Dr. Kelly RonaldAssistant Professor of Biology
Dr. Kelly Ronald is a sensory physiologist/ecologist who began her faculty appointment in Hope's Department of Biology in summer 2019. She is interested in understanding the relationship between animal behavior and sensory physiology by asking the question: What are the physiological mechanisms that contribute to animal behavioral decisions? Dr. Ronald is proud of her history of working with undergraduate student researchers and is excited to bring students into the lab. She values mentorship, teamwork, family and curiosity.
Wanted: Undergraduate Researchers
The Ronald lab is seeking out undergraduate researchers! If you are interested in completing research with Dr. Ronald, please fill out the form at the link below.Express Interest
Areas of Expertise
Dr. Ronald has broad training in animal physiology, behavior and neurobiology. She uses both field and lab approaches to address her research questions.
She is interested in the meaning of animal signals and the mechanisms of signal perception across multiple sensory modalities. Dr. Ronald asks questions like:
- How are animal courtship signals displays of quality?
- How do multimodal signals propagate across different environments?
- How does receiver sensory biology affect behavioral decisions?
- Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Biology, Indiana University
Funded by the National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award T-32, "Themes in Reproductive Diversity"
- Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University
- B.A. Department of Biology, Transylvania University
- B.A. Department of Psychology, Transylvania University
Honors, Grants and Awards
- Walter Clyde Allee Award for Best Student Paper; early career award in the field of animal behavior, 2017
- “Male mice adjust courtship behavior in response to female multimodal signals,” with Xinzhu Zhang, Matthew V. Morrison, Ryan Miller and Laura M. Hurley, PLOS ONE, 2020
- “Mate choice in the eye and ear of the beholder? Female brown-headed cowbird multimodal sensory configuration influences her preferences,”with J.R. Lucas and E. Fernández-Juricic, Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285: 20180713, 2018
- “Testing a key assumption in animal communication: between-individual variation in female visual systems alters perception of male signals,” with A.L. Ensminger, M.S. Shawkey, J.R. Lucas and E. Fernández-Juricic, Biology Open 6, 2017
- “The sensory substrate of multimodal animal communication: are females sensory 'specialists' or 'generalists'?” with T. Sesterhenn, E. Fernández-Juricic and J.R. Lucas, Journal of Comparative Physiology A 203, 2017
- “What makes a multimodal signal attractive? A preference function approach,”with R. Zeng, D. White, E. Fernández-Jurcic and J.R. Lucas, Behavioral Ecology 28, 2017
- “Watch your tone: social conditions modulate singing strategies,”with T. Skillman et al., Ethology. 121 2015
- “Taking the sensory approach: individual differences in auditory and visual perception can influence mate choice,” with J.R. Lucas and E. Fernández-Juricic, Animal Behaviour 84, 2012
- “Effects of habitat and urbanization on the active space of brown-headed cowbird song,” with M.D. Gall, E. Bestrom and J.R. Lucas, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132, 2012
Outside the College
Dr. Ronald enjoys spending time with her family — her husband, Michael, and their three kids: twin sons, Caleb and Ian, and daughter, Norah. They all love their rescue dog, Monty. Kelly and Michael enjoy brewing beer, cooking Indian food, watching horror and science fiction films, completing home projects and pretending they can run distances like they did in their twenties. The Ronald family loves the Gospel and people.