People

Here are our lab members. For information on me (DL) click here or the PI link above in the menu.  Click here to jump down to alumni.  Click here or scroll to the bottom for a slideshow of earlier lab members (2009-2017), and an index.

Doctoral Students

 

Danielle Wasserman
(dwasserman@gradcenter.cuny.edu)

Danielle’s main interests are morphological variation and systematics, with special attractions to reptiles and bones. She first became interested in the tongue bone, or hyoid, during an internship at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, when she didn’t know where to put this strange Y-shaped bone while fixing an Asian water monitor skeleton mount. Danielle promptly started studying them, and received a Master’s degree at Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) for her survey of monitor lizard hyoids. Here at CUNY Danielle is doing essentially the same thing with the famed Hawaiian honeycreepers, an adaptive radiation that has produced an explosion of different diet and beak types– and probably hyoids to match. Danielle relies on computed tomography scan laboratories, museum collections, and geometric morphometric techniques and resources to complete her mission, which is the most accurate possible reconstruction of hyoid shape transformation over time in the honeycreepers.

Go to Danielle’s website

 

Alexis Brewer
(abrewer@gradcenter.cuny.edu)

Alexis is interested in how humans influence the natural environment, especially through urbanization, and how ecosystems respond to these changes. Her dissertation research focuses on vertebrate scavengers in New York State (especially vultures!), and how their population and community ecology varies with the differing levels of urbanization across our area. Among her methods, Alexis uses geospatial tracking to monitor vulture movements, and stable isotope analysis which allows her to determine the sources of their food. During her time at CUNY Alexis has performed research in the laboratories of Jeff Bird, Brian Giebel, and José Anadón.

 

Franny Geller
(frannygeller@gmail.com)

Having graduated with a bachelors degree in Music from Queens College, Franny made a transition from human song to birdsong to biology. Her dissertation research involves an investigation of cultural lability (the rate at which a trait culturally evolves), and a study of the degree to which developmental, demographic, and ecological factors underlie house finch song structure and cultural transmission. She has been a popular teacher of undergraduates at QC. Moths have recently joined the ranks of Franny’s favorite organisms.

Master’s Students

 

Leora Ferrari

Leora is interested in bird ecology and conservation, such as the effects of climate change on bird migration. We look forward to her joining us in the fall as an entering Master’s student and new lab member.

 

Andrea Lopez
(andrealopez11796@gmail.com
)

Andrea joined our lab as an undergraduate, analyzing historical house finch song and helping to trap and band house finches on the Queens College campus. After receiving her BA, Andrea transitioned into the Master’s program. She has recently decided on a direction for her graduate research: begging calls in nestling weaverbirds and their cuckoo brood parasites.

 

 

 

Ritika Nath
(ritika.nath02@qmail.cuny.edu)

Ritika received a BA in Biology from Queens College, and as a Master’s student is now working on the Bronx River urban ecology project.  Ritika focuses on mammalian diversity along the river’s length. She is specifically interested in how urbanization impacts mammalian species composition and whether competitive dynamics in an urban context impact the presence or absence of mammalian species in certain habitats.

 

 

Catalina Isaura Tapia
(catalina.tapia27@qmail.cuny.edu)

Catalina received a BA in Biology with a minor in French, and then joined the Master’s program. In our lab she is on the Bronx River Urban Ecology Project team. Her focus is fungal diversity along the river’s length. For this she collects and photographs mushrooms and other fungal critters, but also assesses soil eDNA in collaboration with Seth Wollney from the College of Staten Island. Catalina’s dog-son Luke Dingus has not yet chosen a research project, although by now he probably knows the Bronx River fungi transects very well.

 

Shari Zimmerman
(shari.zimmerman54@qmail.cuny.edu)

Shari entered our lab as an undergraduate, working on house finch acoustic analysis. After receiving her BA in Biology, Shari then entered the Master’s program. She has recently decided on her graduate research topic, focusing on the evolution of egg color in the Garrulax laughing-thrushes of Asia. 

 

Alex Domeyko
(domeyko@hotmail.com)

Al is completing his Master’s work remotely, completing a project that was begun by Aaron, reviewing all that is known about one of the world’s most notorious but interesting mammalian invasives: the small Indian mongoose. For several years Al managed and then directed volunteer services at Central Park. He has recently become the Executive Director of the Darien Nature Center in Connecticut.

