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Birds Research

Bird Division research is centered around our collections.

Shannon Hackett works on the systematics and biogeography of birds, focusing currently on genomic-scale data and how they contribute to an understanding of the tree of life for birds (the Early Bird Project).  She is deeply committed to creating life-long learners, and therefore active in public and school education.  A recent project, the Emerging Pathogens Project, represents a new research direction and expanded opportunities for learning.

John Bates uses multi-taxon and comparative approaches to study genetic structure and biogeography of tropical bird species distributed in South America and Africa.  His research has also focused on investigating the genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation. Currently, he is engaged in a project to assess global climate change and its influence on genetic variation within and among populations of African birds.  In addition to addressing evolutionary questions, an understanding of the spation and temporal aspects of genetic variability can have relevance to conservation biology.

David Willard has spent the last 30 years developing a collection of migrant birds that allows us to gain significant insight into avian migrations.  The results of this work have resonated throughout the Chicagoland area and are responsible for the "Lights Out Chicago" program, where city buildings turn their lights out during critical periods in spring and fall migration.  Dave also conducts research on distribution of East African and South American birds.

Steven Goodman is studying the living and fossil mammals and birds of Madagascar, making remarkable new discoveries of species, documenting patterns of biological diversity, and providing advanced training to Malagasy graduate students in systematics, ecology and conservation biology.