Alumni

Please send publication and employment updates to the Animal Biology Graduate Program Office by email.

The Office of Graduate Studies has partnered with the Cal Aggie Alumni Association to offer our alumni and friends a multitude of benefits - visit their website for more details at http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/alumni/.

Jennifer Brennan

Major Professor: Dr. James Millam

Home department: Animal Science Department

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences -  UC Davis 2009, B.S. Biology - James Madison University 2006

Thesis Title: Isolation and identification of bioactive polyphenolic compounds in Polygonum dumetorum

Current position: PhD student, Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry Graduate group, University of California, Davis

Research interests: Environmental toxicology, environmental/analytical chemistry, ecology, endocrine-disrupting compounds, bioassays.

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Gena Fagerberg

Major Professor: Dr. Joy Mench

Home department: Animal Science Department

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences -  UC Davis 2008, B.S. Animal Science - University of Vermont 2004

Thesis Title: The Effects of Rearing Broiler Chickens under Different Light Intensities on Fear Responses

Current position: Veterinary student at University of Wisconsin

Research interests: My primarily interest is in improving the lives of captive avian species, be they in a production, pet, or zoological setting. Upon leaving UC Davis, I began attending the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine with this goal in mind. I will graduate in the spring of 2011 and likely continue on either in an MPH program or private practice with a focus on backyard poultry as well as psittacine species.

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Aaron Haiman

Major Professor: Dr. Thomas Coombs-Hahn

Home department: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior - Division of Biological Sciences

Degrees:  M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis - 2011, B.S. Environmental Sciences UC Berkeley, 2006.

Thesis Title: Levels of Variation in Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustesvespertinus) Calls and Morphology

Current position: Ph.D. student in Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis

Research interests: The study of bird ecology, evolution and conservation are my major areas of interest. The first step towards conserving biodiversity is to determine how many distinct species and subspecies exist. To this end I am examining the vocal, physical, and genetic differences that exist between different geographic populations of Evening Grosbeaks, and whether they represent separate subspecies. Determining if any of these differences act as barriers to mixing between these populations, and also whether any of these differences represent adaptations to specific resources will be the next areas I hope to study. For example, if different calls exist, do individuals only respond their own call? If different bill shapes exist, is this an indication that different populations eat different seeds and so use different types of habitat? These questions, and others like them, are crucial to understanding and preserving the natural world around us, and I hope to pursue their answers in my career as an avian biologist.

Publications:

 Haiman, A.N.K., Newell, F.L.,  Narango, D.L., Elder, J.M., Leonhard, L.D., Philhower-Gillen, J., Johnson, A.M., and Rodewald, A.D. 2013. Occurrence of polygyny and double brooding in the eastern wood-pewee. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 125: 251-259.


Haiman, A.N.K. 2012. The evening grosbeak: evolution in action. Birding Magazine 44: 34-40.


Haiman, A.N.K., Gendi, K.M., and Hahn, T.P. 2012. Variation in the flight calls and responsiveness among individuals and types in the Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus). (Poster and Abstract) Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting, Charleston, SC.

Haiman, A.N., Hahn, T.P., Brazeal, K.R., De Castro, D.M., Gendi, K.M., Bomze, L.M., and Watts, H.E. 2012. Evolution of photorefractoriness in the Cardueline finches. (Poster and Abstract) Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting, Charleston, SC.
 

Haiman, A.N.K. 2007. Skaggs Island and surroundings. Pacific Raptor Report 28:28-29. Pericoli, R.V., and A.M. Fish, and A.N.K.

Haiman. 2006. Urban-nesting Cooper's Hawks monitored bycitizens in Berkeley, California. Poster at the Society for Conservation Biology annual meeting. San Jose, California.

Haiman, A.N.K. 2002. A Gyrfalcon in Oregon. Pacific Raptor Report 23:18-19.

