Dr. Dai Shizuka (PI)

Current Lab Members:

Dr. Allison Johnson (Research Assistant Professor)

Dr. Allison Johnson is a Research Assistant Professor associated with our lab. She works on cooperative breeding in fairywrens, heterospecific recognition, long-term social network dynamics. She is also the co-founder of Visit her website here.

Laura Vander Meiden (Ph.D. Student)


Laura Vander Meiden got her B.S. from University of Miami and came to our lab with a strong interest in understanding how different species interact with each other. Her current research focuses on on heterospecific interactions in the context of mixed-species flocks. She is also an aspiring environmental data journalist, where she hopes to combine her passion nad expertise in data analysis, data visualization and storytelling.

Annie Madsen (Ph.D. Student)


Annie Madsen is a Ph.D. student studying how animal culture and long-term dynamics of social networks influence populations and communities. She earned her B.S. in Biology at UNL and worked as our lab manager for a semester before joining the lab as a Ph.D. student. She is currently funded by the Resilience NRT program in the School of Natural Resources. She is working with two different study systems: our long-term study of golden-crowned sparrows, as well as long-term dataset on Asian elephants in Sri Lanka in collaboration with Dr. Shermin de Silva, founder of Trunks & Leaves. Here is her website.

Faiza Hafeez (Ph.D. Student)

Faiza with a red-winged blackbird (handled with proper permit and training).

Faiza Hafeez is a Ph.D. student who has already attained two Masters degrees, one in Wildlife Ecology from Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, and one in Psychology from University of Buffalo. She is working on unraveling the function of vocal communication networks in birds in the wild!

Quentin Smith (Masters Student, co-advised with Kate Lyons)

Quentin Smith

Quentin Smith joined Kate Lyon’s lab and our lab as a co-advised Master’s student in Fall 2021. He graduated with B.S. in Biology from Augsburg College and spent a year in the PREP program at University of Kansas. He is looking to apply network methods to understand the process of community assembly using paleontological records from Halls Cave, TX.

Brandy Williams (Ph.D. Student)

Brandy Williams

Brandy Williams joined our lab in Fall 2022. She graduated from University of Missouri in Spring 2022. She won a Turner Award from the Animal Behavior Society in 2022 and a Resilience NRT fellowship from UNL. She is interested in various aspects of avian behavior, including ecological and evolutionary implications of extraordinary parental investment such as distraction displays.

Undergraduate Students:

Summer undergraduate students: Yasmin, Brady & Furqan

Furqan Mahdi

Furqan extracting DNA from bird blood samples!

Furqan Mahdi (class of 2024) started working in the lab in Fall 2020 as a First Year Research Experience (FYRE) fellow and now has continued on with funding from Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) fellowship. She has worked on extracting behavior data from videos for two different projects, and is now taking over the DNA work in the lab. She is a Biosystems Engineering major.

Yasmin Worth

Yasmin practicing handling birds

Yasmin Worth (class of 2025) is a member of our inaugural class of Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) Research Bridge Program. She graduated from North Star High School in Lincoln, NE in May 2021 and has jumped right into working in our lab this summer! She is Pre-Vet.

Carly Trebac

Carly at Cedar Point Biological Station

Carly Trebac (class of 2023) was inspired to start working the lab after taking Dr. Allison Johnson’s Field Avian Biology course at Cedar Point Biological Station. She is quickly becoming an experienced bander and researcher.


Ian Hoppe

Ian Hoppe earned his Master’s degree with Liz VanWormer in the School of Natural Resources at UNL. His Masters work, conducted at Brookfield Conservation Park in collaboration with Allison Johnson and Laura Vander Meiden focused on the connections between interspecific sociality and prevalence of avian blood parasites.

Stella Uiterwaal

Stella Uiterwaal is a Ph.D. student in the DeLong Lab in SBS at UNL. She has collaborated with us on various local projects, at both Reller Prairie and Cedar Point Biological Station

Christine Evans

Dr. Evans is a postdoc at the Bird Lab at Flinders University. She has been an instrumental collaborator in collecting data from our Brookfield field site in Australia during the pandemic.

Sahas Barve

Dr. Barve is a postdoc at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He was previously a postdoc at Old Dominion University, where he worked on various aspects of cooperative breeding in Acorn Woodpeckers with Eric Walters

Elizabeth VanWormer

Eric Walters

Bruce Lyon & Alexis Chaine

Lab Alumni:

Brady Pham (undergraduate researcher, 2020-2021) has been working in the lab since Fall 2020 and has just graduated in May 2021! Brady is staying on doing work in the lab through the summer while getting experience in preparation for pursuing a graduate degree in public health.

Kris Hans (Undergraduate UCARE student)


Kris received funding from the UNL UCARE research fellowship to conduct work on winter ecology of birds using our new RFID feeder system.

Dr. Eli Strauss (Postdoc, 2019-2020)


Eli was a PoE Postdoc from 2019-2020. He came to us from the Holekamp Lab at MSU, where he completed his Ph.D. in Spring 2019. He is now spending time as Humboldt Postdoc with Damien Farine and Max Planck postdoc at the Ecology of Animal Societies group. Check out his research on his website here.

Maria Goller (Ph.D. 2020)

Maria Goller

Maria finished her Ph.D. on evolution and function of vocal mimicry in May 2020.

Emily Hudson (Ph.D. 2018)

Emily Hudson

Emily finished her Ph.D. on December 2018. She is now a postdoc in the Creanza Lab at Vanderbilt University.

Matt Wilkins (Postdoc: 2014-2016)

Posing with our 30th bird! (Our target sample size for each study area)
Matt Wilkins

Matt was a PoE postdoc and and Shizuka Lab postdoc and innovated the phenotype network approach to studying multi-component signal traits. Matt went on to a stint as a postdoc at Vanderbilt University Center for Science Outreach. He is the founder of the innovative education studio, Galactic Polymath.

Arich Knaub (undergraduate researcher)


Arich graduate with a major in Math and minor in Biology in Spring 2019. He now teaches math in high school.

Bridget Bickner (undergraduate researcher)

Bridget Bickner

Briget has been working as lab technician running various DNA analyses. She is now a Ph.D. student at Harvard with Dr. Robin Hopkins.

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