Person measuring bird specimen

Shanta Hejmadi

Research Q & A

What’s your hometown?

I grew up in Colorado Springs, CO, but I have lived in Minnesota for 20 years.

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

I was a volunteer bird-bander in Colorado as a teenager. I was hooked from the moment I held a little Lesser Goldfinch in my hand. I always knew that if I pursued science I’d study birds in some way.

What are you currently working on?

I am studying the morphological evolution and community ecology of diurnal raptors (hawks, falcons, eagles, etc.). My 2021 award allowed me to provide research assistantships to 2 undergraduate students, who have also been working on UROPs and Directed research projects that are related to my research.

How are you working toward that goal?

My amazing undergrads, June and Sophie, landmarked over 600 scans this summer!

Where are you working on research/field work?

I’m nearly done, but my “field” work is in museums. The species I study (birds of prey) are often protected, so the only place I can find specimens is in museums. Additionally, these species occur all over the world – If I want to sample globally, museums are where I can do it! I have taken morphometric data from specimens at the American Museum of Natural History (New York City), The Field Museum (Chicago) and the Bell Museum.

What will your next steps/research be?

LOL, just writing my dissertation.  Seriously though, I have a little bit more data to collect, and then it’s just analysis and writing!

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

It’s never too late to pursue your dream career! I took 15 gap years (and had a career in HR and a family) before grad school.


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