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Mitchell Hinton

Major Professor: Dr. Andrea Townsend

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences -  UC Davis 2015, B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Tulane University, 2013

 Thesis Title:

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Charlene Lujan-Vega

Major Professor: Dr. Michelle Hawkins

Home department: Epidemiology and Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine

E-mail address: cmlujan@ucdavis.edu

Website:

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis in progress, D.V.M. National University of San Marcos – 2011, B.S. Veterinary Medicine , National University of San Marcos, 2008.

Research interests:  My area of interest is in avian infectious and non-infectious diseases. Currently, I am doing my research on avian chlamydiosis in raptors. I will study three free-ranging populations of Buteo spp. in Northern California and look for the evidence of exposure, infection, and genotype of Chlamydia psittaci, which is a pathogen of zoonotic interest. Additionally, I am doing a retrospective study in atherosclerosis in raptors. This non-infectious disease has been poorly studied in these raptorial species.

Publications:

Saggese MD, Pedrosa F, Lujan-Vega C, Delgadillo Keenan L, Mattiello R, Soler-Tovar D, Hidalgo E. 2012. Avian Medicine in Latin America. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 26(4): 258-265.

Gonzales-Viera O, Lujan-Vega C, Chavera-Castillo A, Cardenas-Callirgos J, Tantalean M. 2009. Pathological lesions caused by Profilicollis altmani (Perry, 1942) Van cleave, 1947 (Acanthocephala) in a gray gull (Leucophaeus modestus) (Tschudi, 1843) from the Peruvian coast. Neotropical Helminthology 3 (2): 115-120.

 
   

Angela Merritt

Major Professor: Dr. Joshua Hull

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences -  UC Davis 2015, B.S. Biology, University of Minnesota Duluth, 2005

Thesis Title: Lessons from the Past: The Endangered California Ridgway's Rail (Rallus obsoletus obsoletus) as an Indicator for

underlying Changes to the San Francisco Bay Estuary.

Current position: Trainee with the U.S. Geological Survey Dixon Field Office of the Western Ecological Research Center

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Shannon Murphy - Graduate Student Association Representative 2010-11

Major Professor: Dr. James Millam

Home department: Animal Science

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis - 2011, B.S. Biology, Towson University, 2008.

Thesis Title: Bathing and Preening Behavior in Captive Orange-winged Amazon Parrots (Amazona amazonica)

Current position: Biologist for Consulting Firm

Research interests: My interests include all aspects of captive parrot welfare as well as training via operant conditioning. My research at UC Davis will focus on assessing the motivation of socially isolated Orange-winged Amazons (Amazona amazonica) to gain access to live video and audio playback of conspecifics. Millions of parrots in captivity are socially isolated from either conspecifics, nonconspecifics, or both. Allowing socially isolated parrots to interact with other parrots via webcam could be an improvement to their captive environment. I am also interested in the etiology of stereotypic and feather damaging behavior (FDB), and how to prevent or diminish such behaviors in captivity. FDB is one of the greatest concerns regarding parrots in captivity. FDB is hypothesized to develop as a form of redirected foraging. It has recently been found that Orange-winged Amazons (A. amazonica) prefer feed pellets of a size that resembles natural foods (e.g., palm nuts), and which increase overall levels of foraging behavior to that approaching birds in the wild. We hypothesize that naturalizing the foraging time budget of captive parrots may diminish FDB. Our research could have widespread implications for the millions of parrots kept in captivity.

Publications:

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Shaun Oldenburger

Major Professor: Dr. John Eadie

Home department: Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis 2008, B.S. Animal Ecology - Iowa State University 2001

Thesis Title: Breeding Ecology of Mallards in the Central Valley of California

Current position: Associate Wildlife Biologist, Waterfowl Program, California Department of Fish & Game

Research interests: Population dynamics of waterfowl and other birds in North America. Habitat management of wetland habitats. Foraging ecology. Radiotelemetry. Wildlife-habitat relationships.

Publications:

Harvest of Tule greater white-fronted geese at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. In Prep.

Species classification of light geese using retrix lengths in harvest surveys: examining current methodologies. In Prep.

Behavioral responses of spring-staging Aleutian cackling geese to hazing and refuge formation on the North Coast of California. In prep.

Ecology and Management of Mallards in California: A Review. in prep.

Long-term Changes in Survival and Harvest Rates on a Resident Goose Population in Northeastern California: Complexity of Regulation and Conspecific Harvest. In prep.

Demographics of Mallards in the Central Valley of California. In prep.

Breeding Ecology of Mallards in the Agricultural Habitat of the Sacramento Valley of California, USA. In prep.

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Ami Olson

Major Professor: Dr. John Eadie

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences -  UC Davis 2015, B.S. General Biology - UC San Diego, 2005

Thesis Title:

Current position:

Research interests:

Publications:

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Brian Olson

Major Professor: Dr. John Eadie

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis - 2011, B.S. Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology UC Davis, 2007.

Thesis Title: An Experimental Evaluation of Cost Effective Moist-soil Management in the Sacramento Valley of California

Current Position: Ranch Manager with Roosevelt Ranch LLC

Research interests: My research focuses on moist-soil management techniques used in the Central Valley of California. The Central Valley of California hosts the highest concentration of waterfowl anywhere in North America. Unfortunately over the past 150 years, the amount of wetlands supporting waterfowl wintering in the Central Valley has been reduced by approximately 90 percent. Waterfowl populations, on the other hand, have remained relatively stable. This has placed an increased importance on the wetlands remaining in the valley. Moist-soil management is a technique used by wetland managers in an effort to increase seed (food) production in units used by waterfowl. This usually involves manipulating when water is drawn off a unit in the spring, when it is flooded in the fall, and the provision of irrigations during the summer months. Previous research funded by the Raveling endowment (Naylor 2002), illustrated that summer irrigations doubled seed production in sampled units. This along with the challenges associated with summer irrigations (mosquito abatement costs, water availability, etc) led to a research project focusing on a cost/benefit analysis of summer irrigations. Our project focuses specifically on the number and duration of summer irrigations, and their influence on seed production, mosquito production, problem or undesirable vegetation, and invertebrate production. The costs associated with the acquisition of summer water, the control of problem vegetation, and mosquito abatement can make moist-soil management prohibitively expensive for some managers. By evaluating the estimates of the response variables mentioned above, and the costs associated with them, we will eventually be able to determine a cost-effective management protocol that would be replicable throughout the valley.

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Shelley Davis Parker

Major Professor: Dr. Thomas Coombs-Hahn

Home department: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior - Division of Biological Sciences

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis 2009, B.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis 2007

Thesis Title: Heterospecific Vocal Mimicry in Cassin's Finch (carpodacus cassinii): A Descriptive Analysis.

Current position:

Research interests: My general interests include bird behavior and conservation biology of birds. My research focuses on quantifying birdsong structure and exploring the possible function of heterospecific vocal mimicry. Among passerines, oscines typically learn song by copying a tutor heard during early development. This tutor is usually a parent or other conspecific, yet some oscines also copy the songs of different species. I am currently evaluating this phenomenon in Cassin’s Finch (Carpodacus cassinii), a migratory songbird in which males sing to solicit a female for mating. The male song is highly variable in note type, song type, and higher-order syntactical arrangements. I am interested in learning if the incorporation of heterospecific imitations gives males a selective advantage in gaining mates. If so, I hope to ascertain whether females are responding to song complexity in itself, or perhaps assessing specific information conveyed by those imitations such as male wintering location.

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Tamsen Polley

Major Professor: Dr. Joanne Paul-Murphy

Home department: Medicine & Epidemiology (School of Veterinary Medicine)

E-mail address: tmpolley@ucdavis.edu

Website:

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis in progress, Honors B.S. Microbiology , Oregon State University, 2012.

