International Scholar Research Support Program (ISRSP)

Our International Scholar Research Support Program fosters collaborations with researchers and students seeking to use genomic tools to answer questions relevant to avian evolutionary biology. These collaborations serve the double purpose of addressing specific research questions and enhancing the participating scholars’ skills with the genomic tools/bioinformatics pipelines that we use routinely in the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Lab. Our overarching goal is for our international colleagues to expand their expertise in applying genomic tools to questions in evolution, ecology, behavior, and conservation, and to use these techniques in subsequent studies and/or to teach them to their students/colleagues at their home institutions.

Our ISRSP participants visit the Fuller Program for periods ranging from one to six months. Most are at the advanced graduate student or postdoctoral career stage. They each bring with them pre-defined research questions derived from their own research program, and usually the biological samples required to address those questions.

Our lab group is particularly well suited for ISRSP scholars seeking to conduct studies using methods incluidng comparative genomics, full-genome resequencing, reduced-representation SNP assays, or SNP-based analyses of individual relatedness and parentage. These kinds of approaches are well suited for a range of studies, including investigations of the genetic basis of particular traits, phylogeography and landscape genetics, conservation genetics, systematics, and behavioral ecology.

In recent years, we have enjoyed hosting visitors from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Great Britain, and Israel, as well as from numerous institutions within the USA. If you are potentially interested in joining our lab group for a visit of several weeks to several months, please contact us so that we can discuss your goals and our ability to support them. These opportunities generally involve substantial advance planning, especially when samples must be imported to our lab from other countries.

At present we do not provide travel or living support for ISRSP visitors. On a case-by-case basis we may be able to help cover the laboratory and computational costs of ISRSP projects.

Contact information: Program Coordinator Dr. Leonardo Campagna (


Recent Visitors

Jorge Enrique Avendaño. Universidad de los Andes (Colombia).


Jorge is a fourth-year PhD student in Daniel Cadena’s Lab in Colombia, and is visiting the Fuller Lab on a six-month internship. Here will be developing one of his thesis chapters aimed to uncover the genetic basis of the black pectoral bands in Arremon brushfinches, a trait that has evolved multiple times in this group of Neotropical birds.

He will sequence the genome of two recently diverged taxa in Arremon; in one taxon the black pectoral band is present (A. t. torquatus), whereas in the other the band was lost (A. t. borelli). This scenario represents an opportunity to identify genomic regions or candidate loci potentially associated with the evolution of the pectoral band because populations are genetically homogenous as a consequence of their recent origin. Once we identify genetic differences potentially underlying phenotypic divergence, we will sequence target loci across a set of selected Arremon taxa with the aim of determining whether convergent evolution in plumage phenotype is mediated by identical or different mutations in the same genes.

Jorge’s work in this group of finches has focused on testing hypotheses about the role of this plumage patch under contexts of male-male competition, for which he has conducted several behavioral experiments manipulating plumage patches and assessing the response of territorial males to taxidermic mounts and manipulated neighbors. Thus this genomic side of his project will give him a deeper understanding of the biological causes underlying the evolution of geographical variation in plumage coloration that precedes speciation. Jorge is the older biologist on the left, the younger one is his son Juan.


Callum McDiarmid. Macquarie University (Australia).

Callum will be visiting the Fuller Lab from July through December 2019 on a Fulbright scholarship. His PhD research investigates speciation using the long-tailed finch Poephila acuticauda, an Australian grass finch found across Australia’s top end. His work encompasses the naturally occurring hybrid zone in the Kimberley region, detailed behavioural and physiological experiments in captivity, and genomics. His main project in Ithaca will use blood and sperm samples he collected earlier this year across the long-tailed finch hybrid zone and aims to further illuminate the genomic basis of sperm morphology in this system, as well as provide a detailed examination of hybrid composition within the hybrid zone.









Laura Céspedes. Universidad de los Andes (Colombia).


Laura will visit Ithaca from May to October and will be obtaining genomic data to study the history of diversification and hybridization within a complex of Andean warblers (Myioborus ornatusMyioborus melanocephalus). Laura studied this species complex during her masters at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia), and found low genetic divergence in mtDNA between taxa with striking phenotypic differences in facial coloration. Laura also found evidence of a hybrid zone around the Colombia-Ecuador border, and during the following months will generate genomic data to understand the relationship between genetic and phenotypic differences in this area.




Dr. Miguel Ávila and Amy Wynia. Universidad de las Américas (Chile) and University of North Texas.

Miguel and Amy are visiting Ithaca during December 2018 and are interested in the conservation of an endemic species of the Souther Andean Temperate Forest, the Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus). During their visit to the Fuller Evolutionary biology lab they will develop genetic markers to obtain a better understanding of the population structure and patterns of connectivity across the species’ Chilean range.









Eliane Luiz de Freitas. University of Brasília (Brazil).

Eliane is a Ph.D. student in the Animal Biology Graduate Program at the University of Brasília. She will be visiting the Fuller Lab for 9 months thanks to a CAPES fellowship from Brazil. Eliane works with two species from the genus Elaenia (E. cristata and E. chiriquensis) focusing on population genetics and comparative phylogeography. She says that any similarity between her name (Eliane) and her study species (Elaenia) is just a coincidence! Eliane will be obtaining SNP markers and conducting population genomic analyses for her two species. Here’s a picture of Eliane with an Elaenia in the field, trying to figure out exactly which one it is…











Ramiro Arrieta (right) and Juan Manuel Rojas Ripari (left). The Argentine Institute for Arid Zone Research (Mendoza, Argentina) and the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Here Ramiro and Juan Manuel unpack the cumulative result of four years spent in the field chasing Neotropical birds. Juan Manuel has been following Greyish Baywings (Agelaioides badius) as part of his PhD, this bird is the main host of a specialist brood parasite, the screaming cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris). Ramiro studies Sedge Wrens (Cisthotorus platensis) for his dissertation and received a Fulbright scholarship to visit the Fuller lab. Both Juan Manuel and Ramiro will be using genomic techniques to help answer behavioral ecology questions. They will generate genotypic data to infer levels of extra-pair paternity and kinship. These data will then be combined with hard-earned field observations and experiments to reach a better understanding of avian mating systems. Ramiro and Juan Manuel will spend the Fall semester in Ithaca.










