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Kathy Winnett-Murray Professor of Biology
I have broad interests in behavioral, population, and community ecology, especially of vertebrates. My research has included the foraging and breeding strategies of birds as adaptations to natural and human-caused environmental changes, the interactions between habitat selection and life history traits, plant/animal interactions in pollination and seed dispersal mutualisms, and behavioral and ecological aspects of conservation. Most recently I have been investigating the impact of invasive plant species on community dynamics. I have a strong interest in science education and in integrating research experiences with the training of future K-12 teachers and their students.Go to current research projects
Growing up in the Los Angeles area I never really dreamed I would end up being a real biologist, having the opportunity to work in such wild places as Alaska, the California Channel Islands, Costa Rica, or the dune forests of west Michigan. But here I am, able to share some of these experiences with college students. While an undergraduate student at UC Irvine, I was part of a team studying seabird breeding biology on the Channel Islands and was able to be involved in the first extensive research ever carried out on the elusive Xantus’ Murrelet, as well as to participate in an investigation of atypical sex ratios and sexual behavior in Western Gulls. While working on my Master’s degree at CSUN, I continued work on seabirds and became intrigued by the interactions between behavior and changing aspects of animal habitats. I was also able to spend one summer conducting seabird research on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. That was also the summer I married Greg Murray, a fellow biologist! We were lucky to begin a Zoology Ph.D. program together at the University of Florida, where we assisted scientists working on hummingbirds, tropical frogs, wetland mammals and birds, and began to acquire experience working in the neotropics, especially Monteverde, Costa Rica. My dissertation was a continuation of my interest in the “behavior and changing habitats” theme, using 4 species of tropical wrens as a comparison for how life history strategies derive from the level of disturbance and/or unpredictability in a habitat. Since becoming a professor at Hope, my students and I have found many other opportunities to extend this same theme to other systems nearby, most notably, our study of Eastern Bluebirds and their avian competitors in the highly disturbed and fragmented landscape of Consumer’s Energy J.H. Campbell Complex in west Michigan. There, we are beginning to decipher how birds respond behaviorally to ecological changes, and the consequences of doing so. Along the way, I’ve become very inspired by K-12 teachers and challenges they face in science education and so I make a habit of looking for ways to integrate my own teaching and research with various science education programs. In particular, I enjoy having pre-science teachers (or students wondering about science teaching as a possible career) participate in my research projects.
Dr. Winnett-Murray is on Facebook (Hope Biology Alumni)
Please make an appointment to see me.
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