed fairywrens and how variation in color leads to variation in individual reproductive success, as well as expanding her work among other avian systems. Sarah also will be attending the Animal Behavior Conference in Costa Rica this July where she will present her work on sexual selection in fairywrens, and will then meet back up with some of the Karubian lab in Ecuador where she will be an instructor for the Tulane tropical field ecology course at FCAT.

John Jones also successfully defended his PhD thesis in Spring 2022. He published studies from his thesis work on white-shouldered fairywrens in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology and Hormones and Behavior, and he has a number of additional papers in review. He spent the summer in New Orleans wrapping up his thesis chapters and is now on the hunt for a post-doctoral or faculty position.

Kaushik Narasimhan had a productive spring semester. Now that he has all of his data, he is working on his second and third chapters while submitting his first chapter for publication. He also had another paper published as co-author. He earned several grants this past semester, including the Lewis and Clark Grant. He plans to be an instructor for the Ecuador field course over the summer and work hard to finish up his dissertation.

Annelise Blanchette has been keeping busy this spring moving her dissertation ahead. She is currently working on the manuscript for her first chapter and plans to submit it soon. She’s been in the lab doing RNA extractions and out in the field collecting lizards for her second chapter. She was awarded the Gaige Fund Award for her work on Anolis cognition and ran a half marathon in March where she finished with a new personal best time and placed second in her age group. Her plan is to finish all field and experimental work this summer so she can begin writing in earnest come the fall semester.

Mike Ellis spent the spring semester wrapping up his Fulbright field work, travelling throughout NW Ecuador to collect forest vegetation data. He’ll use those data to calculate above ground biomass and model the impacts of natural and anthropogenic forces on forest structure, maturity, diversity, and disturbance. He’s also happy to report that his manuscript with collaborator A. Lele on variation in avian morphology driven by elevation over short vertical and horizontal distances was published in Biotropica. He is extraordinarily excited to be returning to NOLA and plans to eat many a crawdad.

Luke Anderson wrapped up his third major field season in Ecuador, where he was radio tracking white-bearded manakins and monitoring fruit availability at lek sites. He then had a chance to explore the Amazon for a week and returned to New Orleans just in time for the Mardi Gras festivities. He spent the remainder of the semester preparing for his prospectus defense—he passed and has advanced to candidacy! He returned to South America several times this summer, assisting with manakin-related projects at the FCAT station, presenting some preliminary findings at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation conference in Cartagena, Colombia, and serving as a teaching assistant for the Tulane undergraduate field course in Ecuador.

Judith Santano has had a BIG year! She’s officially done with her first year of the PhD and is proud of how much she has grown in this short time. She spent the spring busy with the Ornithology course, developing her research plans for this summer, and getting trained up to work with hummingbirds. Some highlights of this semester were getting to see Roseate Spoonbills for the first time, teaching kids about pollination at the zoo, and experiencing her first Mardi Gras! She has been working with Nancy Newfield to learn how to band hummingbirds so that she can study them in Ecuador. This summer she’ll be down at the FCAT station studying pollination across a gradient of regeneration. She’s incredibly excited to spend 3 months in the field working on her own research and learning from all the other scientists who will also be at the station. Hopefully she returns to New Orleans a hummingbird expert!

Jordan has continued to develop the Ecuador Scholars Program with support from the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Newcomb Institute, Tulane’s Office of the President, and other partners. The program welcomed its first cohort of students in Spring and is gearing up to expand this upcoming year. He had a busy summer and is looking forward to being on sabbatical in Fall 2022!

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Fall 2021

Posted by on Nov 29, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 2021

The cooler weather is here and everyone in the lab has been busy! The semester got off to a great start but then Hurricane Ida came through and disrupted our flow a bit. Nevertheless, we all bounced back and are keeping busy with our classes, research, and teaching.