 

 

Lizbeth Vazquez
(lvazq@yahoo.com)

Liz has worked on various projects in the lab, especially when it involves looking for birds! For her major Master’s project she is documenting the common flowering plants of Ethiopia’s Awash National Park, including identification and human uses. We also like to think of her as our lab nurse.

 

 

 

Jacqueline Milander
(jmilander100@qc.cuny.edu)

Jacqueline is studying the song of the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). This bird not only learns from other members of its species but also mimics other sounds. Jacqueline has recorded mockingbirds in both New York and Texas (with Natasza providing some New York recordings as well).  She is now determining whether birds differ between these areas in their songs, and whether the sounds they mimic are typical of the respective areas.

 

 

Wendy Castillo
(birdsonglahti@aol.com)

Wendy has recorded and analyzed geographic variation in an introduced population of house finch songs in Hawaii, comparing them to those previously recorded in California.  Her research is showing some broad-scale differences in song between the two regions, such as some effects of urban noise in Hawaii.

 

 

 

Undergraduate

 

Andreas Paparousopoulos
(andreas.paparousopoulos54@qmail.cuny.edu)

The Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought (OBET) was established and hosted by the Lahti Lab, with support from the International Society of Environmental Ethics and the American Philosophical Association. Recently, PhilPapers has emerged as the premiere online bibliography for philosophical topics. Since 2021, Andreas, a Biology and Comparative Literature double major at Queens College, has been conducting the massive project of incorporating OBET into PhilPapers, thus consolidating references to all ethical and other philosophical work on the natural environment into one place.

 

 

Associates & Research Scientists

(those who are involved in the lab– although to varying extents and with varying credentials– but are not degree candidates)

 

Sara Paccione
(sara.paccione@gmail.com)

Sara has a Master’s in English from Queens College. Since 2014 she has been contributing to two websites. She provided background research on several classic literary works for Reflections on Great Literature (greatlit.net). More recently she has been locating, organizing, and posting poetry by the late evolutionary biologist Richard D. Alexander for his tribute website (richarddalexander.com).

 

Katherine Paccione
(katherine.paccione@gmail.com)

Katie is a veterinary technician, educator, and naturalist. She has a Master’s in Biology from Queens College, and continues to serve the department as an adjunct lecturer and lab instructor. Although never actually being a degree candidate in our lab, she has consistently been an engaging and thoughtful presence, providing insights on student projects and more generally on ideas and studies in ecology, behavior, and evolution.

 

Macarena G. GomezdelaTorre
(mgdt82@gmail.com)

Macarena received her Master’s in our lab, and is now pursuing additional research projects. Macarena came to the lab interested in all things rabbit-related! For her research thesis she designed and performed an independent experimental study of domestic rabbits, testing for an association between personality and cognitive traits. Mason worked with her on the analysis. She has also contributed to an ongoing lab project on the ethnobotany of The Gambia.

 

Dr. Andrew F. Richards 
(africhards2.718@gmail.com)

Andy has been a research scientist in our lab since 2014. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan for his study of the life history and behavior of female bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia. Since then he worked for many years with Richard D. Alexander, focusing on the evolution of human behavior, physiology, psychology and culture. Currently he continues this investigation into evolutionary explanations for learning and other complex traits. Andy has been an integral part of the lab, always a force for raising the bar for understanding evolution and clarifying concepts. He both formally and informally guides students, and contributes consistently to lab discussions about evolutionary theory, learning and culture, recent scientific discoveries, and lab project ideas. Since here, he has also been an Adjunct Professor in the Queens College Biology Department, especially teaching Animal Behavior.  Recently he has conducted field research on white-crowned sparrows in Michigan in association with the lab of Alec Lindsay at Northern Michigan University, as well as teaching marine biology there.

