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.

Subir B. Shakya
Postdoctoral Researcher
Subir is interested in the genetic underpinnings of phenotypes (especially color) in birds. Subir is particularly interested in integrating genetic data with biochemical, ecological, morphological, and spatial data to get a much better understanding of the mechanisms of variation. He is also interested in the phylogeny, biogeography, and natural history of birds, particularly birds from the Old World.

Maggie MacPherson
Postdoctoral Researcher
Maggie studies what shapes species distributions, mainly in birds. She has a particular interest in improving our understanding of the drivers of range dynamics in migratory species. Her recent research includes building seasonal species distribution models using citizen science datasets and improving our ability to identify umbrella taxa and to understand what shapes ranges using Bayesian belief networks. Her ultimate research goal is to contribute to research that improves our ability to protect wildlife across rapidly changing landscapes by testing the relative roles of ecological and evolutionary processes that contribute to patterns in geographic range limits.

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.