This semester we welcomed some new undergraduates to the lab including: Mary Elizabeth Barrow, Jack Cohn, Olivia Davison, Sloan Livaccari, and Maggie Millar. We also welcomed Master students Galen Dolkas, Chengkai (Kai) Guo, Vishal Narayan, and Thalia Williamson! Tanner Mazanec, Kat Perkins, and Katie Rompf are all making progress on their Master’s. And last but certainly not least, Judith Santano has joined us as a PhD student from California, with support from a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship she was awarded!

The PhD students have all had a lot on their plates but are doing a great job with work-life balance.

Sarah Khalil successfully defended her PhD thesis on red-backed fairywren coloration and is getting ready to begin her NSF-funded postdoc at Cornell. She also presented her work on the genomics of color variation in fairywrens at two conferences this summer – the American Ornithological Society, and the annual Evolution conference, where she won a W. D. Hamilton Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation! She also spent two weeks in Ecuador TAing the tropical field ecology course with Jordan, where she taught and lead a group of undergraduate students through a project on catching birds. She will return in summer 2022 as an instructor of record on the course.

John Jones’ dissertation is starting to take form as he has been busy writing and teaching since our last update. His first chapter is currently in press with Ecology and Evolution and his second chapter is in review in Behavioral Ecology. He plans on submitting his third chapter soon to Animal Behaviour; fingers crossed! John also learned a new (to him) technique to analyze color variation over the summer that models color perception from their eyes; this approach takes center-stage of his fourth and final chapter, exploring if and how female aggression is correlated with male plumage coloration in both white-shouldered and red-backed fairywrens. Finally, John is applying for a few postdoctoral fellowships as he considers his next steps – insert shameless plug to reach out to him if you’re a PI looking to hire!

Kaushik Narasimhan had a busy summer, and his fall is shaping up to be very busy as well. He spent the summer getting ready for a long field season in Ecuador and, after some delays due to weather, finally made it. He plans to harvest his beloved seeds (now seedlings) from his seedling survival experiment – all 2,000 of them! – and gather the last bit of data for his 3rd chapter. He is also spearheading the implementation of new project, funded by an NSF RAPID grant awarded to Tulane professor Dr. Sunshine Van Bael , that aims to test seed survival in a similar way to his 3rd chapter, but with many more tree species found in Ecuador. He is also assisting in a forest restoration projected and working on a number of manuscripts!

Annelise Blanchette spent her summer collecting brown anoles for use in cognition and locomotor performance trials. She also learned how to perform a brain dissection and collected anoles to dissect for transcriptome analysis. In the midst of field and lab work she also trained for and ran a half marathon (her 6th – she kicked butt). She wrapped up most of her work for this season and is currently piloting some new cognition methods to try out in the spring and working on data analysis in close collaboration with co-advisor Dr. Alex Gunderson.

Mike Ellis defended his prospectus in the spring and traveled around the country while working remotely (and birding). In July, he began his Fulbright fellowship in Ecuador, and he has been working in the field ever since. He is also working on two manuscripts, one of which is in review and the other is soon to be submitted.

Luke Anderson spent the summer doing fieldwork in Ecuador. Along with a team of Tulane students, he was tracking white-bearded manakin movement, gathering genetic samples, mapping fruit distributions, and monitoring male display activity. He also served as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate field course at FCAT. He will be returning to Ecuador this semester and is looking forward to gathering more data, improving his Spanish, and playing Ecua-voley with the FCATeros.

Judith Santano joined the lab as a new Ph.D student. Judith graduated from Stanford University and is excited to continue exploring and developing her passions for community ecology, community-based conservation, and environmental education in the Karubian lab! She spent the summer getting a jump start to her Ph.D. by joining Luke Anderson for his field season at FCAT in Ecuador studying how the distribution of food resources impact the mating behavior of White-bearded Manakins. This semester she’s focusing on learning as much as she can about ecology and making New Orleans her new home.

