Person standing looking up and smiling next to bird collection tray

Shanta Hejmadi

Research Q & A

What’s your hometown?

Colorado Springs, Colorado, but I’ve lived in Minneapolis for almost 20 years.

What are you currently working on?

My current funding is earmarked for sequencing DNA from museum specimens to infer a complete phylogeny of all raptors.

How did you get started/what drew you to your area of study?

I love birds. What more is there to say?! I’m only sort of kidding. I grew up bird watching with my dad and volunteering with bird banding scientists. When I came to grad school, I was interested in the intersection of ecology and evolution and using museum specimens to answer questions about the global biodiversity of raptors, or birds of prey.

How are you working towards that goals?

COVID-19 has made it tough. A lot of the museums from which I’d get tissue loans have been closed and some show no signs of opening any time soon. But as soon as they do, I’ll be sending out those loan requests!

Why are you focusing your work in that area?

I love that my research allows me to study many different species. I also know that the better we understand the Earth’s biodiversity, the better equipped we will be to respond to rapid global change. Also, raptors are big and charismatic creatures, so they’re really fun to work with.


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