Grad Students

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Current Students in Bird Behavior and Cognition

Elizabeth Spinney: main advisor, project “Serial reversal learning in Zebra Finches” (September 2011- 2013; official graduation 2014).

Elsa Yeung: main advisor, project “Visual perspective taking in Zebra Finches, a Bird-model Organisms” (September 2009- 2012; official graduation 2013).

Elizabeth Spinney Bird CognitionElizabeth Spinney, B.S. Biology, Florida Institute of Technology.  Elizabeth is studying animal behavior as a master’s student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. While an undergraduate, she participated in an independent research project on infrared vision in pitvipers using copperheads in behavioral experiments. For the past few years Elizabeth has been working in the field on various projects, including:  nest searching for a long term study of Florida Scrub Jays, point- counts of marsh birds for Iowa State University, the  Arbo-virus Program with the Department of Public Health in Boston, and a clutch size study on Red-faced Warblers with the University of  Arizona. Elizabeth enjoys playing tennis and hiking.


Elsa Yeung Bird CognitionElsa Yeung, Master of Science UMassD, (2009-2012); B.S. Biology, The University of Texas at Austin. Elsa is currently a master’s student at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, and is interested in animal behavior and evolutionary biology.  During her undergraduate education at UTA, she helped in several labs and projects dealing with topics such as the effects of genetic diversity on adaptation.  She also carried out an independent project examining butterfly foraging behavior, earning her an Undergraduate Research Fellowship and departmental honors.  Outside of school, Elsa enjoys playing the piano and traveling, and has been to many places including Hong Kong, Peru, and Australia.

Papers in preparation: Yeung E & Paz-y-Mino-C G. Visual perspective taking and behavior reading in Zebra Finches.

Clodius F, Bonoan R, Dawson A, Caetano S, Yeung E, Paz-y-Mino-C G. Dominance hierarchy formation in a model organism, the Zebra Finch, and its implications for laboratory research.

Past Students:

Katherine Spendel: main advisor, project “Transitive reasoning in Zebra Finches” (September 2009- 2010). Student emigrated to another lab.

Thesis committee member of:

William Cioffi: thesis committee, project “Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) associations on a feeding ground in the Western Bulf of Maine” (September 2011-2014). Main advisor Dr. Richard Connor

Emma Welch: thesis committee, project “Synchronous behavior in Killer Whales” (September 2010-2012). Main advisor Dr. Richard Connor

Diana Barrett MS 2012: thesis committee, project “Germination of sand-dune plants” (September 2010-December 2011). Main advisor Dr. Tara Rajaniemi

Teresa Gisburne MS 2011: thesis committee, project “Optimal group size in strand-feeding bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Bull Creek, South Carolina” (April 2008-2011). Main advisor Dr. Richard Connor

Laura McCue MS 2009: thesis committee, project “Superalliance and synchronization of male dolphin behavior” (May 2008-2009). Main advisor Dr. Richard Connor

Anna Chase: literature review, project “Comparative social cognition in vertebrates: bird, primate and cetacean models (January-April 2008).” Student status: pending. Main advisor Dr. Richard Connor