Speaker Bios


Invited Speakers:


Opening Talk – David Hillis

David M. Hillis is the Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor in Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies molecular evolution and biodiversity in the Department of Integrative Biology. He is the Director of UT’s Biodiversity Center, and also directs the Dean’s Scholars Program of the College of Natural Sciences. He has enthusiastically taught about and studied Natural History for the past three decades at the University of Texas, and before that at the University of Miami. He also teaches courses in introductory biology, genetics, evolution, biological systematics, and biodiversity.

Hillis is recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His publications include some 200 scientific research papers about organisms across the Tree of Life, as well as several books on evolution and biodiversity.



Closing Talk – Ray Huey

Raymond B. Huey (A.B. Honors in Zoology, UC Berkeley, 1966; M.A. Zoology, U Texas Austin, 1969; Ph.D. Biology, Harvard U., 1975), Professor Emeritus and Chair Emeritus of the Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle. The Natural History of the Vertebrates course saved him from pursuing what would have been an unhappy career in medicine.

His main biological research interests have included the evolutionary physiology of ectotherms, evolution of thermal sensitivity and stress resistance, rates and predictability of evolution in introduced species, the adaptive significance of phenotypic plasticity, epidemiology of Himalayan mountaineers, behavioral ecology, and paleophysiology.  His current work focuses on vulnerability of tropical and desert ectotherms to climate warming. He has done field in Peru, Chile, the Kalahari Desert, Australia, western North America, Europe, and Texas.

Huey’s major honors have included Miller Research Fellow, President of the American Society of Naturalists, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, election to the Washington State Academy of Scientists, a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Ecological Society of America Fellowship.





After Dinner Speaker – Harry Greene


Harry Greene graduated from Texas Wesleyan in 1968, served three years as an army medic, then earned a M.A. from University of Texas at Arlington and Ph.D. from University of Tennessee.

He was a professor and curator in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology for two decades before moving to Cornell, where he is now professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology. He’s taught vertebrate natural history, herpetology, introductory biology, evolution and biodiversity, and field ecology, while studying vertebrate biology and conservation.

Harry’s honors include U. C. Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the Edward O. Wilson Naturalist Award, president of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and Cornell’s Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship.

In 2014, Business Insider named him one of Cornell’s “Top Ten Professors” and he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature, won a PEN Literary Award, garnered a two-page spread in Time magazine, and made the New York Times’  annual list of 100 Most Notable Books.




Sarah Allen

Sarah G. Allen has worked at the National Park Service in the Pacific West Region in several positions for the past 24 years, first as an ecologist and currently as the Science Program Lead for the region.  Her studies over 35 years (first as a student at UCB, then at Point Reyes Bird Observatory, and later at NPS) have focused on wildlife and marine conservation, particularly with marine birds and mammals.

She has authored and co-authored numerous publications, including the Field guide to the Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast: Baja, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia. UC Press, California Natural History Guide Series.

She received her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Her office is now in 133 Mulford Hall and encourages you all to visit.




Rachel Freiberg

Rachel Freiberg is the clinical trial manager for the department of Radiation Oncology at the Stanford University Cancer Center. She received her B.A. in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley in 1993 after which she assisted graduate students Albert Ditchfield and Meika Mustrangi, under the mentorship of Jim Patton, with their field work in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brasil. Upon returning to the United States she worked at Stanford University in the Department of Dermatology (now Cutaneous Biology) studying gene regulation in keratinocytes and fibroblasts in the lab of Dr. Paul Khavari.

She earned a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology in the lab of Dr. Amato Giaccia at Stanford University where her research focused on the effects of hypoxia and re-oxygenation on the DNA damage response pathway in the tumor setting. Following year of post-doctoral research on lung cancer models, she began work as a clinical trial coordinator in the department of radiation oncology at Stanford. As the current manager, she has been responsible for G.I. clinical trials focusing on pancreatic and liver cancers, overseeing more than 7 sites nationally and has developed the process for and opened the first investigator initiated international trials for cancer at Stanford.



Hopi Hoekstra

Hopi E. Hoekstra is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and the Molecular & Cellular Biology at Harvard University. She is also the Curator of Mammals in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, an Institute Member at the Broad Institute and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research focuses on uncovering the genetic basis of morphological and behavioral traits that affect fitness of individuals in the wild.

She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She has received Young Investigator awards from the American Society of Naturalists and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and most recently, the Lounsbery Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. In 2016, she was elected into the National Academy of Sciences and in 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hopi teaches in Harvard’s introductory Life Science course Genetics, Genomics and Evolution to approximately 500 freshmen each year, and has been awarded the Fannie Cox Prize and a Harvard College Professorship for teaching excellence.

During her senior year at Berkeley, she enrolled in IB 104 The Natural History of the Vertebrates, fell in love with fieldwork, and headed off to grad school (mentored by Scott Edwards, who TA’ed 104), then a postdoc (mentored by Michael Nachman, who took 104), and now at the Harvard Natural History Museum has several colleagues who took or taught in 104!



