contina USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center at the Patuxent Research Refuge | Center for Earth Observation and Modeling at the Univ. of Oklahoma

I am interested in movement ecology, evolution, and wildlife conservation, as well as STEM education and outreach. 2019-2021: Postdoctoral Fellow – University of Colorado Denver [NSF-ORIGIN]. 2016-2018: Postdoc Teaching Fellow – National Science Foundation (NSF) National Research Traineeship (NRT) program at the University of Oklahoma (OU)

My academic training focuses on avian research, animal movements, and molecular ecology (stable isotopes and genetic markers). Overall, my professional career includes 20yrs of research in ecology and conservation biology in the US, Central America, Europe, and Africa. Click here to read more about my research projects and here for more info about STEM education and past work at OU.

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Read more about my research tools: How do we study the ecology and evolution of animal migration?

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STABLE ISOTOPES

“You are what you eat”. Organisms are made of the food resources they consume and different stable isotope signatures of common elements such as carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen are progressively incorporated in growing tissues – providing information on different environments and diets. I use stable isotopes to track animal movements through different environments and to reconstruct foraging preferences.

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DNA MARKERS

Genetic markers (DNA) can provide an effective tool for the quantitative analysis of migratory connectivity and population genetic structure. I use microsatellites and SNPs for genetic population analyses of migratory birds. I am also conducting a genome-wide association analysis to detected signals of selection in several genes of interest in relation to the migratory phenotype of the Painted Bunting.

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GEOLOCATORS

It is not an easy task to track movements in small (≤ 15 grams) migrant songbirds! Although satellite tracking systems and GPS devices are now greatly reduced in weight, they are still too heavy for many species of small songbirds. I use miniaturized solar powered geolocator tags that, although less precise than GPS technology, can be fitted on small songbirds. I analyze geolocator data in conjunction with stable isotope and genetic data to study species evolution and population responses to climate change.

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BIOINFORMATICS

After data collection and analysis… we still need to organize our new knowledge under an integrated ecological framework. My goal is to provide a way to methodically integrate ecological and evolutionary biology information through modern bioinformatics and R coding language.