Hello! My name is Clara Cooper-Mullin and I am currently a PhD student at the University of Rhode Island. Although originally from New York, I earned my B.S. degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, and a M.S. degree from The Ohio State University.
In college I landed my first true field job in New Jersey which allowed me to assist on a smorgasbord of bird related projects including examining nest temperatures of Least Terns, and monitoring the success of heron breeding colonies. From there, I was hooked! Since then, I have worked on a project banding birds in Arizona, examined Northern Cardinal feathers in Ohio, looked at nest success rates of Savannah Sparrows in the Bay of Fundy, and the importance of protected areas and flooding patterns for bird populations in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. At The Ohio State University, I examined how the metabolic rate of muscle cells from Japanese quail was linked to their growth rates.
Although I have been lucky enough to study birds in many contexts, I am most fascinated with the incredible feats of endurance undertaken by migratory songbirds. Some of these birds are doubling their body weight and then flying hundreds to thousands of miles without stopping. It would be as if a human woke up one morning, ate as many cheeseburgers as they could to double their body weight in a day, and then ran from Canada to Florida without pausing! I truly want to know how the physiology of songbirds allows them to undergo these journeys without harming themselves or their cells, and how their physiology could drive their behavioral decisions during this life stage.
This funding will be essential for me to complete my PhD thesis, and will help me to answer some of the questions surrounding the physiology of birds in migration!