Focused on nectar-feeding animals, our lab studies of organismal mechanisms (e.g. physiology, biomechanics) in light of biotic and abiotic interactions, with the goal of establishing explicit links between physical laws and ‘rules of life’, at an organismal and ecological scale. A central challenge of biological studies is to describe functional links between underlying architecture (e.g. genotype, phenotype) and emergent phenomena (e.g. performance, ecological patterns). To meet this challenge, it is necessary to identify and quantify causal relationships between variation in traits, such as wing and bill shape, and corresponding capabilities, such as cost of flight and feeding, of their possessors. Having this information allows us to unveil the connections between these capabilities and realized patterns (e.g. resource use, competition strategies), and thus their ecological and evolutionary implications.
Many common nectarivores (e.g. hummingbirds, honeyeaters, bats, bees) stand out as ideal study organisms because scientists have studied the details of their biology, ecology, and evolution for many years. The way in which they find, access, and intake nectar (their efficiency, preferences, and limits) will determine their peaks and ranges of maximal performance on several environmental axes. For this reason, increasing our knowledge of aspects such as nectar-feeding mechanics, aerodynamics, and energetics of floral visitation, will have profound implications for understanding and predicting foraging behaviors and ecophysical responses, as testable biological rules.
We are deeply committed to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion in academia. This commitment includes a strong focus on anti-racism and opportunities for underrepresented groups in science. We strive to achieve this by fomenting a lab culture of communicating the importance of our research to both scientists and non-scientists, recruiting and retaining budding scientists from all backgrounds, assessing excellence through the lens of diversity, fostering connections between students at all levels and researchers at all levels (K12-undergrads-techs-grads-postdocs-faculty,etc.), and investing heavily in the development of students both in their research skills and in their work-life balance.
We are constantly assessing new ways to promote equity at all levels, increasing the diversity of perspectives in science, and our chief endeavor is to make our lab an example of inclusion and success for everyone, aiming to eradicate discrimination in academia. Below you will find our CORE-CODE, with resources on each one of those fronts: