Research in immunogenetics, molecular genetics, functional genomics, and bioinformatics in poultry. My group is focused on elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of host-pathogen interaction including disease resistance, immune response, and pathogenesis of infection. The overall goals are to understand genetic regulation of host response and basic mechanisms of pathogen virulence in animals, to identify host and pathogen genes that are involved in the host-pathogen interplay. The pathogens of interest are food-borne bacteria such as Newcastle disease virus, avian influenza virus, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Another area of my research is to functionally annotate regulatory elements of livestock species by integrating RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, and DNase-seq across different tissues.
Our laboratory is concentrating on developing assisted reproductive techniques for psittacines. The model species is the budgerigar. Our laboratory is also working various studies (hematology and pharmacology) which are directly applicable to companion avian medicine.
Research interests are focused in three major areas: 1) Using "traditional" epidemiological techniques and GIS and spatial statistics to understand how avian diseases move in time and space. 2) Using Next Generation Sequencing technology to gain insights into the virulence and survivability of pathogens including Salmonella and Campylobacter. 3) Gaining a better understanding of 'micro'-commercial (i.e. small scale poultry production) with respect to environmental sustainability, poultry health, and food safety.
Co-Director of UC Davis Parrot Wellness and Welfare program with Dr. Michelle Hawkins (see above). Our program focuses on select studies benefiting the parrot population with an emphasis on pain management, nutrition, reproduction and behavior.
Sensory ecology; foraging and navigation using biogeochemical regulators of climate change, bird olfaction, phenotypic plasticity and conservation.
Research by students in my laboratory is directed towards understanding: 1) how an immune response to a disease challenge influences nutrient needs, growth, reproduction and well-being of birds; 2) the impact of nutrition on immunity and disease resistance; 3) the metabolic adaptations required by carnivorous and nectivorous birds; 4) the role of the immune system in pathology resulting from environmental pollutants.
Students in my lab focus on ways to prevent lipid oxidation in poultry muscle; use of nutritious horticultural byproducts and other additives as ingredients in poultry feed, prevention of lipid oxidation in meat, and deposition of nutrients in eggs as well as environmental stresses that affect lipid oxidation of poultry meat.
My research interests include conservation genetics, avian ecology and migration, and the conservation of rare and endangered species. Using a combination of field research and molecular genetic techniques I have studied numerous species of raptors (red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, Swainson’s hawks, Galápagos hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, great gray owls, merlins) primarily at study sites across North America in collaboration with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (http://www.ggro.org). In collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/sacramento) I am also studying several species of conservation concern including California clapper rails, vernal pool fairy shrimp, callippe silverspot butterflies, Shasta crayfish, and great gray owls. Current research projects include a population genetic analysis of North American subspecies of merlin, demographic monitoring of great gray owls using passive genetic techniques, and acoustic monitoring of California clapper rails.
The focus of our laboratory is on anesthesia, analgesia, and critical patient care for avian species. Current areas of research include (1) determining the number and distribution of opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord of various species of birds to help focus studies of analgesic drugs and (2) evaluating the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of analgesic drugs in birds for use in the treatment of avian pain. Our laboratory also conducts other studies that apply directly to avian medicine, such as the assessment of clinicopathologic changes in birds associated with specific diseases.
Interfaces of behavior, endocrine and neuroendocrine physiology, ecology, and evolution. Specifically environmental regulation of avian annual schedules of reproduction, plumage molt and migration; scheduling tradeoffs between current reproduction and survival (future reproduction); evolution of mechanisms of responses to environmental cues such as day length, food, social factors; effects of unpredictable environmental events on behavior and physiology of free-living birds. Avian communication, especially use of heterospecific mimicry in song, and learned non-song vocalizations.