Jordan Karubian


CV February 2018 | Google Scholar Profile

Phone: (504) 865-5549

Office: Israel 306

Mail: 6823 Saint Charles Avenue
         Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
         400 Lindy Boggs Center
         New Orleans, LA 70118-5698



Graduate Students


Zoe Diaz-Martin, Ph.D. Candidate



My research seeks to understand how ecological mechanisms, such as biotic and abiotic interactions, shape patterns of genetic diversity in tropical trees. Specifically, I investigate how dispersal mutualisms and the local environment influence evolutionary processes such as gene flow and adaptation that impact genetic variation and diversity within and across populations. I use molecular genetic techniques to explore these questions in Oenocarpus bataua in Ecuador. Understanding the drivers of genetic diversity and variation in this study system provides important insight into how tropical trees may be impacted by a changing climate and ongoing deforestation. Finally, through the NGO Fundación para la Conservación de los Andes Tropicales, I am involved with a community-based conservation effort in north western Ecuador, Refugio del Gavilan. Check out our website for more information!


Sarah Khalil, Ph.D. Student


I am interested in exploring what controls variation in carotenoid-based plumage of red-backed fairywrens (Malurus melanocephalus) within and between populations. My research focuses on taking an integrative approach to study the evolution of visual sexual signals in fairy-wrens by exploring the endocrine, genomic, and transcriptomic mechanisms of signal production. Previously, I studied breeding behavior of superb starlings in Kenya through Dr. Rubenstein’s lab at Columbia University.


John Jones, Ph.D. Student



My research focuses on determining the adaptive significance of mechanic underpinnings of phenotypic divergence in female fairywrens of Papua New Guinea and in flexible expression of ornamentation in male fairywrens in Australia. My main research interests lie in the interplay between behavioural endocrinology and the evolution of animal signals (i.e., color and birdsong). My previous research at Appalachian State University focused on chestnut-sided and golden-winged warbler interspecific aggression and misidentification as well as eastern bluebird/tree swallow interspecific competition.


Kaushik Narasimhan, Ph.D. Student


I am interested in the forest dynamics of neotropical forests, particularly in survival advantage afforded to rare genotypic individuals. My research aims to elucidate the proximate mechanisms of this advantage, including plant-macrobiotic interactions, immunological response and expression of immunological gene complexes, as well as the relative influences of other biotic and abiotic factors. For my Masters, I studied the community ecology of bats in the Peruvian Amazon in Dr. Liz Willey’s lab at Antioch University.


Annelise Blanchette, Ph.D. Student


I am broadly interested in animal behavior, ecotoxicology, and urban ecology. I am studying how environmental lead may impact the northern mockingbird here in New Orleans behaviorally, morphologically, and genetically. I am also interested in studying how the Anolis lizards that live here in the city may be affected by environmental lead. For my Masters, I studied the antipredator behaviors of aposematic and cryptic frogs in Costa Rica out of Dr. Ralph Saporito’s lab at John Carroll University.


Mike Ellis, Ph.D. Student


My research interests revolve around tropical ecology and evolution, primarily in western Ecuador where I have been serving as the Director of Research for Third Millennium Alliance (TMA), a conservation non-profit, since 2016. I’m most passionate about studying and conserving tropical avifauna. That passion led me to establish the Jama-Coaque Bird Observatory in northwestern Ecuador – a branch of TMA focused on advancing Ecuadorian ornithology, forest conservation, environmental education and community outreach. My dissertation research draws from data collected by both TMA and Fundación para la Conservación de los Andes Tropicales (FCAT) and will focus on anthropogenic and environmental drivers of avian abundance, diversity, turnover, extirpation and adaptation in a fragmented landscape.


Luke Anderson, Ph.D. Student


I am a first-year PhD student interested in signal evolution and sexual selection. My research focuses on the manakins (Pipridae), a family of charismatic Neotropical birds best known for the elaborate displays and striking plumage often observed in males. However, the males of some manakin species in the genera Lepidothrix and Cryptopipo exhibit reduced or absent sexual dimorphism, raising the question of how these losses occur in the context of a runaway selection mating system. I plan to integrate genomic, hormonal, and behavioral approaches to gain insight into the mechanisms and drivers of signal evolution in Pipridae. Previously, I studied brown-headed cowbird courtship behavior at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Marc Schmidt.


Caitlin McCormick, M.S. Student


I am 4+1 Master’s student who graduated from Tulane with a degree in Environmental Biology in May 2019. Broadly speaking, I’m interested in animal behavior and tropical ecology. More specifically, my research focuses on Cephalopterus penduliger, the Long-wattled umbrellabird, and the behavior that can be observed at lek sites vs. non lek sites. I’m also exploring questions related to their nesting biology, and patterns of sociality and group foraging. Additionally, I’m working on developing middle school curriculum and programming for the Audubon Nature Institute. I am passionate about community engagement, education, and conservation and am excited to continue my work in these areas this academic year!


