Research interests

Skills and Approaches

I am excited to contribute my quantitative and research skills as a Science Librarian at OU LibrariesMy background is in quantitative biology.  I use a wide range of software tools to explore interesting research questions from my own areas of expertise, in collaboration with other researchers, and now helping patrons in my position as a science librarian. I am experienced in and enjoy helping other researchers use R and SAS, choose appropriate statistical techniques, and manage their data.  This is evidenced by my certification as an instructor for Software and Data Carpentries, co-instructing Quantitative Methods in Natural Resource Management (a graduate-level course on experimental design and statistics) during my time at the Natural Resources Institute, and helping many patrons and collaborators with R, SAS, ArcGIS, QGIS, and statistics.  This is now part of my position as a science librarian to help guide patrons to appropriate software and statistical resources.

In my own research, I have used a wide variety of techniques, from univariate (including basic statistics to mixed models to power analyses) to multivariate (including canonical correlation analysis to PCA to Mantel tests) statistics.  I have also spoken on more than one occasion about data and project management from my experiences managing my own and others' data during my Ph.D. and post-doctoral work and instruct with The Carpentries to promote best practices in data and coding skills for scientists of all disciplines.

Educational history

My Ph.D. research (where I worked with Michael Patten at the University of Oklahoma) focused on the behavioral and genetic dynamics of an avian hybrid zone, using the Tufted and Black-crested Titmouse species complex of Oklahoma and Texas as a model system. In my first postdoc, I worked as a Post-doctoral Fellow and then Research Associate with Nicola Koper at the University of Manitoba's Natural Resources Institute where I looked at the effects of oil infrastructure noise on prairie songbird behavior, particularly comparing Baird's Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow.  I then returned to Oklahoma where I was a Post-doctoral Research Associate jointly with Michael Patten and Eli Bridge at the Oklahoma Biological Survey at the University of Oklahoma.  



As a science librarian at OU Libraries in concert with my colleagues in the STEM Services team, I have presented and generated open access content around data analysis, management, and visualization.  We continue to expand these offerings each year.  As current chair of our research workshops committee, I'm leading improvements to our data and research workshop descriptions to improve cross-disciplinary appeal, expand our default accessibility accommodations, and produce content to expand uptake of data and research better practices to make scholars' lives easier and more productive.

My biological research interests have included, at various times, speciation, behavioral ecology, and natural history.  My work has particularly focused on the effects of both natural and altered environments on behavior and distribution.  Past projects have examined behavioral responses to anthropogenic noise pollution; behavioral and environmental factors influencing a hybrid zone's stability; data scale influences on the results of species distribution models; data cleaning and management in animal tracking; and hybrid zone theory.  I additionally have a long-standing interest in natural history of birds, odonates, lichens, and Lepidotera (butterflies, skippers, and moths). 

Science librarianship

Statistics Helper Project

Statistics Helper is a proposed interactive educational website to guide users to literature on potential suitable statistics for their data and goals. The range of books, papers, and online educational materials can be overwhelming for a researcher who is not sure where to start in analyzing their data. This tool will ask users questions about their goals and dataset to narrow down a curated list of resources and short glossary definitions, which will be presented to the user throughout the process. As we've found, faculty see a need for a statistical help center like they have had at previous institutions. The Statistics Helper tool will help current librarians bridge that gap and triage requests for help while simultaneously educating customers.  We are currently building the website with generous seed funding grant of $10k from the OU Data Institute for Societal Challenges for June 2022-2023.

STEM to Librarianship Pathway

With my supervisor S. Robbins and colleagues A.B. Schilling and B.N. Tweedy (now a science librarian at UC Davis), we have an article titled "Recruiting, Hiring, & On-Boarding Non-MLS Liaison Librarians: A Case Study" in  Library Leadership & Management (2022).  This paper is based on our experiences joining OU Libraries' under Sarah's supervision in 2018 and what we felt libraries hiring candidates like ourselves might want to know about recruiting researchers.

Interdisciplinary collaborations as a librarian

Arachnid navigation review

I was honored to work with noted scorpion expert Doug Gaffin at OU to review classic and emerging models in arachnid navigation.  This was published in 2020 at Journal of Arachnology!

Implementing agent-based models in R

I worked with graduate student Justine Rockwood (in the lab of Eric Day in OU's Psychology Department) to build and expand R code for an agent-based model about team size, expertise, and efficiency.  This work has been accepted as a peer-reviewed poster at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, United States, where Justine presented it.  The manuscript is now in revision for a journal.

