About OEB

OEB provides interdepartmental training for MS and PhD students in ecology, animal behavior, organismal biology and evolutionary biology. Graduate students, post-docs, and faculty study biological processes ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level, often bridging the gap between basic and applied research. Our faculty and students conduct research in four broad areas:

Animal Behavior: Behavioral ecology, communication, learning
Ecology: Community ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology
Evolutionary Biology: Evolution, phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution
Organismal Biology: Physiology, morphology, paleontology

News & Announcements

John Swenson wins Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society

John Swenson received the prestigious Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society in the amount of $10,000. The committee praised his proposal as addressing "a subject of key importance in marine conservation." Way to go, John!

Lian  Guo, Elsa Cousins and Kadambari Devarajan win OEB Research Awards

Lian Guo received the Irwin Martin research award for her proposal on "Testing Thermal Sensitivity to Understand Differential Climate Effects in River Herring." The Irwin Martin Award is provided by a generous OEB donor to support graduate student research. 

Elsa Cousins and Kadambari Devarajan each received an OEB research grant award for their proposed research on secondary defense chemicals in non-native mustard (Elsa) and effects of species interactions on carnivore community structure (Kadambari).

Dr. Paige Warren Wins Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award

Paige Warren

OEB Graduate Program Director Paige Warren has been selected by the Graduate School as one of this year's three Distinguished Graduate Mentors. Each year, the Graduate School recognizes three outstanding members of the faculty based on nominations by their peers on the graduate faculty and supporting letters by students and colleagues. These nominations showcase the many ways in which faculty mentors provide extraordinary guidance in research, excellent teaching in both formal and informal settings, and strong support for students' professional development as they prepare for their chosen careers. This year's awards also recognize winners for making significant and consistent contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion in graduate education at UMass, and for supporting not only their own advisees but other graduate students as well.

Congratulations, Paige!

OEB students continue with their accomplishments this semester:

Joe Drake published a cool blog piece on collaborative research he is co-leading: https://appliedecologistsblog.com/2020/03/26/environmental-dna-from-rive...

Kadambari Devarajan's research was highlighted in an article by the Wildlife Society: https://wildlife.org/researchers-craft-roadmap-for-studying-wildlife-com...

She was also awarded a $10,000 National Geographic Early Career Grant and has joined the cohort of 2020 National Geographic Explorers. And she was selected to be one of 4 students from across the university to represent UMass at the CASE workshop organized by AAAS this year. Unfortunately, the workshop has been postponed due to the pandemic.

Jake Barnett, Laura Hancock, Mayrolin Morales, and Josh Moyer were awarded a UMass Natural History Collections scholarship for the summer.

John Swenson was awarded  a $7,300 Small Grant from the Save Our Seas Foundation to develop molecular resources that will help facilitate his thesis research on cownose rays.

Alex Winsor, first-year OEB student,  published a paper from his previous work:   “Methods for independently manipulating palatability and color in small insect prey” in PLOS One.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231205. 

Kit Straley was selected as Fish and Wildlife Service Directorate Fellow for the summer. The competitive program offers 11-week fellowships working on projects that support FWS Conservation priorities.

Seanne Clemente was awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship,

Incoming student Katrina Smith received Honorable Mention for her NSF GRF application.

Congratulations to everyone!

Digital Life on Earth
UMass Amherst’s Digital Life Project creates visual records of critically endangered species


The Digital Life Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been revolutionary in creating visual records of critically endangered species in ways that technology has never allowed before.

The project team modeled the first-ever 3D image of a southern right whale after researchers used aerial photography and drone videos to measure the mass and volume of whales. Previously, the only way to weigh any whale was by using a dead or stranded animal. Using its innovative Beastcam array, the team has also produced the world’s first accurate 3D image of the southern white rhino.

Led by Professor of Biology Duncan Irschick, the Digital Life Project has gathered a number of global collaborators. Documenting southern right whales as they gathered at their winter breeding grounds off the coast of Argentina involved participants from the Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program and the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark. To create the visual of a rare southern white rhino, Irschick and team collaborated with the Perth Zoo in Australia, which volunteered its resident rhino, Bakari, to be photographed.  Read More