Ph.D. University of Maryland, 2010
B.S. The College of William and Mary, 2003
I am broadly interested in evolution and behavioral ecology, with a major focus on sexual selection. For my doctoral dissertation, I studied satin bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in Australia. Males of this species have one of the most behaviorally complex sexual displays in the animal world, constructing arenas out of sticks that are completed with feathers, flowers, snail shells and other natural objects as decorations. They dance, vocally mimic other species of birds, and watch closely female behavior to ensure they are not too aggressive for her tastes while showing off their physical vigor. I found that males who performed better on a number of cognitive tasks including solving novel problems were sexually preferred by females (basically smart is sexy!) and males may indicate their cognitive ability through their complex displays (single traits do not indicate cognitive ability well).
I am now a postdoctoral associate studying sexual selection in three-spine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus spp ) a system that is exciting because there have been multiple parallel episodes of speciation in a short period of time. I hope to study a whole host of interesting new questions with this species complex, but also to continue investigating the relationship between cognition and sexual selection. This system is especially exciting because it should allow me an opportunity to explore cognition in both males and females.
Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, 2010
B.S. Georgia Institute of Technology, 2000
In the stickleback system, I am exploring the role of sexual selection and female choice behaviors in the process of speciation. By looking at key behavioral traits, the signals that may influence them, and their genetic underpinnings, we hope to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms and process of divergence and speciation.
My research interests generally aim to better understand the roles of natural and sexual selection in driving divergent traits, especially signals, among species. I am especially interested in the role of behavioral interactions that can be influenced by signaling traits in organisms; they may vary according to the observers in the "interaction environment" of an organism as well as its ecological environment. I seek to uncover the role of these interactions as a means of generating or maintaining trait diversity and as a selective force shaping mechanisms of speciation and adaptation.
I have also studied the evolution of cooperative behaviors and signals in interspecific mutualisms. In a marine goby system, interactions between small territorial fishes and large predatory species have shifted over evolutionary time, from an antagonistic one to one in which the territorial species eat ectoparasites from a wide range of visiting species (a mutualism). My research suggests that aposematic color signals played a role in this shift, and that over time, "cleaners" have evolved to be more conspicuous to risky "clients".
Ph.D. University of California-Riverside, 2008
B.S. University of Portland, 2002
I am broadly interested in behavioral ecology and evolution on ecological timescales, particularly the role of social interactions and communication in evolutionary change. My graduate work integrated animal behavior and molecular biology to understand the causes and consequences of sexual signal variation. I studied a paradoxical example of sexual signal evolution - the rapid evolutionary loss of singing ability in Hawaiian populations of the field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. My work revealed that a single gene mutation eliminated males’ ability to signal to attract females, but spread to >90% of the population because of strong opposing natural selection (a parasitoid fly attracted to the song male crickets make), the non-adaptive process of island colonization, and flexible behavior on the part of both males and females.
At MSU, I am investigating evolutionary change in sexual signaling systems both empirically and via adaptive dynamics modeling (with collaborators). We are again highlighting the loss of mating signals, and hypothesize that the dynamics of trait loss and elaboration contribute to the vast variation in sexual signaling systems. We've initiated research using a limnetic-benthic threespine stickleback species pair that collapsed rapidly (< 20 generations) into a hybrid swarm following the introduction of a non-native crayfish. Hybrid sticklebacks are marked by a loss distinct male mating characteristics (e.g. nuptial coloration). But, why and how are sexual signals lost? Why do females accept males who lack preferred sexual signals? I hypothesize that female preferences and choosiness are frequently plastic in response to experiences with mate availability and aging or seasonality. I am also continuing to pursue similar questions in cricket systems.
B.S. University of New Hampshire, 2010
In Fall 2012, I started pursuing a dual PhD in Zoology and Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior. I am broadly interested in animal behavior the context of sexual selection and speciation. More specifically, I am interested in reproductive behavior, including mate choice, parental care behavior, and parent-offspring conflict. In particular, I am currently focusing my attention towards research involving parental care in threespine sticklebacks, including investigating under what conditions care is important, when parents may be released from care, and how sexual selection may have influenced the evolution and persistence of care behavior by male sticklebacks.
B.S. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006
I have interests in evolution, behavior, and speciation. I started my Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006 with Dr. Jenny Boughman. In the fall of 2009, I moved with my research advisor to Michigan State University to continue my degree. I seek to understand how reproductive isolation evolves and how it maintains distinct species, especially in the face of environmental change and hybridization. I am currently exploring the precursors and consequences of hybridization between two species of threespine sticklebacks. I am measuring the strength of isolation remaining at multiple reproductive barriers and examining the role of ecology in the breakdown of these barriers. When barriers breakdown, which are the first to be lost? How does ecology mediate the loss or maintenance of these barriers? I am also comparing this case study of isolation loss to other stickleback species pairs that maintain reproductive isolation. My research examines how the speciation process works by studying the process as it progresses and breaks down.
