People: Collaborators and Friends


Elizabeth Bergen

Elizabeth (a.k.a. “Lizard”) earned her bachelor's at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she worked with a variety of systems including Lincoln's sparrows and Lumholtz's tree kangaroos. For her undergraduate thesis in Maria Servedio's lab, she studied population divergence in a stochastic model of a sexual signalling system. She is broadly interested in animal cognition and the social behaviors of unrelated individuals, in the context of avian mating systems. For more information about her current work, please see her website.


Jordan Karubian

Jordan (Tulane University) and his students work at the interface of behavioral ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. They focus on birds and plant-animal interactions in tropical ecosystems. Active research in Ecuador, Brazil and Australia includes seed dispersal, sexual signaling, and endangered species. We combine research with a multifaceted conservation program in the threatened Chocó rainforests of northwestern Ecuador. More info, check out Jordan’s website.



Pete Marra

Pete is biding his time as research scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's Migratory Bird Center studying migration as well as disease and urban ecology. His primary emphasis is on understanding the factors that control population dynamics. His research examines the roles of climate, habitat, food and disease on the fitness of birds. He emphasizes both fundamental and applied questions in his research with students, post docs and collaborators that are usually framed within an annual cycle context. After striking it rich in ecology, Marra plans to spend more time fishing, hunting, cooking, eating, drinking (fine wine, beer, rum and scotch) and chasing his kids.




Elliot Miller

Eliot focuses on large-scale macroevolutionary patterns. Most of his work focuses on birds, but he also studies other taxa, and has a secret passion for plants. Whenever possible, he prefers to ground truth his macroevolutionary research with focused fieldwork.



Ed Scholes

For more than a decade, Ed (Cornell University) has been using digital video to study behavior and evolution of Birds of Paradise in New Guinea. He is broadly interested in how behaviorally mediated process, like sexual selection, influence large scale (i.e. macroevolutionary) patterns of phenotypic evolution. His research combines primary descriptive studies with phylogenetic ethology and analyses of the structure and organization the extraordinary courtship phenotypes for which the birds of paradise are renown. In his "day job" Ed, is the Curator of Video in the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where he gets to combine his interest in animal behavior with his passion for natural history collections. For more information, check out Ed’s research page.


Hubert Schwabl

Hubert (Washington State University) is a primary collaborator on our fairy-wren research and other projects, and he has co-advised several students with Mike. Professor Schwabl's research is at the interface of behavioral biology, endocrinology, and evolutionary ecology. Specifically, his lab is interested in the regulation of reproduction in relation to the social and physical environment. His current research focuses on female reproductive biology and the consequences of female reproductive decisions for the phenotype and the fitness of the offspring. Understanding the evolutionary significance of such maternal effects requires investigation of proximate regulatory mechanisms and of ultimate fitness consequences. Therefore he studies animals (mainly birds) in their natural environment (including the tropics), conducts controlled laboratory experiments, measures and manipulates hormone levels, quantifies behavior, and estimates fitness. The specific goals of this research program are to understand 1) female reproductive plasticity; 2) effects of female reproductive decisions on anatomy, physiology, development, and behavior of offspring; and 3) evolution and fitness consequences of maternal effects. For more information, see Hubert’s website.




Scott Sillett

Scott is a research wildlife biologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, DC. Since 1995, he has collaborated with Mike Webster on behavioral and ecological studies of black-throated blue warblers in New Hampshire and North Carolina. Scott also studies how migratory behavior shapes the life history of songbirds, and the ecology of endemic bird populations on the California Channel Islands.


Linda Sterk

Linda (a.k.a. “Lyn”) participates in and supports research in the lab in a number of ways, ranging from helping with fieldwork through to hosting lab social events. In addition to being the primary margarator operator, Lyn’s responsibilities also include care and maintenance of Dexter, the lab pooch.