Professional and Biographical Information


Visit Clotfelter Lab for more information about my research and teaching


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (1998)
M.S., University of Wisconsin (1994)
B.A., University of North Carolina (1991) 

Courses Taught

Biology 181: Adaptation and the Organism
Biology 264 and 265: Form and Function
Biology 280 and 281: Animal Behavior
Biology 454: Tropical Biology

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in life-history tradeoffs and how animals respond to environmental challenges. One of the ongoing projects in my research program has been on tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor), which my students and I have studied in the Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary since 2004. Our early studies focused on age- and condition-related reproductive decisions by female swallows, particularly in the context of incubation. More recently, we have investigated the effects of hematophagous ectoparasites on the development and fledging success of juvenile swallows. In 2008, I started another project on tradeoffs in carotenoid allocation in convict cichlid fish (Amatitlania nigrofasciata and A. siquia). These species exhibit reverse sexual dichromatism; females display carotenoid-based ventral coloration that males lack. Previously we have investigated the role of these carotenoid pigments in enhancing offspring survival, antioxidant defense, and protection against pathogenic bacteria. We are currently examining the role of visual sensitivity in mediating genetic differentiation and possibly sympatric speciation. Finally, my students and I are also studying the biomechanics of swimming, and the trade-offs between swimming performance and claw size, in Faxonius crayfish. 

Selected Publications