 

Dr. Bobby Habig
(heybobby99@gmail.com)

Bobby is simultaneously an alumnus, coadvisor to several lab members, and external collaborator. He has been a vital researcher, energizer, supporter, advisor, leader, and friend in our lab. He holds two Bachelor’s degrees, a Master’s in Education, and a PhD in Biology. After several years as an educator and program manager at the American Museum of Natural History, Bobby entered our lab in 2011 and collaborated with Khaleda on the behavior of breeding male and female African village weaverbirds. He expanded this project into a study of colony disturbances, nest attendance, and male boldness that resulted in the very first of our lab’s student publications. After gaining his 2nd baccalaureate in our lab, he pursued his PhD at Notre Dame in the lab of Beth Archie. His main dissertation project was an assessment of the effect of social status on immune and endocrine function in the baboons of Amboseli, Kenya. He then rejoined our lab with an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, and focused on two main projects. His main NSF project was a study of function and evolution of weaverbird (Ploceidae) nests. In service of this project he conducted a research trip to Ethiopia, the second for our lab. Secondly, he developed from scratch a new and thorough research program, the Bronx River Urban Ecology Project, focusing on the biodiversity and ecological changes along New York’s only freshwater river between the city and its upper reaches in Westchester County. Bobby has mentored, and continues to mentor, several graduate students on that project as research supervisor (beginning with Amanda, MalehaRitika, and Sal). Bobby has established numerous connections with agencies and organizations in the city as a result of this project. Bobby has also joined the NYC-based Gotham Coyote Project, and guided Master’s research projects by Angelinna and Ritika in that connection. Bobby led the lab during DL’s sabbatical throughout 2019. He then provided tremendous effort in helping guide the lab through the COVID era. Bobby has been a driven and careful scientist, a fair and broad thinker, and an encouraging and devoted advisor. He formally left the lab for a professorial position at Mercy College here in NYC in fall 2021, but in addition to running his own laboratory he continues to collaborate and interact with us closely and to guide shared urban ecology Master’s students.

 

Alumni

Everyone below has contributed to our research projects in the lab, and nearly all have achieved undergraduate or graduate degrees in the process. Several other students not included here have worked in the lab over the years as well, as visiting researchers, trainees, research assistants, coders, or technicians. Some of those below could equally be considered active associates, especially Maleha, Amanda, Angelinna, and Eric, as they are still involved in the lab, especially in converting their theses into publications and joining us for discussions and other meetings and events.

 

Angelinna Bradfield (2019-2022; Honors BA in Biology, 2021; MA in Biology, 2022)

Angelinna undertook an extensive research project for her undergraduate Biology Honors Thesis, and then expanded the study further and added a second for her Master’s research. Working with Bobby and the Gotham Coyote Project (particularly Mark Weckel and Chris Nagy), Angelinna documented coyote and feral cat occupancy and habitat preferences, as well as broader mammalian diversity, across the New York City metropolitan area. Angelinna is the second person (after Amanda) to get two degrees in the lab. She also achieved the Master’s in by far the fastest time– just one year. She accomplished this partly by taking some of her graduate credits as an undergraduate, and partly by being crazy smart.

 

Maleha Mahmud (2018-2021; MA in Biology, 2021; lab manager, 2019-2021)

Maleha received a BA in Anthropology with high honors from Queens College. After taking Animal Behavior, Maleha decided to leave Anthropology temporarily to perform research and gain a Master’s degree in Biology. Our lab is very grateful for her decision! Shortly after joining us, she was unanimously voted as the best person to become our third lab manager after Michelle left. She held this position during the most tumultuous and uncertain time in our lab’s history, with DL’s sabbatical followed immediately by COVID. Maleha’s spirit was perfectly suited to manage the lab through this time, with her consistent and unwavering warmth, positivity, encouragement, and devotion. As for research, Maleha joined the Bronx River Ecology Project at its inception. She developed and implemented two projects with Bobby‘s guidance, on how the macroinvertebrate community varies along the stream, and what abiotic and biotic variables are predictive of species diversity and water quality. After receiving her Master’s, she left our lab for the CUNY PhD Program in Anthropology, where she works on nonhuman primates with Shahrina Chowdhury at Brooklyn College.

