So pleased to see this paper out! It represents my very best effort at trying to resolve the phylogeny of the nightbirds (superorder Strisores), using a novel genome-scale marker (ultraconserved elements). I initially uncovered some conflicting signal pertaining to the relationship between the potoos and oilbird, and subsequently designed a series of analyses to try and tease that signal apart. It wasn't easy, but in the end I've uncovered significant support for the topology seen below. Now I can proceed with further analyzing the visual adaptations to nocturnality in this group, in order to unravel their evolutionary history. See my PUBS page for the paper, published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Thanks to friend and colleague Daniel J. Field for use of the beautiful photos.
I recently coauthored a paper that conducted a combined molecular, morphological and fossil analysis of the nightbirds (Strisores) phylogeny. Strisores continues to be an elusive group to characterize, but in this study we find evidence that many of the unique adaptations of the subclades were acquired early in their evolutionary history. We also provide support for aerial foraging as the ancestral ecological state of Strisores. See my PUBS page for the paper, published in the journal Diversity.
I am very excited to share that I placed 3rd in the 2019 NIH-wide Three Minute Talk (3MT) competition! My talk was entitled "An Evolutionary Perspective on Visual Disease." I advanced to the NIH-wide competition after winning the National Eye Institute's competition last fall.
I am excited to share some work I was a part of that was recently accepted at PNAS and of which I am very proud, "Earth history and the passerine superradiation." We’ve generated a phylogeny of all passerines--by far the largest order of birds, containing more than half of all living bird species. We incorporated bird fossils into our analyses and were thus able to place a time on diversification events, and analyze the evolution of the order in the context of Earth’s history.
This was a pan-institutional and pan-museum-collection effort to generate and analyze data at an unprecedented scale for phylogenomics, and we are excited to finally share it. Below you will see the image that will be the PNAS cover for this issue--it is a lovely green-headed tanager taken by co-author Daniel Field in Brazil. You can see more of his photography here. See my PUBS page for the paper.
I am delighted to share that I won best talk at this year's National Eye Institute Focus on Fellows 3-minute talk competition. My talk was entitled "An Evolutionary Perspective on Retinal Function," and I shared some exciting preliminary data that I have collected here at the NIH from avian retinas.
I was very pleased to return to the annual Workshop on Molecular Evolution as a research facilitator (TA) this summer. I took the course as a graduate student, and learned alot that was immediately applicable to my thesis work. We had 60 students this year, at career stages between graduate student and tenured faculty, and from all over the world. The hands-on nature of the course and the access to leaders of the field makes it an unparalleled opportunity to learn and network. More info on the course is available here.
This April was the third annual meeting of the Manakin Genomics Research Coordination Network. This is a fantastic group of colleagues at all career stages and from various international institutions. We are studying all aspects of manakin behavior, ecology, genetics and evolution. This year we met in Gamboa, Panama. A website for this group is underway--stay tuned for that link!
I am very excited to share that I have successfully defended my PhD at the University of Maryland. After a bit of vacation, I will be starting a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, to continue my research in the molecular evolution of vision.