I became interested in birds during High School, and later gained training and experience in field ornithology as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College and Acadia University. I was tremendously fortunate to proceed to the University of Michigan for my doctoral work—which concerned the social ecology and conservation of Galápagos mockingbirds—under the supervision of Dr. Peter Grant, the world's expert on Darwin's finches. My dissertation research focused on the effects of El Niño-related weather variation on the cooperative breeding system of the archipelago's four mockingbird species. I am one of the world's experts on this wonderful group of birds.
I began teaching at Villanova in 1991, after working for 3 years on Florida Scrub-Jays under the direction of Dr. Glen Woolfenden. I have continued to focus with my students on mimids (mockingbirds and allies), including endangered species such as the Socorro Mockingbird, the St. Lucia White-breasted Thrasher, and the critically imperiled Cozumel Thrasher, but we began concentrating on hybridization in chickadees in 1998. This work has been central to my research program ever since, resulting in many important publications.
I am excited now to collaborate on the tody research, which will nicely combine my experience with Neotropical birds and my expertise concerning hybridization.