Current Members of the Braun Lab

Michael J. Braun

Principal Investigator; cv
Research Scientist, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History;
Adjunct Professor, Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Program, University of Maryland

202-633-0739; braunm [at]

National Museum of Natural History-MRC 163

P.O. Box 37012

Washington, DC 20013-7012

Mike smiling w binos

“My research focuses on the use of molecular genetic data to explore the origin and maintenance of biological diversity.  Current projects include: 1) molecular phylogenetic studies on the early radiation of all living birds, as well as specific groups (raptors, nightbirds), 2) Molecular, morphological, and behavioral studies of hybrid zones as models of speciation, and 3) integrative studies of avian biogeography and conservation.”

Brian Coyle

Post-doc; cv

coyleb [at]

“As a postdoc in the Braun lab, I am involved in two projects. First, I am studying the phylogeography of endemic avifauna of the Tepui Highlands of northern South America to better understand the evolutionary origins of these taxa.  Pantepui avifauna occur mainly at the species and subspecies level, reflecting an ongoing process of diversification.  I will be testing a number of competing hypotheses that have been proposed to explain Pantepui avifauna endemism in various contexts; temporal, spatial, and ecological.  This research may offer important insights into mechanisms underlying diversification and community assemblage.  Second, I am involved in an international partnership of scientists, educators, policy experts and others working to recover the critically endangered Red Siskin, Sporagra (Carduelis) cucullata, in Venezuela. My participation involves contributing to the development of a comprehensive recovery plan and developing molecular tools for genomic management and monitoring of an ex situ breeding colony and, eventually, reintroduced flocks. I am also working to expand conservation education and outreach, an essential component of the campaign to achieve sustainable biodiversity.”

Haw Chuan Lim

Post-doc; website

202-633-9075; limhc [at]

“My research at the Smithsonian Institution uses sequence capture, genotyping-by-sequencing and high-throughput sequencing to improve Lim_photo_2our understanding of how geography and environmental factors drive divergence, speciation and distribution of Southeast Asian birds. One specific project uses a probe-set based on ultra-conserved elements (UCEs) to conduct comparative phylogeographic study of five passerine species from Indo-Burma and Sundaland. The sequence capture approach adopted here allows me to interrogate modern genetic samples, as well as old museum specimens. I am also interested in using data generated through genotyping-by-sequencing to probe genomic changes across hybrid zones and across environmental gradients.”

Noor D. White

PhD Candidate; website

202-633-9064; whitend [at]

“My research focuses on molecular phylogenetics, specifically, inference using genome-scale markers. I am looking at ultra-conserved elements (UCEs), using available genomes to investigate potential function, and developing best methods for using UCEs to inform phylogeny. My study system are the nightbirds, swifts and hummingbirds (Caprimulgiformes + Apodiformes = Strisores). I am applying UCEs to elucidate the evolutionary switch between nocturnality and diurnality in these birds, as we know that the diurnal Apodiformes are nested within the nocturnal/crepuscular Caprimulgiformes. To this end, I am investigating the molecular basis of nocturnal vision across the avian tree of life by studying the molecular evolution of opsin sequences. Ultimately this will allow us to answer questions about the evolutionary advantages and the adaptive basis of nocturnal and diurnal lifestyles.”

Lab Alumni

Judy Blake, Associate Professor at The Jackson Labs

Jon Bollback, Institute of Science and Technology Austria

Robb T. Brumfield, Director and Roy Paul Daniels Professor of Biology at Louisiana State University

Travis C. Glenn, Associate Professor at University of Georgia

Kin-Lan Han, PhD Candidate at University of Florida

John Huelsenbeck, Professor at University of California at Berkeley

Sarah Kingston, Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar at Bowdoin College

Carey Krajewski, Professor at the Southern Illinois University

Jean Mariaux, Professor at the University of Geneva

David McDonald, Professor at the University of Wyoming

Judy Rhymer, Recently retired from the University of Maine

Thomas Parsons, Scientific Director, International Commission on Missing Persons; Adjunct assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University

Ken Rosenberg, Director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Scott Steppan, Associate Professor at Florida State University
Kevin Winker, Curator of Birds and Professor at the University of Alaska

Tamaki Yuri, Collections Specialist at Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History