Jordan was promoted to full Professor at Tulane University and received a Fulbright Fellowship for research and training in Ecuador. He also received grants from NSF for work on the factors that determine abundances of South American palm trees with Dr. Paul Fine, Dr. Miles Silman, and Dr. Luke Browne, and for work on how soil microbial communities mediate seedling survival with Dr. Sunshine Van Bael. He enjoyed traveling to Ecuador over the summer with family, friends and colleagues to teach the field biology course at the FCAT station.

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Spring 2021

Posted by on Jun 8, 2021 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2021

As the weather warms, we come to the end of an academic year unlike any other. While the meetings remained virtual, the promise of a return to normalcy as more and more people get vaccinated kept spirits bright. We are happy to see each other again in person and enjoy the beautiful scenery that a New Orleans spring brings. We also have so much to celebrate!

Congratulations to our fresh PhD candidates Annelise Blanchette and Mike Ellis for successfully defending their prospectus’ and to Caroline Camus, Erin Sheehy, and Melanie Smith for successfully defending their undergraduate Honors Theses! Great job everyone!

We have many graduating students to celebrate too! Congratulations to Plus One MS student Peyton Fralick for finishing his program. Additional cheers for our graduating seniors Caroline Camus, Erin Sheehy, and Melanie Smith.

A huge congratulations to Sarah Khalil who was recently awarded the NSF Postdoc Fellowship!

The PhD students have a lot to look forward to after a whirlwind of an academic year.

John Jones finally learned to work from home and wrote two chapters of his dissertation; one chapter is currently in review and the other will be submitted shortly. In addition, John has received funding from the American Physiological Societies’ “Lewis and Clark” grant to support another trip to Papua New Guinea which will take place when it is globally safe to travel. In the meantime, he has repurposed the research on red-backed fairywrens conducted as part of his Australian Endeavor Fellowship to take center stage of his third chapter, exploring coloration in the sister species to his New Guinean songbirds. Finally, alongside another Karubian PhD student (no spoilers here!), John received the EEB department’s ‘Stephen Darwin Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award’ for his role in teaching Ecology and Experimental Animal Behavior for the 20-21 academic year.

Sarah Khalil has several updates: She has received an NSF postdoctoral fellowship in biology (PRFB), and will be starting at a postdoc in Dr. Irby Lovette’s lab at Cornell University in March 2022! She plans to defend her dissertation around November 2021. She also recently received the American Museum of Natural History Chapman Research Grant to fund her ongoing dissertation work. And on more personal news, she adopted a puppy named Frankie in January, and has been enjoying spending lots of time with him at home while she mainly works on analysis and writing.

Kaushik Narasimhan had a busy spring! At the beginning of the semester, he went to Ecuador to get the ball rolling on his 3rd chapter. After some twist and turns, he was able to collect seeds, get his shadehouse built, sterilize soil, and get his precious seeds germinating! Using plant tissue gathered during that field season, Kaushik was extracting DNA to conduct ddRAD protocols and further analysis. He is also getting ready to submit his 1st chapter for publication and another publication he co-authored was accepted for publication. Now that his seeds have germinated, Kaushik is back in Ecuador to plant his seeds to finish the setup for the experiment. When he returns over the summer, Kaushik is going to focus on ramping up a larger project in Ecuador beginning in the fall, focused on more plant species!

Annelise Blanchette successfully defended her prospectus and was awarded the EEB department’s ‘Bruce Fleury Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award’ for her role in teaching Diversity of Life during the 20-21 academic year. She also continued collaboration with local printmaker Pippin Frisbie-Calder and producer Zaferhan Yumru to create an educational video about the Mockingbird Project outreach. She finally submitted her master’s thesis manuscript to a journal and is waiting to hear back on that. She’s currently attempting to build a balance beam and treadmill for the brown anoles and will spend her summer collecting at much data as she can!