Research interests:  Avian infectious disease, parasitology, and medicine are all areas that hold my interest. My thesis will be on the effects of naturalistic feeding behavior on the wellness of captive psittacines, specifically orange-winged amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica), through promoting podomandibulation (foot-mouth feeding) with large-sized parrot biscuits. Captive psittacines are typically fed bite-size pellets, seeds, and cut produce that limit opportunities for podomandibulation. Captive psitticines spend 40% less time actively engaging in naturalistic feeding behavior compared to their wild counterparts on average. The suppression of foraging behavior has been linked to the cause of pathologic behavior, and the hypothesis is that an increase in daily foraging behavior will increase the wellness of captive psittacines. My long-term goals include pursuing a career in avian veterinary medicine and research.

Publications:

Polley, T.,  Atkinson, S.D., Jones, G.R., and Bartholomew, J.L.. 2013.  Supplemental Description of Myxobolus squamalis (Myxozoa).” Journal of Parasitology, 99:4, 725-728 (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1645/12-109.1).

Feng, X., Rodriguez-Contreras, D., Polley, T., Lye, L., Scott, D., Burchmore, R. J.S., Beverley, S. M., Landfear, S. M.  2013 ,‘Transient’ Genetic Suppression Facilitates Generation of Hexose Transporter Null Mutants in Leishmania mexicana.  Molecular Microbiology, 87(2): 412-29. Epub 2012 Dec 10. (doi: 10.1111/mmi.12106).

 Polley T. 2012. Supplemental description of Myxobolus squamalis (Myxozoa) & Epidemiology of M. squamalis at two Oregon hatcheries. Oregon State University, University Honors College Thesis.

Pope WH, Jacobs-Sera D, Russell DA, Peebles CL, Al-Atrache Z, et al. Expanding the Diversity of Mycobacteriophages: Insights into Genome Architecture and Evolution. PLoS ONE 6(1): e16329 (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016329).

Kristofer Robinson

Major Professor: Dr. Daniel W. Anderson

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis; B.S. Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, UC Davis; A.S. in Biological Sciences Antelope Valley College

Thesis Title: Brood size and nesting phenology in Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's Grebe (A. clarkii) in northern California

Publications:

Robison, K. M., D. W. Anderson, and R. E. Robison. 2015. Brood-size and Nesting Phenology in Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark’s Grebe (A. clarkii) in Northern California. Waterbirds, 1(38): 99-105.  

Robison, R. E., D. W. Anderson, and K. M. Robison. 2014. Lake elevation effect on reproductive success of Western and Clark's grebes at two northern California lakes. In prep. 

Robison, K. M. 2012. A Multi-year Analysis of Brood-size and Phenology in Western and Clark’s Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis and A. clarkii) at Two Northern Californian Lakes. M. S. Thesis. 66pp. 

Robison, K. M., R. E. Weems, D. W. Anderson, and F. Gress. 2010. Western and Clark's Grebe Conservation and Management in California. Annual report to the Kure/Stuyvesant Trustee Councils and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in collaboration with California Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response for year 5, April 2010. 

Robison, K. M., R. E. Weems, D. W. Anderson, and F. Gress. 2010. Conservation of Aechmophorus grebes: migratory seasonal seabird restoration inland through lacustrine-wetland habitat assessment, habitat protection, and limitation of disturbances. Abstract and presentation for the special paper session: Seabird Habitat Restoration. Pacific Seabird Group annual conference, Long Beach, California, February 2010. 

Anderson, D. W., F. Gress, and K. M. Robison. 2009. Movements of California Brown Pelicans (Pelicanus occidentalis californicus) from the Northern Gulf of California, Mexico, and their connectivity to the Salton Sea, California: Studies with satellite telemetry. Unpublished report. California Institute of Environmental Studies, Davis, CA. 42pp. 

Weems, R. E., K. M. Robison, D. W. Anderson, L. A. Henkel, and A. Brickey. 2009. Western and Clark's Grebe Conservation and Management in California.  Annual Report to the American Trader Trustee Council and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in collaboration with California Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response for year 4, February 2009. 

