Simon Fraser University
Growing up on a sheep farm in eastern Canada, I was inspired by the natural world from an early age. I quickly became especially fascinated by the colors, songs and spectacular movements of birds. As a teenager I set out on my first tropical birding adventure, and began working as a field technician conducting songbird surveys, bird-banding, and nest-searching. In graduate school, I began studying the evolution of blue egg color, and led exploratory projects on novel breeding behaviors of Smith’s Longspurs in the arctic tundra, and chats, cuckoos and orioles in the thorn scrub of west Mexico. My deep appreciation for the beauty and complexity of ecological systems finally led me to the field of conservation biology, where I am currently finishing my PhD thesis on the potential causes of population declines in a nocturnal aerial insectivore bird, the whip-poor-will. Inspired by temporal trends in the types of insects and isotopes found in the guano left behind by swifts roosting in old chimneys, I came up with the idea to explore whip-poor-will diet through the isotopes found in museum specimens. The intriguing results of that work have inspired this project.