The ability to detect, process, and react to cues in the environment underlies nearly every aspect of an animal’s life, from finding mates and food to avoiding predators. My research addresses how organisms recognize stimuli to make decisions and how the process of recognition evolves, diverges, and interacts with ecological context.

See below for descriptions of ongoing projects:


Evolution of mate recognition

  • How does the community of heterospecifics shape the range of calls that females recognize as potential mates? (PDF)
  • Why do some signals evolve...and not others? (PDF)
  • How does variation in different components of signals affect the probability of female response? (in review)
  • How does the shape of female preference functions interact with geographic variation in male signals? (in review)
  • How does temperature affect mate recognition in communities of ectotherms? (in prep)

Sensory Integration

  • How does ecology interact with sexual selection in preference expression and divergence? (PDFPDF)
  • How do different sensory modalities integrate to mediate preference? (PDF)
  • Collaborators Gerlinde Höbel and Michael Reichert


Signal Detection

  • How do organisms detect signals in noisy world? (PDF, in prep)
  • What differs between closely related species to cause them to respond to different sounds? (in prep)
  • What can artificial neural networks reveal about biological signal process
  • Website for collaborator Hannah ter Hofstede




Uncanny Valley and Detection of Animacy

  • What mechanisms characterize recognition processes across taxa?
  • How do neural systems scale-up and combine to produce recognition of animate/inanimate objects in humans?
  • Website for collaborator Thalia Wheatley

Additional collaborations and projects

I have been fortunate to participate in two stimulating and fun working groups through the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent):

An integrative evolutionary approach to examine sexual selection as a mechanism of speciation

Toward a unified evolutionary theory of decision-making in animals

Sound transmission and attenuation in forests (in collaboration with Vivek Venkataraman)

Emu vocalization and hearing sensitivity (with Nate Dominy)