Wendy Deng, M.S. Student


I am a Plus One Master student interested in studying the genetic basis of behavior in birds. I love birdwatching and wildlife photography.




Margaux Armfield, Honors Thesis


I’m a senior at Tulane University, studying environmental biology and computer science. I joined the Karubian lab in 2018 as an International Research Experience for Students (IRES) fellow, investigating carry-over effects in red-backed fairywrens. I am currently working on an Honors Thesis, which aims to use a social network approach to investigate pollen dispersal in a tropical palm species. After graduating from Tulane, I plan to work in software development and data analysis for a year, before ultimately pursuing a graduate program in computational biology or evolutionary biology. I am interested in using computational ecology and environmental modeling as tools to identify effective conservation strategies. In my free time, I enjoy outdoors activities, painting, tennis, and reading.


Eleanor Casement, Honors Thesis


I am a sophomore studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology. My honors thesis focuses on the survivorship of seeds dispersed by different species of manakin birds in Ecuador. I will be spending my junior year abroad, first in Panama and then in Australia, where I plan to continue studying different aspects of tropical ecology. I am interested in marine and tropical symbioses, and would ultimately like to pursue these topics in graduate school. Outside of school, I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, backpacking, and scuba diving.


Nathalie Clarke, IRES fellow


I was born in Philadelphia, raised in both Paris and Narbonne, France, and now attend Tulane University. I am pursuing a double major in Environmental Biology (EBIO) and Anthropology. In addition to course work, I currently tutors French and hold lab assistant positions in the EBIO department and work at the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. I am interested in community ecology, behavioral ecology, and tri-trophic symbioses. I plan on studying red-backed fairywren auxiliary males responses to predation risk over the course of the non-breeding season, and how molt date influences behavior.


Caroline Camus, Honors Thesis


I am a junior studying Environmental Biology, hoping to pursue the 4+1 Masters Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Eventually, I would like to attend law school with a focus in environmental policy! For my senior thesis, I am conducting a pilot study to evaluate the prevalence of lead intoxication on dogs and cats living here in New Orleans. I am hopeful that we can make NOLA a safer place for all. In addition to my studies within the department, I am a Newcomb Scholar, TIDES Peer Mentor, and an intern at Children’s Hospital.


Morgan Furlong, Independent Study


I am a senior double majoring in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Public Health. My independent project involves genomic lab work and microstatellite analysis to calculate rates of extra-pair paternity in White Shouldered Fairywrens. I am currently working on expanding adult and nestling sample size through a joint project with the School of Biological Sciences at WSU. Long term research interests include studying the evolution of STIs, space medicine, conservation genetics, and pathogen-host co-evolution. I am passionate about statistics and ecological modeling and hope to work as a biostatistician or disease ecologist.


Kyu Min Huh, Honors Thesis


I graduated from Tulane with a double major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Philosophy, with a minor in Mathematics, and I’m originally from South Korea. My Honors Thesis focused on the hummingbird diversity and richness response to forest fragments in Ecuador. I studied abroad in Ecuador in the Spring of 2018. During my years of undergraduate study, I interned in the Center for Conservation Genomics in the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute for the non-invasive genomic sampling of Jamaican songbirds, and the University of Montana Flight Laboratory with Dr. Tobalske to study the sexual difference in escape flight in Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope).


Sarah Lueder, Honors Thesis


I am a senior majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and minoring in Africana Studies. Last summer I was able to join the FCAT team to collect data that I am now incorporating into an honors thesis. This focuses on what governs palm communities in a mixture of habitat types ranging from pristine forests through to agricultural and pasture lands. After graduating, I plan to pursue a masters degree in ecology & evolutionary biology.


Zachary Ripich, Honors Thesis


I am a junior double majoring in Environmental Biology and Public Health. I am most interested in arthropods and infectious disease, with a focus on vector-borne diseases and disease ecology. The summer before my junior year, I sampled and modeled tick distribution and the associated burden of Rickettsia illness in Machala, Ecuador. For my Honors Thesis, I plan on investigating the role of macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of riverine water quality in the Mache-Chindul Reserve under the mentorship of Dr. Karubian and biologists at FCAT. After graduation, I plan on attending a graduate program in ecology & evolutionary biology or vector biology


Erin Sheehy, Honors Thesis


I am a junior majoring in Environmental Biology and Environmental Studies. I studied abroad in Tropical North Queensland, Australia the Fall of 2019, where I studied Great Bowerbirds, and practiced sea turtle husbandry. My sophomore year, I assisted Kaushik Narasimhan with assessing camera trap footage taken in Ecuador to study tropical palm seed dispersal. I’m interested in behavioral ecology, tropical ecology, and conservation. I plan on continuing my work in the Karubian lab in Ecuador this summer, where I will be studying manakin behavior. I will be using this research as the basis for my honors thesis. Ultimately, I’d love to attend graduate school and conduct research focused on ecosystem interactions and conservation efforts.


