Student Affairs Committee

Amelia-Juliette Demery | Chair

PhD student, Cornell University (U.S.A.)

Amelia is a second-year PhD student at Cornell University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Irby Lovette’s lab. Her current research explores the genetic mechanisms underpinning phenoytpic variation across space and time, focusing on continuous bill color variation across the Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda) and seasonal bill color plasticity in the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Prior to this, Amelia received her M.S. at San Diego State University under the tutelage of Kevin J. Burns; there she studied macroevolutionary patterns of bill morphology in tanagers (Thraupidae). As chair of the NAOC’s Student Affairs Committee, Amelia says, “Welcome and enjoy all the bird people!” She/her/hers.

Dustin E. Brewer

PhD student, Central Michigan University

Dustin has been taking part in avian conservation efforts since 2011. Focusing on field ecology, he completed a Masters degree in 2016, then worked as a field biologist focusing on conservation translocation in 2017. Before beginning a PhD position focusing on marsh bird conservation, he was a research associate at Indiana University, where he studied urban ecology with a focus on birdsong. 

Lee Bryant

Shrike Monitoring Crew, Institute for Wildlife Studies (U.S.A.)

Lee is an avian biologist and environmental educator with a Master’s degree in Biology from Arkansas State University. She has traveled the country studying birds and teaching science, and more recently served an AmeriCorps VISTA service term with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program furthering their climate change education curriculum and public outreach. Her current research interests include species-habitat interactions and avian conservation.

Andrew Dreelin

After falling in love with birds in high school, Andrew completed his undergraduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University in 2017. He is most passionate about bird conservation and environmental education, especially though citizen science. Since graduating, he has worked for New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, NOAA, and most recently, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as eBird Project Assistant. He plans to pursue a PhD in conservation biology beginning fall 2020, with a focus on avian community ecology and restoration.

Jenn Houtz

PhD student, Cornell University (U.S.A.)

Jenn is a PhD student at Cornell University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Dr. Maren Vitousek’s lab. Her current work focuses on the avian microbiota-gut-brain axis, or the interactions among gut microbiota and the host neuroendocrine system. Her research is currently addressing the mechanistic links between the gut microbiome and stress-related changes in physiology, behavior, and development in Tree Swallows. Prior to Cornell, Jenn received her B.S. in Animal Behavior at Millersville University, where she worked as an assistant on a project studying Wire-tailed Manakins in Ecuador. Jenn serves as the chair of the American Ornithological Society SAC’s workshop subcommittee. She/her/hers.

Colleen R. Miller

PhD student, Cornell University (U.S.A.)

Colleen is on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Student Mentor Lunch Committee for NAOC 2020. Colleen is a PhD student studying the impact of artificial light at night on the behavior and physiology of Black-capped Chickadees with Dr. Maren Vitousek. Prior to this position, she received her master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying the impacts of climate and urbanization on Northern Cardinal bill morphology with Dr. Benjamin Zuckerberg. Colleen is more broadly interested in how anthropogenic impacts, specifically urban systems, affect bird populations, and how those relationships play out over time and space. She hopes to better understand how we affect our surrounding world to enable us to manage and mitigate our impacts on natural systems.

Pablo Munoz

Master’s student, University of Costa Rica

Pablo is tropical biologist from Costa Rica. He earned his bachelor’s in tropical biology from the National University of Costa Rica in 2017, and now is enrolled in the master in biology program from the University of Costa Rica (UCR). At UCR, he is exploring some of the processes that may be underlying the formation and cohesion of mixed-species bird-flocks from Costa Rican highlands. Especially their social roles, interactions, the plumage coloration among flocking species and the effect of habitat over the flocks.

Shailee Shah

PhD student, Columbia University (U.S.A.)

Shailee is a PhD candidate in Dr. Dustin Rubenstein’s lab at Columbia University, studying cooperative breeding and dispersal in superb starlings. She attended her first AOS meeting as a fresh graduate from Cornell University in 2014 and has since looked forward to this meeting of fun-loving, bird-obsessed, innovative scientists every year. Shailee serves on the AOS Student Affairs Committee as chair of the Student-Mentor Lunch sub-committee and is also a member of the AOS Diversity & Inclusion committee.

Aaron Skinner


Master’s student, The Ohio State University (U.S.A.)

Aaron is currently in his second year of his master’s degree at The Ohio State University under Dr. Chris Tonra’s supervision. His research focuses on filling knowledge gaps in the full annual cycle of the Eastern whip-poor-will, a nocturnal aerial insectivore in enigmatic decline. Between his undergraduate degree and his master’s he spent three years mixing business and pleasure as he traveled extensively and worked as a field technician all over the world, including for six weeks in Puerto Rico! He is looking forward to returning to the island to attend the conference and also to help with the student-professional mixer. 

Oona Takano

PhD Student, University of New Mexico (U.S.A.)

Oona uses fossils to study evolution and community dynamics of raptors from the Pleistocene to today. She graduated with her Master’s from Texas A&M University and bachelor’s from the University of Florida. Oona is currently a PhD student in Chris Witt’s lab at the University of New Mexico.

Liam Taylor

PhD student, Yale University (U.S.A.)

Liam Taylor is a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. Liam’s graduate research investigates the intersection of life history evolution and social behaviors in birds with delayed plumage maturation. While his current work is focused on the colorful and dramatic manakins of Central and South America, Liam’s past fieldwork includes time with Semipalmated Plovers in the subarctic of Churchill, Manitoba, and with Leach’s Storm-Petrels at the foggy Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy. When not birding, Liam can be found accumulating (and completely failing to master) rustic-seeming hobbies such as sourdough bread-making.

Emily Webb

PhD student, Arizona State University (U.S.A.)

Emily is a biology PhD candidate at Arizona State University in Kevin McGraw’s lab currently studying carotenoid physiology in birds. Her primary research interests include nutritional ecology and digestive physiology. She is also interested in working to improve biology education using evidence-based approaches and has contributed to biology education research. She/her/hers.