 

Salvatore Asaro (2018-2021)

Salvatore is an energetic thinker and one of the best naturalists to enter our lab. His interests and involvement in ecology, biodiversity, botany, and natural history helped keep our lab rooted in the natural environment, and his pressed plants long occupied our lab benches. Sal received his BA from Williams College in 2011, with majors in American Studies and Studio Art. He has been an adjunct in the QC Biology department, and has substantially aided the courses of Dr. Jon Sperling along with César Castillo. As part of the Bronx River Urban Ecology project he kicked off a substantial inventory of terrestrial flora along that waterway. He also earned a Horticulture Certificate from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

 

Mason Youngblood (2015-2021; PhD in Psychology, 2021)

Mason received his BS in Biology from the University of South Carolina, where he studied genetics and behavior in mammalian and insect models. He then joined our lab via the CUNY Psychology Program, with a concentration in Animal Behavior and Comparative Psychology. Mason quickly diversified into a remarkably versatile researcher. Although his several studies ranged from neurophysiology to developing ornithological monitoring equipment to conducting bioacoustic analysis, Mason firmly established a home base in cultural evolution, from which the majority of his projects proceeded. He assessed the state of the interdisciplinary field using bibliographic methods; conducted a (still growing) collection of studies of music sampling through time; examined the spread of political extremism as a contagion; and used dynamics of house finch song across several decades to detect biases in social transmission. Mason is the most productive student researcher ever in our lab in terms of projects and publications. By shortly after his departure from our lab, he had published all seven chapters of his dissertation in peer-reviewed scientific journals. His publications from our lab will continue, as he also worked substantially with three of our Master’s students on their projects (ArMacarena, and Wendy). Following his PhD he became a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. He is part of the Minds and Traditions Research Group, where he continues to pursue a range of projects in cultural evolution.

 

Amanda Goldstein (2015-2021; BA in Biology, 2017; MA in Biology, 2021)

Amanda began her extensive time with us working on the house finch cultural evolution project. After receiving her BA in Biology, she transitioned into the MA program and looked for a new project. She is interested in ecology and conservation, and long wished that our lab would expand to include more projects in that direction. Her wish came true when Bobby developed the Bronx River Urban Ecology Project, and Amanda quickly joined the team. She fell in love with birds during her time in the lab, and so it was not surprising that her research focus became the diversity and abundance of birds on an urbanization gradient along the Bronx River. Amanda rapidly converted her thesis into a manuscript for publication, and became the second lab member (after Johanna) to publish her Master’s thesis in a peer-reviewed journal (Urban Naturalist) in 2022. She is also the first lab member to receive two degrees while in the lab. Amanda has held various positions in New York City as an environmental educator, ecologist, and conservationist, and she continues to work in this area.

Ratna Kanhai (2019-2020)

Ratna worked with Mason on the house finch cultural evolution project. She analyzed historical songs going back to the 1970s. She also was an EMT during COVID, responding frequently to coronavirus infection-related calls.

 

 

 

 

Joderick Castillo (2019-2020; BA in Biology, 2021)

Joderick worked with Mason on the house finch cultural evolution project. He analyzed songs recently recorded in NYC in preparation for a comparison with historical songs. He also worked at a hospital helping afflicted patients during COVID.

 

 

Jasmin Alim (2017-2020)

Jasmin’s main focus was in the lab of Dr. Mitchell Baker, determining the effects of natural synergists and organic pesticides for the control of the potato pests. But she was an active presence in our lab for several years. Eventually she conducted research with us as well– she accompanied Bobby on a research expedition to Awash National Park, Ethiopia, and studied nesting associations between Ploceus weaverbirds and other species there.

 

Cristina Morales (2017-2020; MA in Biology, 2020)

Cristina worked with Andy, exploring the nature of teaching and its relation to cooperation. She wrote a literature review on the evolution of teaching in human and nonhuman animals.

 

 

 

 

Arya Hawkins-Zafarnia (2017-2020; BA/MA in Biology, 2020)

Arya was one of the most energetic intellectual contributors to our lab from the time he joined us in the spring of 2017 for an unprecedented term of reading a book a week in our lit group.  He has a love of spiders, and an uncanny ability to find them.  Many ideas, field treks, discussions, and a wedding later, he left us for medical school at St. George’s in Grenada.

 

 

Oditi Debi (2019-2020; BA in Psychology, 2019)

Oditi was a research assistant on the Bronx River Urban Ecology Project, helping the research team (led by Bobby) to monitor water quality and survey biodiversity. She was of course also part of the rambunctious Oditi-Ritika-Maleha trio. She left our lab for pharmacy school preparation at St. Johns University, and then pharmacy school in Albany.

