Liz Derryberry, Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor


Liz’s CV

I graduated in 2000 from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Princeton University, where I completed a senior thesis on the fitness consequences of parasites in natural populations of white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys). I went on to do my doctoral dissertation work on the patterns and mechanisms of song evolution in white-crowned sparrows in the Nowicki lab at Duke University. In 2007, I joined the Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University to study lineage diversification in Neotropical ovenbirds and woodcreepers (Aves: Furnariidae). In 2012 joined the Tulane EEBIO faculty. In 2017, I joined the EEB faculty at the University of Knoxville, TN.  Currently, I am working on several collaborative projects that address the proximate and ultimate factors controlling variation in communication signals using a range of techniques drawn from several disciplines.



Michael Harvey (2018 – Current)


Michael’s website

Michael studies the origins of avian diversity, mostly by examining populations in the earliest stages of the process of speciation. His work is broadly comparative, relying on high-throughput methods for examining the genomes and phenotypes of many individuals and species. He mostly studies Neotropical birds, which are species-rich enough to provide many independent datasets for comparative research on speciation.

Michael received his BA in Biology from Cornell University and a PhD from Louisiana State University, where he studied population genomics in Amazonian birds with Dr. Robb Brumfield. He comes to us from Dr. Dan Rabosky’s lab at the University of Michigan, where he studied comparative methods and theory as a US National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellow. Mike has also earned an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, a LSU College of Science Outstanding Dissertation Award, and a series of National Geographic Society research awards supporting field work on birds in remote corners of the Amazon Basin.



Mae Berlow (2014 – Current)


Mae is interested in avian gut microbial diversity and effects of shifts in gut microbial community on avian behavior.

Mae received her Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Biology at Warren Wilson College, where she worked on the effects of stream contaminants on fish morphology and growth. She then worked as a joint research assistant for the Derryberry and Van Bael labs before joining the Derryberry lab in 2015 to start her Ph.D.

Her honors and awards include: Tulane EEB graduate student research award.


Casey Coomes, PhD Candidate (2014 – Current)

Casey_photoCasey’s website

Casey is interested in behavioral ecology, specifically the effects of heat stress on avian communication. Her current research focuses on the effects of thermal stress on zebra finches.

Casey received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Transylvania University. There, she worked with Becky Fox studying parental behavior in house sparrows, before joining the lab in 2015.

Her honors and awards include: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, SICB Grant in Aid of Research, NSF GRFP Honorable Mention, Tulane EEB graduate student research award, Tulane Processes of Science in EEB award.


Clara Howell (2014 – Current)

Clara HowellClara’s website

Clara is interested in the evolution of cognitive ability. Her research includes the role of problem-solving ability in sexual selection, and the genomic response to heat stress compared to other types of stressors in zebra finches.

Clara was an undergraduate in the Derryberry Lab at Tulane University, and moved with the lab to the University of Tennessee to begin her graduate work.




Sara Lipshutz (2012 – 2018), Postdoctoral Researcher with Kim Rosvall at Indiana University

Sara’s website.

Sara examines the role that sexual selection plays in shaping mating signals and behaviors, and in turn how this can drive the speciation process. She works on female competition and hybridization between Northern and Wattled Jacanas in Panama and song as a behavior barrier between subspecies of White-crowned Sparrows in California.

sara jacana mountsSara received her BA in biology from Swarthmore College, where she studied social olfaction in Crested Auklets with Dr. Julie Hagelin and estimated demography of Kittlitz’s Plover with Dr. Magda Remisiewicz at the University of Cape Town. She began studying the jacana hybrid zone with Dr. Matthew Miller at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama.

Her honors and awards include: NSF GRF, NSF GROW Fellowship in Switzerland, NSF DDIG, National Geographic Young Explorer Grant, Ernst Mayr short term research fellowship (STRI)


Jenny Phillips (2013 – 2017), Postdoctoral scholar, website:

Jenny with sparrow


Dana Moseley, Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center website:

Ray Danner, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington website:

Julie Danner, Scientist and Mom

Renata Durães Ribeiro, Professor of the Practice, Tulane University website:

Andrés Cuervo, Curator of Birds and Professor, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia