For Prospective Students: I am not able to accept graduate students for the current application cycle (fall 2023 deadline, to begin graduate school in fall 2024). I anticipate having availability next year (to begin graduate school in fall 2025).
Ben Winger | Principal Investigator
View Ben Winger's CV
Ben is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Birds in the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan. He is an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist with broad and diverse interests in avian evolution, ecology and behavior. Ben earned his PhD in 2015 from the University of Chicago and his BA in 2007 from Cornell University.
Contact: wingerb [at] umich.edu
Matt Hack | PhD Student (2021-)
Matt is interested in the factors shaping geographic range and distribution in migratory birds, and the responses of their distributions to global change. Before joining the Winger Lab, he spent a year with the USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center, studying the nesting ecology of terns in the Chesapeake Bay. Matt graduated from Yale University in 2020, where he studied phylogeography of South American birds.
Eric Gulson-Castillo | PhD Student (2018-)
Eric is interested in the ecology and evolution of avian movements and is studying the evolution of avian magnetoreception for his dissertation. Prior to beginning graduate school, Eric spent a year in Indonesia on a Fulbright scholarship, researching Sulawesi’s unique starlings and hornbills. He graduated from Cornell University in 2015 and has since done field work in far-flung places, with a focus on Bornean birds. He has done research on thermoregulation, morphology, and natural history.
Kristen Wacker | PhD Student (2019- )
Kristen graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. Prior to joining the Winger Lab, she worked as a genetics lab technician at the Field Museum of Natural History, contributing to projects on the phylogenetics, biogeography, and pathogens of endemic birds from Madagascar. At Michigan, she uses comparative methods to investigate the role of gene flow in speciation in birds and the links between microevolutionary processes and macroevolutionary patterns. She is particularly interested in the avifauna of tropical South America.
Max Witynski| PhD Student (2023- )
Max graduated from Cornell University in 2017. His undergraduate thesis focused on migratory connectivity, and he remains broadly interested in how migratory routes and strategies have evolved. Prior to joining the PhD program, Max worked in research communication in Chicago, where he wrote for Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
Dr. Abby Kimmitt| Postdoctoral Fellow
Abby is an integrative biologist interested in how animals cope with the challenges of seasonal environments. She investigates both the proximate mechanisms underlying seasonal behaviors, such as migration and reproduction, and the evolutionary consequences of variation in these behaviors. She joined the Winger lab as a postdoc in EEB in 2021 to study the relationship between seasonal migration and evolutionary processes in birds. Abby received her PhD from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2019.
Dr. Teresa Pegan| Postdoctoral Fellow
Teresa completed her PhD in our lab in 2023 and is now a postdoctoral fellow. Her research integrates behavioral, ecological, and genomic information in a comparative context to understand the evolutionary consequences of seasonal migration and dispersal. Her current work focuses on comparative population genomics of the boreal migratory bird species assemblage, including investigation into spatial genetic patterns, molecular evolutionary rates, and inversion polymorphisms in these species. Teresa has been involved in field projects in Malaysian Borneo, Argentina, Manitoba, and Michigan.
Dr. Brett Benz | UMMZ Ornithology Collection Manager
Brett began as the Collection Manager of the UMMZ bird collections in 2019 and is also an Assistant Research Scientists in EEB. He is a leading expert on the taxonomy and distribution of the birds of New Guinea, and conducts active collections-based research throughout New Guinea. He received his PhD and B.S. from Kansas University. Prior to joining the UMMZ, Brett was a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History.
Staff website: https://lsa.umich.edu/eeb/people/collections-staff/brett-benz.html
Dr. Valentina Gómez-Bahamón| Visiting Scholar
Valentina is an Eberly Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Penn State University. She is broadly interested in the ecological and evolutionary consequences of behavioral strategies in birds. She is currently visiting the Winger lab where she is collaborating on projects studying the macroecology and evolution of migration in birds.