 

Christina Takos (2019)

Christina recorded house finches across Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County for the house finch cultural evolution project.

 

 

 

 

 

Sheila Gogineni (2019)

Sheila recorded house finches in Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County for the house finch cultural evolution project.

 

Michelle Mordukhaev
(2016-2019; B.A. in Biology, 2017; lab manager, 2016-2019)

Unflappable, cheerful, funny, kind, and universally liked, Michelle was lab manager from 2016-2019. In addition to keeping the lab going, Michelle contributed to a new cultural evolution webpage, worked with Liz on a project documenting the flora of Awash National Park in Ethiopia, and contributed to an academic tribute website in honor of Richard D. Alexander.  She also worked at Alley Pond Environmental Center and was a veterinary assistant at a Long Island animal hospital. She left our lab for veterinary school at St. George’s University in Grenada.

 

Ar Kornreich
(2016-2019; BA in Biology and Honors Thesis, 2019)

Ar holds the record for hitting the ground running after joining the lab, and her intelligence and industry was an inspiration to the entire group. Ar completed a pair of independent projects on female song. The first is an empirical study of the seldom-noticed phenomenon of female house finch singing. Ar found, contrary to assumptions in the literature, that female song can be just as long and complex as the much more familiar male song. This work was published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology The second project is a review of the literature on the function of female bird song. Ar submitted a paper for publication shortly after graduating, which was accepted at the Wilson Journal of Ornithology in 2020. Ar is the second person (after Khaleda) to publish a first-authored paper based on research performed in the lab as an undergraduate. Ar left our lab to take a doctoral student position in Biology in the laboratory of J. Alan Clark at Fordham University. 

 

Eric Roginek  (2014-2018; MA in Biology, 2018)
Eric was our second Master’s student to defend a research thesis, and brought a great deal of energy, thought, and unbridled inquisitiveness to our lab. He came to us with a background in behavioral psychology, and a broad interest in behavioral mechanisms. For his main Master’s project he analyzed house finch song variation in California (based on the recordings of Jackie Song) in order to determine the nature of its variation over space. He is also a tennis pro instructor. After leaving our lab, Eric obtained training in data science and a Master’s in computer science. He then entered the doctoral program in computer science at Fordham University.

 

 

 

Susie Yin
(2017-2018; 2nd B.A. in Biology, 2017)

Susie worked with Annie on a study of the recovery of oysters in the NYC area.  Focusing on the shoreline of Randall’s Island, in cooperation with the Randall’s Island Park Alliance, especially Chris Girgenti, Susie and Anne collected data on the presence and health of the population, the environmental features that correlate with establishment, and the extent of endoparasitism.

 

 

Anne Harrison
(2017-2018; B.A. in Biology, 2017)

Annie worked with Susie on a study of the recovery of oysters in the NYC area.  Focusing on the shoreline of Randall’s Island, in cooperation with the Randall’s Island Park Alliance, especially Chris Girgenti. Annie and Susie collected data on the presence and health of the population, the environmental features that correlate with establishment, and the extent of endoparasitism.

 

 

Charles Maniego
(2013-2018; B.A. in Biology 2015)

Charles painstakingly aligned (in an analogous way to genetic aligment by hand) songs of house finches (recorded by Dr. Paul Mundinger) to assess within- and between-individual variation in song structure. He received his BA in Biology and defended his Honors thesis in the lab, and then received a MS in Biomedical Science from Rutgers University. 

 

 

 

Natasza Fontaine
(2015 – 2018)

Natasza is a proficient artist, and one of the best naturalists in the history of our lab. She came to us from A&E television studios, where she was a producer. While in the lab she was engaged in the mockingbird project, recording their song and making behavioral observations. She also got a position at the New York Botanical Garden, where she worked on the World Flora Online Project. She left our lab to enter the Evolution & Ecology Doctoral Program at Florida State University, studying plant biodiversity in the Austin Mast Lab.