Weems, R. E. and K. M. Robison. 2008. Western and Clark’s Grebes: Under PressureOutdoor California, a California Department of Fish and Game publication. September/October 2008. Vol. 69, No. 5. 

Robison, K. M., R. E. Weems, D. W. Anderson, and S. Hampton.  2008.  Western and Clark's Grebe conservation and management in California.  Annual Report to American Trader Trustee Council and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in collaboration with California Department of Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response for Year 3, July 2008.  

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Jessica Rozek

Major Professor: Dr. James Millam

Home department: Animal Science

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis 2010, B.S. Biology, Northeastern University - 2006.

Thesis Title: Welfare Implications of Preferences and Motivational Strengths of Amazon Parrots for Naturalistic Food Forms.

Current Position: Conservation & Research Officer, Jurong Bird Park, Wildlife Reserves Singapore Pte Ltd.

Research interests: My general interests include captive parrot welfare and research. Between 10-20 million birds live as companion animals in the United States, with 11% comprised of large parrots. Proper welfare and management of these animals is of growing concern as birds are notorious for developing behavioral problems in captivity. While there are many commercially available devices and therapies for companion birds, there is little scientific evidence supporting their implementation or interest to birds. Specifically, my research focuses on activity budgets, meal patterning, and preference and motivational testing in captive Orange-winged Amazon Parrots (Amazona amazonica). As far as we know, the activity budgets and meal patterning of captive parrots have yet to be described. By developing a nonbiased, automatic data collection system which records cage position 24hr/day via infrared beams, we were able to characterize these behaviors. Our results suggest activity budgets and foraging time of captive parrots fed a traditional pelleted diet are in stark to their wild counterparts. However, we discovered that with different pellet sizes that more closely resemble natural foods we are able to extend the foraging time of captive parrots five-fold. We are now testing the importance of these pellet sizes to the parrots through preference and motivational tests. In addition, we are also determining the effects of enrichment device use when presented with different pellet sizes. Understanding why birds interact with enrichment devices is important in order to provide a device that is truly enriching to the bird. 

Publications:

Rozek, J. C., Danner, L., Stucky, P., and Millam, J. R. Over-sized pellets naturalize activity budgets of Orange-winged Amazon Parrots (Amazona amazonica). Submitted.

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Rachel Smith

Major Professor: Dr. Thomas Hahn

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences -  UC Davis 2015, B.S. Biological Science and Neuroscience- University of Pittsburgh, 2011

Thesis Title:

Current position:

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Renee Weems

Major Professor: Dr. Daniel W. Andersen

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis in 2012, B.S. Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology UC Davis, 2008.

Thesis Title: Lake Elevation and Three Indices of Reproductive Success in Grebes at Two Northern California Lakes

Current Position: Data manager/Field technician

Research interests: My general interests include the conservation of wild birds and their habitat. My research focuses on quantifying the degree to which drought conditions affect productivity of western and Clark’s grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis and Aechmophorus clarkii, respectively) on their California breeding grounds. These two water-bird species are thought to be declining throughout their range. Currently, oil spills and oil pollution are identified as the main cause of mortality for these birds on their Pacific coast wintering grounds. While on their inland-lake breeding grounds, high levels of human disturbance have been identified as the main factor limiting productivity. Recently, observed drops in productivity at several important California breeding lakes have raised concerns over the effects of drought conditions on these two species. I am interested in examining the degree to which drought effects these colonial water-bird species, their productivity levels, and the nesting habitat on which they depend.

Publications:

Weems, R. E. and K. M. Robison. 2008. Western and Clark’s Grebes: Under Pressure. Outdoor California, a California Department of Fish and Game publication. September/October Issue. 69(5): 20-25.

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Matthew Wilson

Major Professor: Dr. John Eadie

Home department: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology

Degrees: M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis in 2012, B.S. Fisheries and Wildlife, Utah State University in 1999

Thesis Title: Overwinter Survival and Breeding Propensity of Pacific Surf Scoters from San Franciso Bay, California

Current Position: Biological Science Technician for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service- Endangered Species Branch

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