My start with birds
I've always been interested in nature, but my love of birds started when I got a pet parrot at 6 years old. My lovebird, Belle, was a source of fascination for me as I tried to understand her behavior and the way she communicated.
I knew I wanted to go into science, so I attended the University of Dayton where I got my B.S. in biology. There, I discovered my love of research. I first got experience in a lab studying the deregulation of cell growth and proliferation during cancer using fruit flies as a model system. From there I worked on other projects sampling macroinvertebrates and fish, and joined a project investigating migratory waterfowl use of the Great Miami River.
Learning how research works, and that you can study ANYTHING you want was a turning point for me. I reconnected with my love of birds and fascination of their behavior. I completed an internship with Juneau Audubon Society and the Forest Service while I was in undergrad, monitoring nests of Artic terns and tree swallows, and banding rufous hummingbirds.
After finishing my undergraduate degree a year early, I knew immediately that I wanted to go into research, and started my PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Outside of research, my hobbies include keeping fish and plants, cross-stitching, and hiking.