 

Daniel Mann
(2015-2018; PhD in Linguistics, 2018)

Coming to NYC from Arkansas where he had received a BA in History and Spanish, Dan earned a Master’s in Applied Linguistics from Columbia. He then received a PhD in Linguistics here at CUNY. He was essentially coadvised, spending much time in our lab but his linguistics advisor and dissertation Chair being Juliette Blevins at the Graduate Center. Dan has performed research on language acquisition, phonetics and phonology, and comparative and historical linguistics. In our lab he primarily studied the permissivity of vocal learning in the house finch, demonstrating house finch learning of canary trills; this work is published in Bioacoustics. He is now continuing research on both human and bird projects as a postdoctoral scientist in the laboratory of Tecumseh Fitch at the University of Vienna.

 

Sandy (Harsangeet) Gill
(2015-2018; BA in Biology, 2016)

Sandy helped analyze swamp sparrow vocal development based on recordings of captive individuals. She was careful and thoughtful in her analysis, leaving a good set of data for further analysis when she moved away to upstate New York.

 

 

 

M. Aaron Owen (2010-2017; PhD in Biology, 2017).

Aaron made first contact only a month after the lab was founded. Seven years later he was the most consistently present, social, and intellectually active lab member to have left us so far. Through extensive field work in India, Hawaii, Jamaica, St. Croix, and Mauritius, he discovered rapid evolution by sexual selection following introduction of the small Indian mongoose. He defended his dissertation, Ecology, Evolution, and Sexual Selection in the Invasive, Globally Distributed Small Indian Mongoose (Urva auropunctata) in April 2017. His most important findings were published in 2020 in the journal Evolution. While here, Aaron was a skilled and popular laboratory and recitation instructor. After leaving our lab, Aaron pursued a career in data science, worked for Major League Baseball for a few years, and then moved to the dating app Hinge. His most important research findings were published in 2020 in the journal Evolution, but he also has scientific papers in the Journal of Insect BehaviorAnimal Behaviour, and the Canadian Journal of Zoology.

 

Anna McPherran (2014-2017; BA in Biology and Honors Thesis, 2016). Anna was a pillar of the lab despite her undergraduate status. Her independent research tested for an association between human land use at at a microscale on the phonological structure of house finch songs at several urban areas in California. She also assisted Aaron with his mongoose research in St. Croix. She left us for graduate work in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Stony Brook University.

 

 

 

Christian Van Deurs (2016-2017; MA in Biology). Christian reviewed the evidence for cultural traditions and cultural evolution in mammals for his Master’s thesis. He is a science teacher in the NYC school system by day, and a rock star by night.

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Goodman
(2016-2017)

Jonathan has been collaborating with DL for years, and continues to do so, but for a couple of years he was officially a postgraduate intern in evolutionary philosophy in our lab. He majored in behavioral biology & neuroscience at Emory University, and did his graduate work in philosophy at University College London and the University of London. His research while interning with us focused on two main topics. First, he examined the degree to which evolutionary theory can explain morality and moral commands such as The Golden Rule. Second, he began a collaborative project (that continues today) pursuing conceptual clarity among various perspectives in the study of cultural evolution. Jonathan then took a fellowship at the Imperial College London and entered Cambridge University’s Department in Archaeology as a doctoral student working with Robert Foley. He is an accomplished editor and scientific journalist, having published widely on various topics including cancer treatment, viral evolution, natural selection, and academic ethics.

 

Ronveer Chakraborty (2014-2017).After graduating from Queens College with a BA in Biology, Ronveer entered our lab and became one of our most funloving and active members. He studied the moral traditions of the Tiv people.

 

 

 

 

Mark Megerian (2013-2017; BA in Biology). Mark was long our manager of contributions to the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought (OBET).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The OBET team:  the following computer science students developed the software that ran the second (independent) installation of the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought (OBET).

Theresa Crupi (2017; BA in Computer Science).

Stacy Wang (2016; BA in Computer Science).

Teresa Wu (2015-2016; BA in Computer Science).

Nikki Hanson (2014-2015; BA in Computer Science).

