Kathryn Grabenstein

Postdoctoral Fellow

I study hybridization in human contexts—specifically, when humans transform earth’s landscapes, creating conditions that cause co-occurring species to hybridize, when otherwise, they wouldn’t. As a Rose Postdoctoral Fellow, I combine field studies, museum specimens, eBird data, and genomics to investigate how human habitat disturbances drive hybridization in chickadees, and the evolutionary consequences of this hybridization.

For my dissertation work, I founded and directed the Boulder Chickadee Study as an experimental framework and citizen science network to study the natural histories of Colorado chickadees, and improve our understanding of how humans shape the evolution of backyard songbirds. I am continuing this work at the Cornell Lab by exploring historical hybridization in chickadees, using both museum specimens and eBird data to see how long hybridization has been occurring in Colorado chickadees, and if hybridization is influenced by human-driven changes in population demographies.

Collaborating with scientists, education & outreach specialists, and the public is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. I design projects that are integrated into local communities to make science, as a process, more approachable—a perk to studying chickadees that are common and widespread! I enjoy mentoring students to empower them to be independent thinkers, teaching in both indoor and outdoor classrooms, and sharing findings through many forms of media.


Ph.D., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
B.A, Biological Sciences, Cornell University

A woman stands in front of a red desert mountainous landscape
Center Biodiversity Studies & Higher Education
Email kcg37@cornell.edu

Join Our Email List

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. Sign up for email and don’t miss a thing!

Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library