These are the people in our neighborhood

Eli Bridge
Associate Professor

Here’s an obligatory picture of me and some kind of sparrow.

Graduate Students
Heather LePage


Heather will start on a master’s degree in the Fall of 2016. Her background entails considerable work tracking birds in the US and in South America and analyzing geolocator data. Her graduate research focuses on testing the effects of lead and other heavy metal contaminants on avian cognition in the field. Using novel, RFID-based “smart feeders” designed and built here in the Bridge Lab, Heather will examine the cognitive abilities of wild birds at the Tar Creek Superfund Site in Picher, OK.

Heather is a recent graduate of the Earth Observation Science for Society and Sustainability (EOS3) certificate program at OU. Starting in August 2017, she will begin a 9-month NSF Fellowship in the National Research Traineeship (NRT) program .

Kate Goodenough

8758470Kate is an experienced shorebird biologist who has worked for several years as an independent environmental consultant. For her Ph.D. research Kate is investigating the unusual inland wanderings of Black Skimmers in South America.

Kate is a world traveler, lover of cats, and an excellent photographer. Check out her webpage here.


William Oakley


William is a recent graduate of the Earth Observation Science for Society and Sustainability (EOS3) certificate program at OU. Starting August 2017, William will begin his 9-month NSF Fellowship in the National  Research Traineeship (NRT) program . Check out his webpage here.



Sabrina Waugh

Note: that is not a Purple Martin.

Sabrina is doing her Honors Thesis in the Bridge lab with a study of the immune systems of Purple Martins. She is using a bacterial killing assay, white blood cell counts, and parasite load quantification in a comparison of Purple Martins at high density and low density colonies. Sabrina hopes to be a veteranarian working on zoonotic diseases.

Gabriel Melado

GabrielGabriel is visiting the lab for the summer of 2016 as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility program. He is picking up some experience handling birds and learning some coding and analysis skills. For fun, he enjoys making us Americans feel really bad about our soccer skills.


Andrea Contina

Andrea’s interests revolve around molecular ecology, genomics, and conservation biology. He got his Masters at the University of Exeter (UK) and his Ph.D. here at the University of Oklahoma with Jeff Kelly. His research probed several avenues of inquiry associated with Painted Buntings and regional variations in their migration behavior. As part of this work, he deployed geolocators on Painted Buntings in Oklahoma to reveal their migration path and developed extensive songbird migration research through the use of stable isotopes, microsatellite DNA, and SNPs. Andrea is currently a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Oklahoma (OU) – Oklahoma Biological Survey and he is involved with the National Science Foundation – National Research Traineeship (NRT) program at OU. If you want to know more about Andrea’s research feel free to visit his website:

Claire Curry


Claire’s research interests range from evolutionary, behavioral, and quantitative ecology to natural history.  She got her Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma working with Michael Patten on hybridization between Tufted and Black-crested Titmice, examining signaling in males and females and genetic outcomes of hybridization over different
time scales.  She continued to work on behavior and signalling as a post-doctoral fellow and then research associate with Nicola Koper at the University of Manitoba’s Natural Resources Institute, where her work has focused on the effects of oil and gas infrastructure noise on grassland songbird behavior (particularly Savannah Sparrow and Baird’s Sparrow).  Claire plans to join us in September of 2016.

Her website is .


Jackson Helms
HelmsJackson Graduated with a Ph.D. in the spring of 2016.

Jackson’s research focuses on ants, but unlike many ant biologists Jackson has turned his lens upward to address questions relating to the winged queens and drones that are responsible for reproduction and dispersal in most ant species. His work proposes a new hypothesis (the Found or Fly Hypothesis) to explain how ant queens negotiate tradeoffs associated with dispersal ability and their capacity to initiate a new colony. Jackson’s endeavors in support of this hypothesis have ranged from basic natural history discoveries (how long can ant’s fly?) to spatially explicit models of alternative dispersal strategies. His work touches on the fundamentals of life-history theory as well as the emerging field of aeroecology. 

Before he became a scientist Jackson was a marine and fought in the Iraq War. Jackson’s blog “Marine to Myrmecologist” tells the story of his adventurous career path.

Jeremy Ross

RossJeremy was a post doc in the lab from May 2013 to March 2015. He is currently Director of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center near Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Jeremy is an enthusiastic birder, traveler, foodie, and hockey fan. He was raised a farm boy in Manitoba before getting a Ph.D. from Bowling Green University in Ohio. Jeremy’s focus is on avian conservation, and he uses a wide variety of tools including tracking technology, stable isotopes, and agent-based modeling to help sustain regional bird populations.

Jeremy’s website.


Jeff Kelly – University of Oklahoma

CIMG4799Jeff is Director of the Oklahoma Biological Survey and is the academic father of the Bridge Lab–that is, he was my post-doc advisor. We collaborate with Jeff in some way on just about everything. Jeff is one of the founders of Aeroecology as an academic discipline and leads an NSF funded National Research Traineeship at OU that uses Aeroecology as a proving ground for training interdisciplinary scientists. Jeff studies bird migration and is currently focusing on ways to combine a variety of data sources (e.g. weather radar, eBird, and satellite remote sensing) to observe and explain continental scale migration phenomena.

Jeff’s website.

Rosemary Knapp – University of Oklahoma


Rosemary teaches Principles of Physiology every other semester, and we collaborate on generating new course material (including the online coursebook) and generally making the course better each year. In 2015 we offered Principles of Physiology as a Presidential Dream Course and brought in guest speakers from the US and the UK as well as OU to interact with the class.

Vladimir Pravosudov – University of Nevada, Reno

vladimir-pravosudov1Vladimir is leading an investigation into the cognitive abilities of food caching birds (i.e., Mountain Chickadees) in environments that differ in terms of harshness. He is testing the basic idea that harsher environments will select for individuals with better long term memories that allow them to recover more cached food. His current project makes extensive use of RFID enabled bird feeders, which is where we come in.

John Eadie – University of California, Davis


John is using RFID technology to monitor brood parasitism (i.e., females laying eggs in nests of other females) among Wood Ducks in northern California. By tagging individuals with RFID transponders and putting readers on nest boxes, John is tracking individual brood parasitism activity and looking at relatedness among the egg dumpers and the recipients. Maybe the burden of raising someone else’s ducklings is tempered by the fact that the other female is a relative.

Ellen Ketterson – Indiana University

We wkettersonFieldork with Ellen and her Post-docs Adam Fudickar and Jonathan Atwell on migratory genomics. We have carried out RNAseq analyses to look at gene expression in tissues from both migratory and non-migratory Dark-eyed Juncos that winter in the same location. We found differential expression in hundreds of genes in both blood and muscle (details here).