 

Giulietta Coppola (2015-2016; BA in Biology), house finch cultural evolution. Julie also had some crazy adventures in our ornithology class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khaleda Khan
(2009-2016; BA with Honors Thesis, 2011; lab manager, 2011-2016)

Khaleda joined our lab at its inception in 2009, and helped shape the lab in innumerable ways in its formative years. She did more than anyone else to establish a lab culture, with her bright openness, irreverent wit, and confident individualism. She became our lab’s first manager, a position she defined and created for herself, and maintained for six years. She achieved great success in research, mentoring, and collection curation. Khaleda first studied the behavior of African Ploceus weaverbirds; for her honors undergraduate thesis she characterized the behavior of male village weavers (Ploceus cucullatus) at a breeding colony in Ethiopia. She later brought Bobby onto this project, which is now published in two papers in Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology. Khaleda’s paper there on male behavior at the colony represents the first first-author publication for undergraduate research in our lab. In later research she helped describe the interaction of inherited and learned factors in the development of swamp sparrow song. She also spent three years as the Archivist of the Paul Mundinger house finch recording collection, training and leading dozens of undergraduate researchers in the identification and parsing of the songs of thousands of house finch individuals.  After leaving our lab she obtained training in web design, and is now a software developer for Quadio, the social streaming platform for college music.

 

Chenghui Ju (2011-2015; PhD., Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, 2015).

Chenghui “Oranju” was our lab’s second researcher to defend a doctoral dissertation, although with her rapid sprint to the finish she was the first to complete all requirements and get the degree!  She defended her dissertation, Cultural Evolution in Natural Populations: A Quantitative Bioacoustic Analysis, in July 2015. She developed a software package for bioacoustic analysis, FinchCatcher, which set the bar and established our analytical methods for the cultural evolution project for years to come. She then took a faculty position at the Nanjing Forestry University. She then helped additional students finish their cultural evolution and bird song projects from a distance. Her research in our lab is published in The Auk.

 

Cheyenne Ganesh (2013-2015; BA in Biology and Honors thesis). Cheyenne joyfully traced vocal development in swamp sparrows, detailing implications for learned vs. inherited song features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniele DeLeone (2014-2015; CUNY BA in Anthrozoology) worked on cultural evolution and the Trolley Problem. She has gone on to schooling in alternative medicine and clinical psychology, and now lives in Sweden. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elliot Aguilar (2009-2015; PhD., Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, 2016).

Elliot was our lab’s first doctoral student, brought an energetic spirit, a diverse and quantitative intellect, and a remarkable independence– as well as our first NSF funding!– to the lab. He was the first member of the lab to study cultural evolution, formed an impressive collaborative and idea-exchange network, and connected the lab to several researchers in the process, especially Stefano Ghirlanda of Brooklyn College. He defended his dissertation,Models and Methods in Social and Cultural Evolution, in June 2015. Elliot then took a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, in the laboratory of Erol Akçay. Elliot trained in data science following his postdoc, and then took a job with Vroom, the online auto retailer. His work in our lab is published in Theoretical Population Biology and PLoS ONE.

 

Gianna McArthur
(2011-2015)

Gianna came to us from Vassar as a graduate student and was one of the first lab members to record house finches. Later she became our most significant contributor to the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought (OBET). She also worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  She has since become an attorney.

 

 

 

Abudoula Nulumu (2014-2015) preanalyzed house finch songs for the cultural evolution project. Abudoula also developed a valuable mobile quiz game app for the lab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johanna Navarro (2009-2015; MA, Biology, 2015). 

Johanna was our lab’s first Master’s student and was the first to receive a Master’s degree– and she published almost immediately after defending (in PLoS ONE). She is independent, confident, and thoughtful. Her hand was so steady (perhaps from years of applying makeup to women’s eyes at Bloomingdales) that she could operate the UV-VIS spectrophotometer with virtually no user error (most researchers have ~3%). She helped establish graduate research in the lab, along with Wendy and Rose. She performed and published experimental tests on the effect of light on bird egg color, and also conducted a comparative study of the evolution of egg color in ratites. After leaving us she became a faculty member at Queensborough Community College.

 

Gennesis Zuleta (2013-2014), studied morality of the Mossi and Kpelle people of West Africa. Genn worked at a furious pace while here, and then went on to receive a Master’s in Psychology at Hunter College.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seema Choudhary (2009-2014; BA in Biology, and Honors Thesis, 2011).

Seema was one of our first three lab members (along with Stephanie and Khaleda). She studied original reports of local uses of woody plants in The Gambia in West Africa, and discovered several local medicinal uses that had not yet been documented. Seema brought her project nearly to the point of being a monograph, a goal we still hope to reach.

