Santiago Claramunt, PhD

Associate Curator of Birds,  Royal Ontario Museum

Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

I love science and nature, theory and fieldwork. My favourite birds are the South American ovenbirds and woodcreepers (Furnariidae). I obtained my biological sciences degree at the Universidad de la República, in Uruguay, and my PhD in Biology at Louisiana State University, followed by a postdoctoral position at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I also worked at the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural of Uruguay.

Oliver Haddrath

Ornithology Technician, Royal Ontario Museum

I have been working for the museum for almost 30 years, looking after one of the ROM’s molecular labs using DNA from a wide variety of birds and other animals to help understand the diversity of life, as well as, the conservation of endangered species.  My undergraduate work was in molecular biology and my Masters focused on the large flightless birds, such as the ostrich, rheas, cassowaries, emu, kiwi and extinct moa; birds which are spread across the southern hemisphere.  Being able to sequence their DNAs became the vital piece in the puzzle to resolve the mystery of their origins and biogeography.

Talia Lowi-Merri

PhD. Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Talia is interested in the relationships between morphology, ecology, and function, especially in birds and their extinct relatives. She is an avid bird-watcher, science educator, and museum advocate. For her PhD, she is conducting a broad scales comparative analysis of the morphology of the sternum of extant and fossil birds.

Hellen Fu

MSc Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Hellen is interested in birds, both in the field and in museum cabinets. She is testing new ways to estimate the area of wings for using in the development of new morphological proxies for bird flight performance. She is also interested in applying these new methods to problems in ecology and conservation.

Martina Gjevori

BSc student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth Sciences, University of Toronto

I am a fourth-year student in EEB and Earth Sciences interested in the evolution of birds. For my thesis project, I will be reconstructing a phylogeny for the Charadriiformes using morphological and molecular data for extant and fossil specimens.

Irmak Erdem

BSc student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Art History, University of Toronto 

I’m currently in my third year studying EEB and Art History. I’m interested in the morphology and flight of birds and for my project, I am currently researching the relationship between flight capacity and extinction of birds in the Colombian Andes. 

Andrea Claramunt

Unspecified status

Talented and hard working, mostly doing illustrations and collecting natural history objects from parks and sidewalks. Still has a long way to go before graduating.

Former Members

Joseph W. Brown

Wendy & Leslie Rebanks Postdoctoral Fellow, Royal Ontario Museum

Joseph is interested in birds and the development of bioinformatic tools for the reconstruction of large-scale phylogenetic trees and the analysis of diversification. He is using his coding skills to assemble a massively large dataset of DNA sequences that will be the basis for creating a Big Bird Tree. Learn more about other projects and code in his GitHub repository.

Jonathan Chu

MSc, 2021,  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Jonathan is broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of birds, with a focus on the relationship between wing shape and dispersal in birds. In the past I have investigated a possible relationship between wing morphology and migratory flight ability.

Viviana Astudillo-Clavijo

PhD. Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Viviana is interested in macroevolutionary change and the underlying mechanisms involved in the production of tropical biodiversity. She is currently using museum collections to study the interplay between ecological adaptation and historical evolutionary change in cichlid fishes. Beyond research, she enjoys teaching, hiking and drawing/painting.

Milly Hong

BSc. Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Milly is interested in avian evolutionary ecology, particularly with migratory birds. Her honours thesis compared migratory flight morphology between eastern and western North American warblers using ROM specimens. With this work, she won the Best Poster Award (Corey A. Goldman Prize) in the category Evolution of Biodiversity and Morphology at the EEB Undergraduate Research Fair 2020. She is now pursuing a MSc degree at York University with a Fowle Scholarship in Ecology.

Alexandra Margaritescu

BSc. Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Alex did her Fourth Year Project at the Lab, using the ROM osteological collection to investigate the relationship between head size and shape song acoustic characteristics of passerine birds.

Caroline Biel

BSc. Student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Caroline joined the lab to develop a review paper on species concepts and species delimitation in birds for the course Research Studies in EEB. Check her website to learn more about her adventures and art.