Melanie Smith, Honors Thesis


I am a junior studying ecology & evolutionary biology with minors in marine biology and chemistry. My research interests include animal behavior and bioacoustics, especially with regard to marine mammals and birds. Currently, I am working on my Honors Thesis to study how road noise impacts the courtship displays of the white-bearded manakin (Manacus manacus) in Ecuador. After Tulane, I hope to attend a graduate program in ecology & evolutionary biology or a related field. Outside of the lab, I also volunteer with the Audubon Zoo Sea Lion Department.


Lab affiliates


Tadeo Ramirez Prada

I am broadly interested in the patterns and drivers of life cycle events in flowering plants, and their consequences for demography, community composition, and ecosystem-level processes. My current research employs long-term phenological records to assess the drivers of reproductive synchrony and its consequences for reproductive success in Oenocarpus bataua, a hyperdominant canopy palm of the Chocó. Concurrently, I have employed seed trap records to assess the role of a dominant avian frugivore (Cephalopterus penduliger) in shaping patterns of α-diversity among dispersed seeds in this biodiversity hotspot.


Lorena Torres Martinez, Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist that is interested in studying the evolutionary potential of plant species to respond to projected climate change conditions. Specifically, I seek to understand how gene flow can shape the main source for adaptive potential to occur in response to new environmental conditions: the amount and distribution of genetic variation throughout species ranges. Currently, I am the Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary biology at Tulane University, in which I am designing and teaching two courses per year for graduate and senior undergraduate students -Plant Biology and adaptation (Fall semester) and Genomics and bioinformatics (Spring semester). In the Jordan Lab, I am working in collaboration with the PhD candidates Luke Brown and Zoe Diaz in understanding the fine-scale genetic structure of Oeonocarpus bataua, a native palm species to the tropical rainforest.


Olivia and Joaquin Karubian, Field operations

Olivia has a strong interest in fairy x princess reaction norms, and candy. Joaquin’s research focuses on dirt.


Lab Alumni



Ph.D. Students and Postdocs

Brock Geary (Ph.D., 2012-2018)
Erik Enbody (Ph.D., 2012-2018)
Luke Brown (Ph.D., 2011-2017)
Samantha Lantz (Ph.D., 2011-2017)
Jenny Hazelhurst (Ph.D., 2010-2016)
Scott Walter (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2012-2014)
Kym Ottewell (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2012)


Master’s Students

Akhila Gopal (+1 MS, 2018 – 2019)
AJ Pate (+1 MS, 2018 – 2019)
Rachel Cook (+1 MS, 2018 – 2019)
Jiawen Liu (+1 MS, 2018 – 2019)
Emily Nonamaker (4+1 MS, 2016 – 2017)
Meredith Williams (4+1 MS, 2016 – 2017)
Nicole Moody (4+1 MS, 2014 – 2016)
Erik Iverson (4+1 MS, 2015 – 2016)
Roxanne Franta (4+1 MS, 2014-15)
Malinda Chambers (4+1 MS, 2014-15)
Nathan Frumkin (4+1 MS, 2014-15)
Roxanne Franta (4+1 MS, 2013-14)
Tessa Roorda (MS, 2010 – 2011)


Undergraduate Students

Lauren Hitt (Honors Thesis, 2019)
Shayna Ross (Honors Thesis, 2019)
Samuel Leberg (Honors Thesis, 2018)
Trey Hendrix (Honors Thesis and NSF IRES fellow, 2018)
Toni Brown (NSF IRES fellow, 2017)
Darcy Gray (NSF IRES fellow, 2016)
Emma Saltzberg (Honors Thesis, 2016)
Michael Mahoney (Honors Thesis, 2016)
Miles Dawkins (Independent Study, 2016)
Erik Iverson (Honors Thesis, 2015)
Alex Gulachenski (NSF IRES fellow, 2014)
Nathan Frumkin (Honors Thesis, 2014)
Mitch Hinton (Honors Thesis, 2013)
Johnny Blanchard (Honors Thesis, 2013)
Kathleen Riley (NSF IRES fellow, 2012)