 

 

 

Stephanie Kandasami (2009-2014; BA in Biology, and Honors Thesis, 2011).

Stephanie, one of our first three lab members (along with Seema and Khaleda), studied the divergence of moral codes between West African cultures, a daunting long-term project she began and led for five years, and that continues in our lab. Steph was social glue and a force for friendliness and good will in the lab. She left us to earn a Master’s of Public Health at Columbia University, and now continues to work for the wellness of humanity at The Global Fund.

 

 

Alison (Bromberg) Powell (2012-2014). Alison took over the swamp sparrow vocal development project for her tenure as a graduate student, in between being an energetic proponent of Weezer. I will be forever grateful for that opportunity she provided me (fulfilling her promise upon joining our lab) of hanging out with them for an evening after their show. 

 

 

 

 

Julieana Steiner (2013-2014; BA, Biology, 2014), house finch cultural evolution; lab comedienne– razor sharp wit with millisecond timing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trisha Guduru (2013), house finch cultural evolution, one of the first cohort of those who located and parsed songs digitized from Dr. Paul Mundinger’s recoreings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Lee (2013-2014; BA, Biology, 2013) worked on house finch cultural evolution project. Simon was the first student to productively parse and document house finch songs from the Mundinger archive for Cornell’s Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds. 

 

 

 

 

 

Maureen (Pereyra) Banach (2011-2012; BA, Biology, 2012). Maureen was one of the pioneers of our lab’s foray into the analysis of vocal ontogeny in birds, focusing on the swamp sparrow. Upon distinguishing herself in the Honors program, she left us to become a PhD student at the University of Rochester. She defended her dissertation in Immunology in 2018, and then took a postdoc at the University of Colorado Denver.

 

 

 

 

 

Jackie Song (2011-2013). Jackie conducted an extensive and well-documented survey of house finch song in California, assisted by Andy, that led to analyses by EricAnna, and Wendy. Jackie established our Facebook page, and kicked our social gatherings into higher gear.

 

 

 

 

 

Nardai Mootoo, (2010-2012), Nardai contributed to the project on moral diversity among West African cultures, and also to the Online Bibliography of Environmental Thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren Adragna (2011-2012), Swamp sparrow vocal development. Lauren was our lab’s first– but certainly not the last!– animal lover with veterinary aspirations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Chin-Hong (2010-2012), Ethiopian flora. Rose is a lifelong botanist at heart, and still frequents Queens College.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Slomovich (2009-2010), Swamp sparrow vocal development. Sharon became the first of our lab members to go on to medical school, after which she has also actively engaged in medical research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beata (Rozbicka) Sadigh (2009-2010). Betty studied the morality of the Bemba people of Zambia, which would later feature in Stephanie‘s comparative study. Betty has been back occasionally, in courses and discussion seminars. She received a Master’s degree, and then became a teacher. 

 

 

 

 

 

Rita Monfort (2009-2011), Parasite epidemiology in baboons, Wolbachia-host coevolution, cuckoo-host coevolution, human evolution, and sperm competition in baboons. Rita performed research in Ethiopia during our first expedition there in 2010.

Index
Dozens more students have interned in the lab or been advisees. But the names on this page, represented in this table, represent those who contributed substantially to the life and pursuits of the lab over the years. Search this page and the news (home) page for their names to find out more about them. (Crazy that we have not had a single repeat name with 70 lab members (plus David) over 13 years, if spelling counts)
Aaron Abudoula Alex Alexis Alison Amanda Andrea Andreas Andrew Angelinna
Anna Anne Ar Arya Beata Bobby Catalina Charles Chenghui Cheyenne
Christian Christina Cristina Daniel Daniele Danielle Elliot Eric Franny Gennesis
Gianna Giulietta Jacqueline Jacquelyn Jasmin Joderick Johanna Jonathan Julieana Katherine
Khaleda Lauren Leora Lizbeth Macarena Maleha Mark Mason Maureen Michelle
Nardai Natasza Oditi Ratna Rita Ritika Ronveer Rose Salvatore Sandy
Sara Seema Shari Sharon Sheila Simon Stephanie Susie Trisha Wendy

 

Lab People, 2009-2017

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