Ornithological Research at the New York State Museum

Leader or Speaker: 
Dr. Jeremy J. Kirchman, Curator of Birds, New York State Museum
Location of Event: 
Colonie Town Library
January 3, 2011 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Dr. Jeremy Kirchman grew up in Illinois. He caught the ornithology bug as a college student when he worked on a field crew of bird surveyors in the Ozark Mountains. He earned a BA in Biology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1994, and a MS in Zoology from Louisiana State University in 1997, where he studied the population genetics of the Cave Swallow species complex. It was at LSU that Jeremy first became interested in museum specimen-based ornithology. From 1997-2000 he worked at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and from 2000-2001 taught biology at Chicago's St. Gregory High School. In 2001 Jeremy returned to grad school and earned a Ph.D. in Zoology at the University of Florida in 2006. His advisor was Dr. David Steadman, Curator of Birds at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and his dissertation research was on the speciation and extinction of flightless rails on Pacific islands. Since 2006 Dr. Kirchman has been the Curator of Birds at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY, and Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the State University of New York at Albany.

His research focuses on historical questions concerning the biogeography and evolution of birds. His goal is to document patterns of bird diversification and extinction over the last few million years and to understand the evolutionary processes that affect bird populations. He primarily makes use of DNA sequencing technology, including “ancient DNA” techniques, to examine genetic differences among populations. Since coming to the NYSM in 2006,he has worked to modernize the Ornithology Collection and to establish research projects on extinct North American bird species, and on birds that breed in isolated habitats such as the pitch pine-scrub oak barrens near Albany, and the boreal forest “islands” at high elevations in the Catskills and Adirondacks.

His talk on January 3rd, entitled “Ornithological Research at the New York State Museum” will be an overview of ongoing research projects by myself, my students, and other collaborators. The talk will also include a behind-the-scenes look at the labs and the research collection at the NYSM.