Data management and processing tools

Electronic Transponder Analysis Gateway (ETAG): an animal behavior observatory

I'm working with Eli Bridge and J.E. Ruyle (OU Advanced Radar Research Center) to create ETAG, which will be a data management system for scientists working with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology for animal studies.  The final version will include the ability to automatically upload data from wireless-enabled RFID readers, a secure archive of researchers' data, and a customizable output API that will allow users to showcase their research and data on their own website or education websites.  This system will facilitate data management, currently done by each individual researcher, leaving researchers with more time to do science.  This project is funded by NSF ABI 1458402.  An overview of the hardware side of ETAG with a brief discussion of the software has just been published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.  The software manuscript is in revision.

TAGS: Totally Awesome Geolocator Service

TAGS, the Totally Awesome Geolocator Service, is a web-based service that allows you to edit messy geolocator data in a point-and-click format while saving excluded values for reproducible work.  The app code is now available on github now if you wish to use it locally (required for datasets >30 MB) or visit our R Shiny app online.  It was featured at a 2018 International Ornithological Congress workshop on geolocation.  This manuscript is in preparation.

Behavioral landscape ecology and conservation

Landscape ecology of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken

I worked with Michael Patten to determine avoidance thresholds of Lesser Prairie-Chicken to anthropogenic disturbance.  This landscape ecology study will help inform management decisions for this vulnerable species by providing quantitative guidelines on siting wind farms and other structures in this prairie grouse's range.  Alexandra Barnard led this project after I moved to OU Libraries; the work was published in 2021 open access at Scientific Reports.

Species distribution models of grassland birds

I worked with Eli Bridge and collaborators Jeremy Ross and Andrea Contina (both at OU) to determine how land use and bioclimatic variables affect grassland bird distribution in Oklahoma, and how climate change may impact these already vulnerable species.  We're using spatially explicit models with machine learning to generate more accurate maps across regions with different drivers of populations.  Additionally, we are testing whether this computationally expensive method generates substantially improved distribution maps relative to the processing power it takes to create the ensemble maps.   This work was published in Ecology and Evolution in 2018 and the code is available at

Anthropogenic noise pollution

I worked with Nicola Koper on the effects of noise from energy development (specifically oil and gas infrastructure) in southeastern Alberta.  This project specifically compares how Baird's Sparrow (Ammodramus bairdii) and Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) songs are altered in the presence of noise.  We found that both species change their songs in spite of the Savannah Sparrow's higher levels of rangewide variability in song (2017 in Bioacoustics) and additionally that some infrastructure types alter more song elements of Savannah Sparrows than other infrastructure types (Condor, accepted Sept. 2017).  I'm a co-author on an Ecology and Evolution paper asking whether noise pollution affects the ability of observers to detect species by sound during surveys. Finally, we conducted experiments to see how Savannah Sparrow response to song is changed with both songs from quiet and noisy environments in the two environments, respectively, and whether individual physiology was associated with these responses.  Our 2018 open access article in Scientific Reports has all the details, code, and data.  

Hybrid zone theory

I proposed a synthetic framework that combines the major hybrid zone models based on direction of selection.  This was published in 2015 as an essay in Evolutionary Biology.

Titmouse hybridization

My Ph.D. work, with Michael Patten, examined several aspects of a temporally complex passerine hybrid zone in the southern Great Plains of North America, that between the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) and Black-crested Titmouse (B. atricristatus).  Data and links to the papers are also on Open Science Framework.

Morphology and distribution

We showed that the titmouse hybrid zone has been stable in Texas since its last survey in the 1950s, map the range expansion into Oklahoma, and describe plumage and morphometric changes across both the younger Oklahoma and older Texas contact zones. We additionally provide the first published color illustration of the Dixon hybrid index (1955).  This work was published in the American Midland Naturalist in 2014.


I used male playback experiments and female preference experiments to examine how the role of premating isolation may differ between the younger and older contact zones. These experiments along with data from NestWatch on nesting success have been published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.


Using next-generation genomic data (in collaboration with Jason Weir at the University of Toronto-Scarborough and Scott Taylor and Georgy Semenov at the University of Colorado - Boulder), we compare genomic and geographic clines in both the younger and older zones to better understand what genes are involved in reproductive isolation.  This manuscript was accepted in 2023 at Ornithology (formerly The Auk).


I recorded songs and collected vegetation measurements from across both the younger and older parts of the titmouse hybrid zone to document song differences and test the acoustic adaptation hypothesis as an explanation for those differences.  This work was published in 2019 in Behaviour.

Natural history studies

Teloschistes chrysophthalmus, photo by Mary Curry

Lichens of north-central Texas

I'm collaborating on an illustrated checklist of lichens found in Wise County, Texas, and surrounding areas with photographer and naturalist Mary Curry. Our focus is on surveying the lichen flora of the LBJ National Grasslands (which is located in Wise County) with additional sampling at nearby sites.  We are currently sampling sites and identifying specimens.  We have an Open Science Framework project where you can see photos (including of spores and chemical tests) and our preliminary specimen spreadsheet.