Cecilia Estalles. Argentine Museum of Natural History (Argentina)

Cecilia received a Fulbright scholarship to visit our lab between June and August (2018). She will be working on her PhD using whole genome sequencing of capuchino seedeaters to associate genetic regions with variation in specific plumage patches. Adult capuchino males of different species vary in coloration across various patches and usually many patches change together at the same time (as can be seen in the illustration by Jillian Ditner). During her stay in Ithaca she will aim to figure out the genetic basis of the black throat in Sporophila ruficollis. Cecilia visited Ithaca for a second time during the summer of 2019. 











Belén Bukowski. Argentine Museum of Natural History (Argentina)

Belén is in Ithaca for the month of May (2018) and will be working on her doctoral dissertation (supervised by Dr. Darío Lijtmaer and Dr. Pablo Tubaro) which aims to understand the drivers of population differentiation in a few different bird species from the Neotropics. One of these species is the Southern lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), a widespread bird from South America. For those familiar with Neotropical birds, V. chilensis will try to takeover open green spaces and aggressively chase you away while frantically calling. It turns out that these calls are actually very different across the species’ range. Belén will generate ddRAD data to shed light on the evolutionary history of the species, and figure out if these different calls are coming from genetically differentiated populations.











Pablo Lavinia. Argentine Museum of Natural History (Argentina)

Pablo is visiting our lab in May and June of 2018 to conduct research in the context of his postdoc with Dr. Darío Lijtmaer and Dr. Pablo Tubaro in Argentina. Pablo will be studying a common Neotropical bird, the Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis). This bird is distributed from Tierra del Fuego in Argentina to Mexico. Most birds have two black stripes on their heads, but individuals from the southernmost portion of the distribution (in Patagonia) lack these stripes. These individuals, which belong to the subspecies Z. c. australis, are also exceptional because they are migrants. Pablo will be using whole genome sequencing to understand the genetic changes that make Z. c. australis birds phenotypically different.







Nicolás Lois. Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Nicolás visited in October of 2017 to conduct work on Southern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) in the context of his PhD. Nicolás is interested in understanding the history of connectivity and potential barriers to gene flow in this species. Here he observes how samples collected over many long field seasons in islands of the southern Atlantic and Patagonia turn into a progressively smaller number of tubes. They were all finally combined into a single tube that went on the sequencer. 









Catalina Palacios. Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)

Catalina visited the Fuller Evolutionary Biology lab between February and August of 2017. She obtained genome sequences of two hummingbird species, Coeligena helianthea and Coeligena bonapartei, and for her PhD aims to understand the genetic basis of the differences between these two sister species. Catalina’s visit encompassed both snow storms in the winter and hot humid days in the summer, allowing her to experience the full spectrum of Ithaca weather.




Darío Lijtmaer and Cecilia Kopuchian. Argentine Museum of Natural History (Argentina) and Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral (Argentina)

Darío and Cecilia coincided in their visit to the Fuller Evolutionary Biology lab in September of 2016. They are both researchers for the Argentine Research Council (CONICET) and have their own labs in Argentina. Darío is working on a phylogeographic study of the house wren (Troglodytes aedon). Cecilia is studying the role of the Paraná River in shaping population structure in many different passerine birds. This was Cecilia’s second visit to the Fuller Lab. One of the papers from these projects can be found here.






Sebastián Cabanne. Argentine Museum of Natural History (Argentina)

Sebastián’s second visit to Ithaca was in the summer of 2016. Sebastián’s lab in Argentina is interested in understanding the historical connectivity among biomes in the Neotropics. Sebastián uses a variety of passerine birds to study the biogeography of the Andean forest and the Atlantic forest in South America.







Márcio Repenning. Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

Márcio visited Ithaca during the summer and fall of 2015. He conducted both song and genetic analyses for his PhD, which involved understanding the variation in both types of data among closely related Sporophila seedeater species. Márcio focuses both on Capuchino Seedeaters (Sporophila) and on a pair of recently diverged Sporophilas, S. beltoni and S. plumbea. S. beltoni is a species from Southern Brazil that was recently described by Márcio and his PhD advisor Carla Fontana.






Luciano Calderón. University of Giessen (Germany)

Luciano visited the Fuller Lab in the context of his postdoctoral work in February of 2015. He studied the migratory connectivity and demographic history of the endangered European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur). Luciano developed genetic markers for doves sampled across Europe. Luciano’s publication from this study can be found here.






Cecilia Kopuchian and Sebastián Cabanne. Centro de Ecología Aplicada del Litoral (Argentina) and Argentine Museum of Natural History (Argentina)

Cecilia and Sebastián both have their own labs in Argentina and visited Ithaca in October of 2014. Cecilia worked on the endangered Ruddy-headed goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps) and other species of sheldgeese from southern Argentina. Cecilia’s publication from this project can be found here. Sebastián worked on a comparative phylogeography project involving different species of Neotropical passerines. Sebastián’s paper can be found here.






Pilar Benites. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (Mexico)

Pilar’s visit to Ithaca was in February of 2014. Pilar did work for her postdoc at UNAM in Mexico, including analyzing data from playback experiments in the field. In the picture she is hitting the submit button for the publication that can be found here.



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