Mike Ellis added new remote sensing projects to his dissertation, successfully defended his prospectus, and was awarded a Lewis & Clark grant. After having his field work postponed all year due to the pandemic, he’s very excited to head to Ecuador and begin his Fulbright fellowship.

Luke Anderson spent several weeks in Ecuador learning to track white-bearded manakins using radio telemetry. Over the summer, he and other lab members will be embarking on an ambitious field study to determine relationships between fruit distributions and manakin space use, seed dispersal, and display behavior. He also recently published a paper in Animal Behaviour demonstrating that female cowbirds use chatter vocalizations to signal-jam male songs during courtship.

Last but not least, Jordan has had a busy semester full of reasons to celebrate!

Jordan Karubian received a Fulbright Fellowship for research and education work in Ecuador. He also received awards from the NSF for research on the factors that regulate abundance of palm trees in South America with Paul Fineand Miles Silman, and for research on plant-soil feedbacks with Tulane colleague and grant PI Sunshine Van Bael. He will be promoted to full Professor starting in July 2021 and is looking forward to spending some time in nature with his family this summer!

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Fall 2020

Posted by on Nov 30, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 2020

The fall semester welcomed students back to campus to teach and learn virtually and in-person!

We welcomed M.S. students Peyton Fralick, Tanner Mazanec, and Ace Spitzer. Undergraduate student Cecilia Hammond has joined the lab, Sarah Uher has moved from lab tech to researcher, and students Ellie Casement, Caroline Camus, Melanie Smith and Erin Sheehy are all making great progress on their honors theses.

As we navigated a whirlwind of a spring semester and summer, the returning PhD students have been productive.

John Jones had a busy summer watching hours upon hours of bird videos and learning how to analyze birdsongs to compare acoustic complexity between two populations of white-shouldered fairywrens. The song results are complete and are now added to the first chapter of his dissertation that he hopes to submit by the end of the year. This fall has been spent juggling teaching, writing this manuscript, writing grants, and washing his hands.

Sarah Khalil had her first chapter published in Proceedings of the Royal Society: B on how testosterone regulated CYP2J19 expression in red-backed fairywrens to produce red plumage. She presented some of her new whole-genome resequencing work describing the genetic basis of red coloration in hybrid fairywrens at the virtual North American Ornithological Conference in August. She was also invited to give a virtual seminar talk at Kenessaw State University in October, and very much enjoyed connecting with the students and faculty there and discussing her PhD work. Sarah is spending most of her time at home analyzing and writing up her other chapters.

Kaushik Narasimhan successfully defended his thesis prospectus and has advanced to candidacy. He also submitted his manuscript about a range extension for the long-tailed weasel in Ecuador and is putting the final touches on the manuscript for the first chapter of his dissertation. He is excited to head to Ecuador to start field research at the FCAT station!

Annelise Blanchette performed some field work over the summer to band nestling mockingbirds in the neighborhood surrounding Tulane. She also worked on a manuscript from her master’s on the antipredator behavior of the green and black poison frog in Costa Rica and intends to submit it for review by the holiday season. Additionally, she decided to include the Anolis lizards in her dissertation and named Dr. Alex Gunderson a co-advisor to complement Jordan’s skills and knowledge. She has continued collaborating with local printmaker Pippin Frisbie-Calder on The Mockingbird Project to create a unique and educational experience for a virtual Mardi Gras 2021!

Mike Ellis started a manuscript exploring how fragmentation may be causing humid forest bird communities to transition into semi-humid forest bird communities. He also began a new remote sensing project with the American Bird Conservancy examining the effects of low impact forestry on biodiversity in northwestern Ecuador. He’ll continue these projects through the fall semester before heading to Ecuador in January to begin his Fulbright Fellowship. He also recently had a paper coauthored with former lab member Rachel Cook and others accepted for publication in the Journal of Landscape Ecology.