Greg McLaughlin

Greg McLaughlin is Senior Counsel with IBM’s CHQ Litigation Group where he is responsible for strategic management of a diverse global portfolio of complex commercial litigation, investigations, regulatory and white collar matters.  Previously, as a member of IBM’s GTS division, Greg negotiated and supported large, complex outsourcing transactions.  

Since 2011, Greg has also been an Adjunct Professor at Pace University Law School, teaching legal skills classes and mentoring the next generation of legal talent.  He is also founder and Principal of Repeat_Business, an internet-based luxury apparel reselling business, which has grown by over 10x in 5 years

Greg earned his JD, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, and earned a BA in Biology, with both University and departmental honors, from the University of California at Berkeley.  In addition, Greg attended the University of Oxford, Worcester College, for a one year non-degree course in biology.  Following law school Greg worked as an intellectual property litigation associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and a general litigation associate at Wiggin and Dana LLP.  Greg also clerked for Judge Michael Chertoff on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.



Hanna Shohfi

Hanna Shohfi has a B.A. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley and a M.S in Biology from UCLA. As an undergraduate, Hanna took IB 104 in the Spring of 2002, and began working for the MVZ shortly thereafter as a curatorial assistant in the mammal collection and as a research assistant with Jim Patton and Chris Conroy on the Grinnell Resurvey Project in Yosemite. Her undergraduate research on the molecular identification and phylogeny of shrews led to a publication identifying new records of several shrew species in California and extended their geographic ranges.

During Hanna’s graduate study at UCLA in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, she discovered her passion for teaching biology and thus began her teaching career at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles in 2006. At Archer, Hanna developed and continues to coordinate and teach the Girls RISE (Research in Science and Engineering) program, an innovative high school scientific research curriculum through which students learn to utilize cutting edge technology to design and implement original research in molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or engineering. Archer students, along with other female high school students across Los Angeles, are invited to present their research findings at the school’s annual Student STEM Symposium.




Anand Varma

Anand Varma is a freelance photographer and videographer who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.  He started photographing natural history subjects while studying integrative biology at UC Berkeley.  His work tells the story behind the science on everything from primate behavior and hummingbird biomechanics to amphibian disease and forest ecology.  He spent several years assisting other photographers before receiving a National Geographic Young Explorer grant to document the wetlands of Patagonia.  He has since become a regular contributor to National Geographic and his first feature story, called “Mindsuckers”, was published on the November 2014 cover of the magazine.  Anand lives in Berkeley.







Contributed Talks:


Rauri Bowie

Rauri Bowie obtained his Ph.D. in 2003 and is at present the Faculty Curator of Birds in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. He has published over 130 publications, received UC Berkeley’s most prestigious teaching award, and is a fellow of the Californian Academy of Sciences. Rauri has co-taught ‘Natural History of the Vertebrates’ for the past 10 years. During his talk, he will outline some of the history of the course, and provide perspective on how and why the course is taught today.

The major thrust of his research is centered on understanding how montane bird faunas have assembled over time. In order to better understand processes underlying patterns of diversification, his research takes a hierarchical approach, combining phylogenetic with population genetic and phylogeographic (spatial patterns of genetic diversity) methodologies. Rauri maintains an active field program having conducted fieldwork in Africa, Central America, the Western United States, and Indonesia. He has served as an Editor of IBIS since 2006.



Christopher Clark

Chris Clark taught himself to birdwatch when growing up in Seattle. He then earned a BS at Washington State University, followed by a Ph.D. on hummingbird flight in the MVZ in 2009. After a postdoc at Yale, he then joined the faculty at UC Riverside as an assistant professor of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. His current research program focuses on hummingbird courtship displays, and the sounds animals make with their wings and tail as they fly (especially during courtship displays). 

Chris was lucky enough to serve as TA for IB 104 in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, and now has the pleasure of teaching vertebrate natural history at UCR. 




Laura Cunningham

Laura Cunningham has a Bachelor’s degree in paleontology from the University of California at Berkeley, where she also studied zoology, botany, herpetology, and natural resource management. She took Natural History of the Vertebrates around 1986. Later she undertook graduate study at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Science Communication. Laura then worked as a field biologist for US Geological Survey–Biological Resources Division on amphibian declines in the Sierra Nevada; California Department of Fish and Wildlife with desert fishes; and California State University, Dominguez Hills as project manager for a Panamint alligator lizard research study with the late Dr. David Morafka. She has surveyed extensively for fringe-toed lizards. She also worked as a contract tortoise biologist translocationg tortoises and monitoring large-scale development projects in the California Desert. In 2010 she published the book A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday), and then a children’s book The Bay Area Through Time (Heyday 2015). She is a self-taught artist specializing in field sketching and oil painting, and enjoys hiking and living on a small Nevada ranch with her husband Kevin. See her blog. Currently she is Executive Director of a conservation 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the biodiversity and landscapes of the deserts of California and Nevada, Basin and Range Watch.