B.S.University of California-Riverside, 2011
I entered MSU in 2012, pursuing a PhD in Zoology. My scientific interests fall broadly under the heading of sensory ecology, exploring how animals gather information on the world around them, and why their abilities to do so are so different from our own. I am currently interested in study multimodal behaviors in the mating repertoire of sticklebacks: How do different senses modify information obtained from other modalities? How important are these interactions in making decisions, and how plastic are they? How strongly does environmental variation shape such behaviors? Is there a real evolutionary advantage to multimodal processing? Does multimodal behavior in sticklebacks mean anything to multimodal functioning in humans? These are the questions...
B.S. Georgia Institute of Technology, 2010
I started graduate school at MSU in Fall of 2010 to pursue joint PhDs in Zoology and Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral Biology. I study stickleback communication and sexual selection. In particular, I am interested in how females make mating decisions, and what impact those decisions have on sticklebacks as a model of evolution and speciation. I seek to understand what factors and modes of communication allow for decision-making, and what results when normally-available factors, such as visual cues, are lost. How do females weight certain male factors (size, coloration, parental ability, etc.)? How robust are these mate decisions under different cue availability? How general are they across individuals and populations? Are these factors genetically or behaviorally-determined, or a mix? I hope to unravel some of these mysteries.
B.S. Michigan State University, 2010
I'm a Preveterinary student who is also studying mathematics and Spanish. I love to fish, run, and play guitar. I am a very laid back person, and I can't wait to meet everyone in the lab.
I am currently majoring in Environmental Biology/Zoology. I'm an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Boughman's stickleback lab, helping to feed and maintain the fish, among other duties. I'm hoping to gain some valuable laboratory experience and better understand the ins and outs of a research lab. In my free time I like to read, draw, run, and just relax.
I am Alex Fox. An undergraduate at MSU studying zoology. I'm working on behavioral research with Alycia Lackey, looking at how habitat affects mate choice and how this in turn can have an effect on speciation. I really enjoy the work we do in the lab and am really excited to see what unfolds from everyone's projects.
I am assisting with social behavior research that can later be applied to the development of fish robotics. I began my freshman year at MSU in Fall 2010, and am working towards a degree in Zoology. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, biking, and watching Parks and Recreation religiously.
I am a zoology major with concentrations in marine biology, animal behavior/neurobiology, ecology/evolution/organismal biology, and general zoology. Clearly, I have quite a few interests, but marine biology was my first love. I started working in the Boughman lab as a junior in the fall of 2010. I continue to search for a way to combine all of my interests into a career, using the stickleback research as inspiration. After graduating, I plan on attending graduate school somewhere on the coast. Outside the lab, I am an active member of both the MSU Fisheries and Wildlife Club and the Outdoors Club, and I enjoy volleyball, scuba diving (when I can afford it), being a vegetarian, volunteering at animal shelters, and cracking jokes every chance I get.
I'm Kelsey, a Lyman Briggs Zoology Major with a concentration in Zoo and Aquarium Science. In the future I hope to attend veterinary medical school. I have a passion for exotic animals and have participated in two study abroad programs to Africa.
I am a Zoology graduate with a concentration in Animal Behavior and Neurobiology and a minor in Mathematics. In the future I'd like to explore research in Mathematical Biology and hopefully apply it to the conservation of extant species.
I'm a senior zoology major with concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. I love to run and want to attend veterinary school to be a zoo veterinarian.
Hello! I am an Undergraduate student in Geology whose interests cover fossils, fish, genetics, and evolution. My main goal within the lab is to learn more about sexual selection and help with husbandry, training, data collection, and data crunching.
I am majoring in Zoology with a concentration in Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. I am planning on attending graduate school in the future. Expanding my knowledge, preforming research and having fun are my interests.
I'm undergraduate student at Michigan State University where I'm studying Environmental Biology/Zoology and Economics. In spring 2009, I worked on the behavioral ecology of Red Squirrels. I've been with the Boughman lab since Fall 2010. I'm currently working closely with Jason Keagy and Liliana Lettieri investigating sexual selection and female choice. I'm also interested in phenotypic plasticity, sexual dimorphism, and imprinting.
I'm double majoring in Human Biology and Psychology with a specialization in Bioethics Humanity and Society. Before I was introduced to medicine I had a great interest in marine biology. Although I love the sciences, dancing is also an important part of my life.
I am a sophomore in Lyman Briggs majoring in Zoology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and ultimately I want to go to vet school. I am very fascinated by animal behavior and the motivation behind their actions. I am excited to be a Research Assistant and to study the role that communication plays in mating and mate choice.
I'm a zoology major in the Honors College with a concentration in ecology, evolutionary biology, and behavior. My future plans are to study the behavior and sexual selection of birds around the world, specifically, the vogelkop or satin bowerbirds of Australia. In my spare time I enjoy skateboarding, listening to jazz and watching nature documentaries... or all three at once.
Ph.D. University of New South Wales, 2005
B.S. Australian National University, 2001
Ph.D. Indiana University, 2008
B.A. Grinnell College, 2001
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, 2010
NSF Predoctoral Fellow 2005-2008
University Fellow 2004-2005
B.S. Cornell University, 2004
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, 2011
M.S. University of Wisconsin, 2006
B.S. Washington University 2003
NSF Pre doctoral Fellow 2004-2007
M.S. University of Wisconsin- Madison, 2007
B.A. The College of Wooster, 2004