Luke Anderson spent the last few weeks of the semester in Ecuador at the FCAT station chasing manakins. He has been learning a tremendous amount about their basic biology and honing his mist netting and behavioral observation skills. He also finished an article on behavior away from the lek in long-wattled umbrellabirds and has submitted it for review – fingers crossed!

Jordan Karubian has been keeping busy during Fall 2020, the Semester Like No Other. He has had a few papers come out, including Sarah Khalil’s first thesis chapter on production of the eponymous red plumage on the back of male red-backed fairy-wrens, former MS student Rachel Cook’s paper on diversity of mammals and terrestrial birds in forest fragments (with Mike Ellis and lab alums Tadeo Ramirez and Luke Browne), and former honors thesis student Tadeo Ramirez’s paper on the phenology of the Chapil palm Oenocarpus bataua in Ecuador. He has also put a lot of energy into the conservation work of FCAT, which has recently expanded its reserve size from 164 ha to 550 ha and is starting an ambitious experimental reforestation project – we are looking for passionate and committed young biologists and conservationists to come and join us, so it that sounds like you, reach out!

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Spring 2020

Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2020

Spring has sprung. The flowers are blooming, the trees are budding new leaves and the Karubian lab has been adapting to the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. We have been meeting virtually for the past several weeks and doing our best to keep motivated as we revise our plans to adjust to a summer without field research. The beautiful weather has been a huge help as we maintain social distancing through this challenging time, and the migratory birds and centuries-old oaks serve as much-needed reminders that ‘this too shall pass’.

First things first – congratulations to Dr. Zoe Diaz-Martin for successfully defending her PhD dissertation, flawlessly and virtually.

Our plus one master’s students have done amazing this year as well while finishing their programs. Congratulations to Caitlin McCormick and Wendy Deng!

We also congratulate Margaux Armfield and Sarah Lueder on successfully defending their Honors Theses! Congratulations to all our graduating seniors – Margaux, Sarah L, and Morgan Furlong.

We also welcomed Sophomore Ellie Casement and Juniors Melanie Smith and Zac Ripich to the lab this semester! Ellie, Melanie, Zac and Erin Sheehy all received grants to conduct research this summer in Ecuador

Although this is by far the strangest semester we have had, the PhD students are still busy and looking to the future.

Zoe Diaz-Martin successfully passed her doctoral dissertation defense, scooping up departmental honors for best dissertation this year as well as the ‘Tulane 34’ award, among the most prestigious and selective honors the university bestows! She accepted a three-year post-doctoral research position at the Chicago Botanic Garden in the Plant Science and Conservation department. She will be working on two projects – one is an NSF funded project that investigates the drivers of diversification in the primrose family. The other aims to develop a tool for botanic gardens that is akin to ‘studbooks’ in zoos, which allows for the effective genetic management of highly endangered plant species that primarily exist in garden collections.

John Jones has completed his Endeavour Fellowship and returned from his extended field season in Papua New Guinea and Australia and has finally gotten used to being home here in New Orleans. In preparation for his final field season, he has been awarded grants from our department, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, and the Animal Behavior Society. In the meantime, John is writing up the results from his prior field seasons, catching birds, and frequently washing his hands.

Sarah Khalil completed a year of work at Cornell University in the lab of her committee member, Dr. Irby Lovette. In January, she presented her work on how testosterone regulates gene expression to produce red plumage in red-backed fairywrens at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) conference in Austin, Texas, where she was a finalist for a best student presentation award. She also received grants from Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology and the Lewis & Clark Fund and is currently analyzing her whole-genome resequencing data and writing up her other chapters.

Kaushik Narasimhan has had a busy semester as he prepares to defend his prospectus. Additionally, he is finishing up a manuscript documenting a range extension of the Long-tailed weasel, Mustela Frenata, based on camera footage found from his first chapter, on fruit removal at palm trees in relation to surrounding fruit neighborhood. He has also conducted niche modeling for the endangered banded ground-cuckoo. Future plans are in flux as his field season in Ecuador is impacted by Covid-19, but Kaushik is hoping for the best!

