Matt Carling – PI

Beth Wommack – UWYMV Collections Manager
Beth isn’t a member of the Carling lab per se, but she is basically the glue that holds the U Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates together. Beth received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2014, where she worked with Rauri Bowie.

Current Graduate  Students

Eric Atkinson – PhD in Z&P, August 2015 – present

Eric is interested in myriad questions focus on patterns and impacts of disease prevalence in wild birds.

Paul Dougherty – PhD in PiE, August 2017 – present

Paul joined the lab in August 2017 after completing a double major in Biology and Classics at Colby College. Paul is very interested in trying to better understand the mechanisms that result in the reduced fitness seen in hybrid individuals when compared with pure parentals. For his dissertation, Paul is exploring how differences in the timing of the molt-migration schedule between Indigo and Lazuli Buntings manifest in hybrids and how that may contribute to the maintenance of reproductive isolation between these species.

Audrey Martin – MS in Z&P, August 2016 – present

Among other goals, Audrey is working on understanding patterns of inbreeding and historical demography in Orange-breasted Falcons compared to patterns in the closely related Bat Falcon.

Libby Megna – PhD in PiE,  August 2013 – present

Libby joined the lab in August 2013. Libby has a MS from Andrews University where she worked on various aspects of hybridization in gulls. Apparently, working with gulls involves getting pooped on a lot. For her PhD, Libby is interested in trying to understand why some species of closely related passerine species hybridize and others, despite having the opportunity to do so, do not. This work involves a large scale comparative dataset that Libby is using to investigate which traits contribute to the evolution of reproductive isolation.

Nick Minor – MS in Z&P, August 2019 – present

Nick came on board in the fall of 2019 after completing a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at University of Minnesota. There, he worked on bird phylogenetics in Keith Barker’s lab. Now, Nick’s work focuses on 1) how Indigo and Lazuli Bunting populations have grown and shrank since their speciation, 2) whether these changes reflect concurrent environmental change, and 3) what situations may make it difficult to estimate population sizes. Aside from research, Nick is heavily invested in science communication and has written articles for outlets like Birding Magazine and Audubon.

Former lab members

Shawn Billerman – PhD in PiE, January 2011 – December 2016

Shawn did his undergraduate work at Cornell University where he worked on a variety of projects including investigating a transcontinental colonization in Barn Swallows. For his PhD, Shawn worked on questions related to introgression and gene flow across avian hybrid zones. This work focused on the hybrid zone between Red-naped and Red-breasted Sapsuckers in northern California and southern Oregon. As part of his dissertation, Shawn mapped the movement of the hybrid zone over the past ~110 year. Shawn also explored whether patterns of male aggression might be contributing to the observed temporal shift in the structure of the zone. After completing his PhD, Shawn was an NSF funded postdoc at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and he’s now the Science Editor of the Birds of the World Project at the Lab of O.

Doug Eddy – MS in Z&P

Doug completed his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois where he conducted research in Zac Cheviron’s lab, a Carling lab collaborator. We’re excited to be able to rescue Doug from the flatlands of Illinois. Doug continues to work closely with the Cheviron lab for his work investigating trade-offs between immune function and metabolism in Dark-eyed Juncos. Much of Doug’s work is based out of the University of Wyoming – National Park Research Station in Grand Teton National Park. It’s tough to have to work from a research station located on the shore of Jackson Lake in one of the world’s most beautiful national parks!

Jacob Saucier – MS in Z&P, January 2011 – December 2013
Jacob’s undergraduate degree is from Louisiana State University. As an undergraduate, he participated in numerous expeditions to South America where he honed his tropical field work skills. For his MS, Jacob investigated patterns of genetic and morphological variation across the Plain Wren species complex. Jacob is now a Collections Manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where he travels the world in the name of science.

Matt Jones – MS in Z&P, August 2011 – July 2013
Matt received his BS from the University of New Mexico, where he worked with Dr. Chris Witt investigating the evolution of trachea size in Sandhill Cranes. For his MS, Matt worked on the role of parasite driven adaptation in the evolution of reproductive isolation in Rufous-collared Sparrows. Matt is now a doctor, having recently defended his PhD at the University of Montana where he worked with Jeff Good.

James Maley – Collections Manager, University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates
Dr. Maley was the Collections Manager for the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates from December 2011 to September 2013. He is currently the Collections Manager at the Moore Lab of Zoology at Occidental College.

Interested in joining the lab?

I am happy to accept both MS and PhD students and I am always interested in hearing from bright, motivated students that may want to join the lab. Given that I primarily work on topics related to speciation and adaptation in birds, I expect students working with me to incorporate questions related to these broad themes into their research. Beyond that, I expect students to develop their own thesis or dissertation projects. That said, all students working with me must contribute to the collections of the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates, either through focused collecting efforts for their own projects or through general collecting efforts the museum sponsors.

Generally speaking, students with extensive relevant previous research experience will have an advantage, particularly among those students interested in pursuing a PhD in my lab.

Students interested in my lab can be admitted through either the Department of Zoology and Physiology (MS and PhD students) or through the interdepartmental Program in Ecology (PhD).

The University of Wyoming has particularly strong (and growing) programs in Ornithology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. You may also be interested in the following faculty that work on either birds or speciation and adaptation:

Craig Benkman – Evolutionary ecology, particularly in Loxia crossbills
Alex Buerkle – Genetics of speciation and adaptation in many systems
Anna Chalfoun – Wildlife-habitat relationships, especially of songbirds in sagebrush systems
Carlos Martinez del Rio – Physiological ecology
Dave McDonald – Behavioral and molecular ecology, especially in lek-mating birds
Melanie Murphy – Landscape genetics, including work on sage grouse
Jon Prather – neural mechanisms of bird song
Corey Tarwater – ecology and demography of tropical bird species
Katie Wagner – speciation and diversification in a variety of systems

Laramie is a great small college town, located on a high plain (~7200ft above sea level) between the Snowy Range (~30mi west) and the Laramie Range (~7mi east). Not surprisingly, outdoor recreation activities are plentiful. Given the relatively low cost of living in Laramie, graduate stipends are quite good.

Laramie sunrise

[University of Wyoming]   [Department of Zoology & Physiology]   [UW Museum of Vertebrates]
[UW Biodiversity Institute]   [Program in Ecology]