About Me

irenephotoIn eighth grade, my classmates and I were interviewed by Fox News for a discussion on TV guidelines and parental controls. I remember arguing against censorship, because if we stopped nature programs from showing footage of animals fighting/eating/mating with each other, then they wouldn’t be educational anymore. Fox News didn’t air my response.

Now I’m a Duke biology grad student studying the evolution of animal mating systems. Each summer I travel to different sites in North America to collect data on breeding birds. My research asks (a) why individuals from monogamous species often cheat on each other, and (b) whether their behavior translates to changes on the molecular level. My seasonal data collection means I’m on the seven-year plan. This is Year Seven. (Update: I graduated!!)

I’m lucky to be in a department with great resources, close colleagues and an advisor who’s given me free rein on my project. Outside the lab, I’m active in Duke Women in Science and Engineering and watch a lot of basketball. Off campus, you’ll find me biking to live shows downtown. I don’t know where work or life will take me, but I hope to keep traveling, surrounding myself with whip-smart people, and teaching science.

I write this blog for a broad audience: friends and family keeping track of my whereabouts; academic colleagues who are veterans in the field and lab; and anyone interested in snapshots of grad life. The blog goes mostly quiet after the field season, especially now that I have a dissertation to write. But I always fire it up whenever I see something I’d like to share. As George Clooney said in “Up in the Air,” life’s better with company.


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