Annelise Blanchette has been on a research assistantship with funds from the Morris Animal Foundation this spring, preparing for her first full field season. She designed a memory-based study on the mockingbirds, thought about ways to monitor their nesting success, and contributed to a grant proposal with undergraduate Caroline Camus and Dr. Myra Finkelstein (UC Santa Cruz) to the Morris Animal Foundation. During Mardi Gras, Annelise and Jordan worked with local printmaker Pippin Frisbie-Calder and Cammie Hill-Prewitt from Tulane’s Bywater Institute and Studio in the Woods to collect beads for recycling and spread awareness of soil-lead contamination and the mockingbird project. Currently, Annelise is trapping and banding as many adult mockingbirds around campus as possible with the hope of completing her behavioral experiment and nest success monitoring next year. She’s perfecting her methods and will try to watch the wildlife and cats on campus through camera traps to take advantage of these quiet times (and she’s already garnered a bit of a tan).

Mike Ellis has been hard at work this semester applying for grants and fellowships between outings for the Ornithology lab he TA’s. He’s also been honing his research on eco-evolutionary drivers creating and maintaining tropical diversity gradients. Mike has received a Fulbright Fellowship that will allow an extended field season in northwestern Ecuador in 2021.

Luke Anderson submitted a manuscript on signal jamming behavior in brown-headed cowbirds based on his master’s thesis research. He’s also been taking classes and preparing for his upcoming field season. Whenever travel is up and running again, he plans to travel to Ecuador and conduct a nest monitoring study on green manakins. He was recently awarded a Lewis & Clark Exploration Fund grant to support this work. During the quarantine, he is working on analyzing prior data and writing up a paper about long-wattled umbrellabird foraging behavior.

Lastly, but definitely not least, our advisor is promoting mindfulness during this hectic time and always remembers to check in with us, though he is incredibly busy himself.

Jordan Karubian has been kept on his toes the past several weeks trying to balance home schooling with being a professor… let’s just say there is never a dull moment! There have been some positive developments on the work front. With collaborators Dr. Scott Walter (Texas State, San Marcos) and Dr. Barbara Piperata (Ohio State), he received a NSF ‘IRES’ grant which will allow research and training opportunities for undergraduate students in Ecuador. He has also had publication come out on brown pelican foraging ecology, with lab alum Dr. Brock Geary. Jordan is very proud of his graduating students and of continuing lab members for the character they have shown during this challenging time.

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Fall 2019

Posted by on Sep 26, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 2019

Welcome back to school everyone! This semester we welcomed Ph.D. student Luke Anderson. Luke is joining us from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied brown-headed cowbird courtship under the advisement of Dr. Marc Schmidt. He will now focus his research on manakins in the family Pipridae in Ecuador.

Kyu Min Hu and Caitlin McCormick, who both completed their undergraduate studies Tulane last year, have returned to further their education as M.S. students in our lab. We also welcomed Zhiyu (Wendy) Deng as M.S. students in the lab. We also have an outstanding group of undergraduate students working with us. Sarah Leuder completed field work on diversity of palm trees in Ecuador over the summer and will be writing up her honors thesis on that work this year. Margaux Armfield returned from a semester abroad in Scotland and will be conducting her honors thesis on network dynamics of pollination biology. Two juniors, Caroline Camus and Erin Sheehy, have joined the lab and are currently developing their honors thesis projects on lead contamination in pets and lek-breeding manakins, respectively. To round things out, Daleth DelSalto is visiting the lab from Guatemala and Sarah Uher is working as a lab technician.

Former PhD students in the lab have also been active – Jenny Hazlehurst is starting as a faculty member at California State University, East Bay this fall, while Luke Browne has begun a post-doctoral fellowship with Liza Comita at the Yale School of Forestry!

