Nicholas A. Mason
Assistant Professor and Curator of Birds
Nick is a biodiversity scientist interested in the ecological and evolutionary forces that underlie avian diversification, both in terms of speciation and phenotypic diversity. Nick has broad interests within ornithology, including systematics and taxonomy, color and song evolution, biogeography, natural history, and conservation. While his interests are broad, all of Nick's research involves museum collections, and he is dedicated to their growth and sustainability. Nick is also engaged with teaching and outreach to educate the broader public and increase general awareness and appreciation of biodiveristy and conservation issues.


Diego Ocampo
Postdoctoral Researcher
Diego has broad interest in understanding the evolutionary process that has led to diverse bird morphs and behaviors, especially in Neotropical birds. More specifically, Diego uses museum-based research and bioinformatic tools to look at the population structure, the genomic architecture of adaptive traits, as well as the behavioral and ecological factors that drive the divergence of phenotypes. Diego is currently focusing on the mode and tempo of trait evolution across the genus Sporophila.


David Vander Pluym
PhD Student
David is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Sciences in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He has worked for several non profits along the lower Colorado River conducting research on riparian breeders and the ecology of Elf Owls. During this time he also conducted independent research on avian migration along the Colorado River. David’s research interests include how avian migration relates to biogeography, systematics, and the impacts of climate change on these systems.


Samantha L. Rutledge
PhD Student
Graduating from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in General Biology, Samantha has conducted research on avian brood parasitism and gregariousness, completing two internships through the University of Virginia and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Her current research interests encompass the impact of climate change on avian evolution and conservation; the origin, structure, and function of avian iridescence; and the potential biomimetic technologies stemming from avian feather structure.


Quinn McCallum
PhD Student
Quinn graduated from the University of British Columbia with an Honours in Evolutionary Biology, where he studied genomic divergence and mitochondrial introgression between White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows. Quinn is broadly interested in diversification, biogeography, and integrative taxonomy. Currently, he is studying the comparative phylogeography of birds inhabiting Andean sky islands. Quinn is also a trained illustrator and is passionate about connecting people and birds through outreach and community science.


Anna Borne
Undergraduate Researcher
Anna is an undergraduate researcher who joined the Mason Lab with support from the LSU Discover Program. Anna is collecting and analyzing phenotypic data from our museum specimens, including collect morphological and color data on the Tit-like Dacnis (Xenodacnis parina).