Tanya Anne Dewey

Tanya Dewey is the Director of the Animal Diversity Web and an Educator and Research Scientist at Colorado State University. She is interested in improving access to authentic, data-driven inquiry in biology classrooms and how it impacts student engagement and learning gains. As a QUBES Mentor, she also works with faculty to improve the integration of quantitative skills in their undergraduate classrooms. 
Her undergraduate degree is in Integrative Biology from the University of California Berkeley and she received a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan. In both places her studies were in a museum collection context, leading to a passion for the importance of natural history research collections in science and education.
She studies phylogeographic patterns and species delimitation in North American Myotis bats. In particular, the Myotis lucifugus/long-eared Myotis group, which represents a recent, rapid radiation into a variety of ecological roles. This group of species will be impacted by white-nose syndrome in the coming years, an imminent threat to the unique, fragmented populations of the western landscape. She is also involved in research on the spatial ecology of other North American bats, including hoary batsbig brown bats, and lesser long-nosed bats.



Anna Hiller

Anna E. Hiller is a second year PhD student and Board of Regents Fellow at Louisiana State University (LSU). She works in the LSU Museum of Natural Sciences, the third-largest university-based collection of birds in the world (behind MCZ at Harvard and MVZ at Berkeley). Her graduate research focuses on the evolutionary history of birds in the Andes, looking at leapfrog patterns of plumage variation and high elevation hybrid zones.

Anna took IB 104 in 2014 and as an undergraduate worked for every single division within the MVZ. But, thanks in part to IB 104 (I was always carrying around a bird guide no matter what group we were supposed to be looking for) she eventually settled on her love of birds. She received her B.S. in Environmental Sciences from UC Berkeley in 2014 and remained at the MVZ for another year and a half as a staff curatorial assistant in the ornithology collection.

As a graduate student she took ornithology from J. Van Remsen, curator of birds at LSU, academic great-grandson of Joseph Grinnell, and IB 104 GSI from 1972-74 (back when it was still ZOOL 107). Sure enough one of the assignments included recording field notes in the Grinnell style, just like IB 104.




Claudia Luke

Since her early days as a student and TA for Natural History, Claudia Luke has spent 20 years directing field stations for the University of California and California State University. At Sonoma State University, she serves as Director for Center of Environmental Inquiry, managing three field stations (Fairfield Osborn Preserve, Galbreath Wildlands Preserve, and Los Guillicos Preserve) dedicated to infusing environmental understanding into the liberal arts and sciences. She works with community and business partners and collaborators to build regional research and management collaborations that create opportunities for students and faculty in all disciplines to study watershed management, habitat connectivity, habitat restoration, fire management, and environmental education.







Donald Miles

Donald B. Miles (A.B. Zoology, UC Berkeley, 1978, M.Phil. Biometry, University of Cambridge, Ph.D. 1985 University of Pennsylvania), Professor of Biological Sciences, Ohio University. He took the Natural History of the Vertebrates course in 1977 and also worked as an undergraduate volunteer in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. He credits the field experiences in Natural History of the Vertebrates and working in the MVZ with his decision to focus on vertebrate biology as a career.

His research interests include physiological and morphological diversification in vertebrates, evolution of alternative mating strategies, the interaction between natural and sexual selection in molding patterns of sexual size dimorphism, evolution of physiological performance in lizards, and life history evolution in vertebrates. His current project involves determining the response and extinction risk of ectothermic vertebrates to climate change. He also teaches Ornithology and Field Ecology at Ohio University. Both are structured following the format of Zoo 107.

His research program has focused on desert lizards and passerine bird species, but he has worked on arctic-breeding shorebirds, effects of modern forest management on wildlife species, mating system variation in rodents, and tropical lizards. He has conducted research in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Galapágos Ecuador, France, Namibia, South Africa, Spain, and throughout the southwestern US.

Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Donald_Miles

website: diapsida.org



David Ribble

David Ribble is starting his 25th year as a Professor of Biology at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California at Berkeley, where he enjoyed teaching Vertebrate Natural History many times.  His research explores the ecology and evolution of mammals, primarily smaller mammals, in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Africa. 

Nationally, Ribble is a Fellow for the Partnerships for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE), a national effort to reform life science education according to Vision and Change recommendations. He also serves as a Biology Councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).  He regularly conducts external reviews of Biology Departments at private undergraduate institutions around the country to help them design purposeful curriculum relevant to the 21st century.




Sacha Vignieri

Sacha Vignieri was a student in the Natural History of the Vertebrates course in 1992 with Jim Patton, Harry Greene, and Ned Johnson, where she not only learned about California natural history and the thrill of field-work, but that one could actually study animals for a living. It was transformational. She received her PhD in the Zoology department at the University of Washington, working with Jim Kenagy, and completed post-doctoral research at the University of Sussex and Harvard (working with another IB 104 grad, Hopi Hoekstra). She is now responsible for organismal biology at the journal Science, where she promotes as much natural history as the powers that be will let her.