The returning Ph.D. students have been keeping busy since last spring.

Zoe Diaz-Martin has entered her 6th and final year and had a busy summer. She presented her work at the Evolution Conference, co-instructed two courses, and advanced her dissertation research. She spent time in Ecuador at the awesome new FCAT reserve and at the Refugio del Gavilán to help develop long lasting conservation solutions in northwestern Ecuador. This semester she will focus on writing and begin applying to post-doctoral research positions.

John Jones is still in the field! He first spent 2 months in Papua New Guinea working with white-shouldered fairywrens; now and is now working with the red-backed fairywren in Australia under a fellowship awarded from the Australian Government. He is conducting a series of field-based experiments focused on both behavioral ecology and endocrinology and will be home in December to analyze the data – mostly watch video recordings.

Sarah Khalil has spent the last few months working with her committee member, Dr. Irby Lovette, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During that time, she performed ddRAD sequencing to look at the relatedness of New Orleans mockingbirds, in collaboration with Ph.D. student Annelise Blanchette and undergrad Lauren Hitt. She has also been working on a whole-genome resequencing project investigating the genetic basis of red coloration in hybrid fairywrens and presented some of this new work at the American Ornithological Society this June in Anchorage, Alaska, as an invited speaker at a symposium on avian hybrid zones. She will continue working at the Cornell Lab for the fall semester and be back in New Orleans for Spring semester.

Kaushik Narasimhan had a long and productive summer. Along with Sarah Leuder and Lewis Greenstein, he helped create the protocol and set up kilometer-long transects around the FCAT reserve. He also participated in the Ecuador field course, in which he led the student camera trapping project. The cameras revealed a healthy reserve, producing many stunning videos Kaushik also spent much of the summer working in the lab, extracting DNA from leaf tissue of Oenocarpus bataua adults to gain insights into how differences in R genes (AKA Resistance genes) between individuals of the same species contributes to survival advantages. This semester Kaushik is working hard on his prospectus, aiming to defend by the spring!

Annelise Blanchette spent her summer conducting field work on impacts of lead exposure on wildlife in New Orleans. She got plenty of practice finding nests and banding mockingbird nestlings and worked alongside Akhila Gopal to pilot a behavioral study on mockingbird adults. She also completed a pilot study on lead exposure and aggressive behavior on a common lizard Anolis sagrei and and collected plant samples from around Uptown for lead analysis. Annelise will spend her fall semester framing out her dissertation and applying for grants.

Mike Ellis spent three months in Ecuador this summer developing research projects and working with local conservation non-profits. He’s still stoked about his trip to partner reserve Tesoro Escondido where he was lucky enough to see a young Harpy Eagle at its nest. This fall, Mike will be working with Kyu Min Huh and Rachel Cook to publish their work on wildlife diversity patterns in forest fragments. He’ll also be conducting research on regional bird diversity, writing grants, and collaborating with Ecuadorian partners on social outreach and primate conservation programs.

Jordan Karubian has been putting lots of time and energy into exciting conservation, research, and education work in Ecuador with our partners at FCAT. Earlier this year we purchased 164 ha. (320 acres) of rainforest habitat and built a station with capacity for 45 visitors. In August we inaugurated the station by bringing a group of 15 Tulane undergraduates to the site for a two-week immersive course in Tropical Field Biology and Conservation. (EBIO. 3780). It was a success; to quote one student: “I will be going back with a better vision of what I want to do with my life, what I feel is important to prioritize, and a better understanding of field techniques in tropical ecology and conservation. From the perspective of a student, I would say that the program is fantastically successful. I loved every muddy bit of it!” Jordan also received funding from Disney Conservation Fund, our longtime supporters of work in Ecuador, and saw two publications (Enbody et al. 2019, Javůrková et al. 2019) come out with former PhD student Erik Enbody on white shouldered fairy-wrens. Jordan was also named a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society!

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