Breakfast Tunes

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my schedule revolves around my meals. To me, seminars primarily mean the time of day where I drag myself up ten million flights of stairs to French Family and finally get to reenergize with some granola bars, fruit, OJ, and yogurt (thanks for the new yogurt, Jason!)

While I love having seminars because it means getting to eat, there’s an added bonus of going: learning about other research that faculty members are doing. The seminar that struck me the most was Dean Steve Nowicki’s. Steve is my academic advisor, and I’ve heard a lot of his stories including his research. I’m not sure if it’s because I wasn’t eating when I first heard it, but I never fully understood the research he was doing until he came and presented to us — and wow am I glad I finally understand it!

Steve’s research investigates how birds communicate using various biological approaches. After taking genetics and evolution in the Spring, I was able to have the capacity to fully understand his presentation. It was amazing how he was able to connect how birds learn to communicate with humans. One anecdote that he brought up was the inability to hear certain phonemes and growing up bilingual, I completely understood. I remember my parents trying to pronounce Walmart and not being able to enunciate the l’s and the r’s.

Another interesting point he brought up was the difference between songs of birds from Pennsylvania and New York. I asked a question about how this affects mating, and Steve said that birds in Pennsylvania won’t even recognize the songs of birds from New York. This led me to think about how the Biological Species Concept is applied. If females won’t pick up the courtship songs of males, when are the regional birds considered different species?

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