April 17, 2014  

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Southern Miss Doctoral Student Receives Smithsonian Fellowship

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Southern Miss graduate student Emily Cohen has been awarded a two-year Smithsonian Fellowship. (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

University of Southern Mississippi doctoral student Emily Cohen has parlayed her curiosity about nature and affinity for birds into a research fellowship with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C.

Cohen, who is scheduled to graduate in December, will begin her post-doctoral Smithsonian fellowship in January. As part of the two-year research position, Cohen will participate in the Migratory Connectivity Project, an initiative to conduct comprehensive life cycle analyses for migratory wildlife.

“I am really excited about this position. I will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with an exceptional group of scientists doing research that is timely and important for the conservation of migratory songbirds,” said Cohen, a Nashville, Tenn., native. “The project will allow me to build on the work I have been doing with Frank Moore and the Migratory Bird Research group in the Department of Biological Sciences at USM while gaining new skills toward my future research goals.”

For her dissertation research, Cohen studied the movement ecology of an intercontinental migrant in relation to exogenous and endogenous factors during spring migration.

“Using the empirical results of field experiments as a set of behavioral rules, we built an individual-based model to assess how the abundance and distribution of hardwood habitat in the U.S. Southeastern Coastal Plain landscapes influences migrant movement and refueling during spring migration,” said Cohen.

Moore, a distinguished professor at Southern Miss and a leading expert on bird behavior and migration, considers Cohen more of a colleague than a student.

“Emily has combined a strong work ethic with sharp analytical skills and a creative imagination to do exciting science on the biology of migratory birds,” said Moore. “She will take full advantage of the Smithsonian Fellowship, a wonderful opportunity that attests to her bright future as a scientist and says much about the graduate program in biological sciences here at Southern Miss.”

Cohen earned her undergraduate degree in ecology and environmental biology from Appalachian State University. She obtained her master’s degree in zoology at Michigan State University.

For more information about Cohen’s Smithsonian project visit: www.migratoryconnectivityproject.org/ and www.nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/.

To learn more about the Migratory Bird Research group at Southern Miss visit: www.usm.edu/mbrg/index.html.