Congratulations Rosalyn!

Congratulations to Rosalyn Price-Waldman for successfully defended her MS thesis. Her project investigated the interplay of natural and sexual selection in diversification. Rosalyn will begin working on her PhD in Cassie Stoddard’s lab at Princeton this fall. She will be missed and we wish her the best of luck!

Rosalyn Price-Waldman

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome Ben!

The Burns lab welcomes new MS student Ben Scott. Ben received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Occidental College. While at Occidental, Ben worked in the Moore Lab of Zoology with John McCormack on phylogeny and trait evolution of New World Jays. Ben also spent some time working at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, home of the largest egg collection in the world. Welcome Ben!



Posted in Uncategorized

Rosalyn at Molecular Evolution Workshop

Rosalyn had a busy summer, starting with two weeks working with collaborators in the Faircloth lab at LSU and ending with ten days at the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Workshop on Molecular Evolution in Woods Hole, MA. The workshop provided an overview on topics in molecular evolution including phylogenetic inference, population genetics, comparative genomics, and much more. One focus of the workshop was hands-on instruction in the latest software, often by the authors of the programs. The workshop was an incredible experience, and Rosalyn is excited to apply what she learned to her thesis work on the phylogenomics and trait evolution of tanagers.
Workshop in Molecular Evolution

Attendees at 2018 Workshop on Molecular Evolution held at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA

Posted in Uncategorized

Origin of Darwin’s Finches

Darwin’s finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation, but few studies have attempted to reconstruct the biogeographic origins of Darwin’s finches. Burns lab MS student Erik Funk studied this question in the third chapter of his thesis which was published last month in the Auk (and put on the cover). This study revisited an early paper by Kevin Burns, Shannon Hackett, and the late Nedra Klien (Burns et al. 2002). The earlier study showed that Darwin’s finches likely originated from a Caribbean species, given that so many of their close relatives are found in the region. Erik’s paper provides an important update, with improved biogeographic methods and a newer phylogeny. Erik’s results were a bit more equivocal than the 2002 paper. Although a Caribbean origin is plausible and likely, a South American origin can not be ruled out. You can read the paper here, and there was also a nice summary of the overall question and Erik’s results in the Guardian.

Auk Cover

July 2018 Auk Cover, highlighting Funk and Burns (2018). Picture of Vegetarian Finch by Scott Taylor.

Origin of Darwin's Finches

Biogeographic Reconstruction of Darwin’s Finches

Posted in Uncategorized

Congratulations Amelia!

Congratulations to Amelia Demery who successfully defended her MS thesis last week. Her research involved looking at the role morphology plays in tanager diversification. Amelia will begin working on her PhD at Cornell University this fall. We will miss her energy and enthusiasm, but we wish her the best of luck!

Amelia Demery

Posted in Uncategorized

Burns lab at 2018 AOS

The Burns lab had a great time at last month’s meeting of the American Ornithological Society. Four presentations had Burns lab members as authors. Amelia and Rosalyn presented parts of their MS theses, and Nick presented work he performed in John McCormack’s lab. Plus, we got to hang out with past Burns lab students Nick Mason and Erik Funk and future Burns lab student Ben Scott. In addition to all the science, we enjoyed many excellent birds both during and after the meeting. Amelia and Rosalyn both received travel awards to attend the meeting. Amelia, who is chair of the student affairs committee, did a great job as MC of the student quiz bowl. Former Burns lab student Nick Mason received the Marion Jenkinson Service Award. Lastly, Kevin Burns was part of team that received the Brina Kessel Award given to the best paper in the Auk in the last 4 years. They received the award for their paper on 9-primaried oscines relationships:

Barker, F. K., K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2015. New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies. Auk 132:333-348.

Burns Lab 2018

Burns lab past, present, and future at 2018 AOS Meeting: Erik Funk, Nick Maon, Nick Vinciguerra, Rosalyn Price-Waldman, Amelia Demery, Kevin Burns, and Ben Scott

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome Nick!

The Burns lab welcomes new MS student Nick Vinciguerra. Nick received his Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder. After graduating, Nick worked at the Institute of Arctic Biology in Alaska, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and in the lab of John McCormack at Occidental College. Welcome Nick!

Nick Vinciguerra

Posted in Uncategorized