Miyoko Chu

Senior Director, Communications

Expertise

Science Journalism • Digital Communications • Engaging Online Communities

I collaborate with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s staff, partners, and supporters to raise awareness of the Lab’s mission and to grow the communities who join us to learn about birds and nature, advance science, and protect the natural world.

I grew up in an urban area where I didn’t encounter many birds, but I raised pigeons that my dad had helped me rescue from a poultry truck in Chinatown. I became hooked on birds while watching the pigeons court, mate, and raise their young in the backyard coop we built. I later went on to study birds in the wild as a field assistant studying Cliff Swallows in Nebraska and coastal sagebrush birds at Point Blue’s Palomarin station in California. I earned a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley studying the behavioral ecology of Phainopeplas in the desert and riparian woodlands of California.

With a passion for writing, I also trained as a science journalist in the Science Communication graduate program at UC Santa Cruz and in news rooms at the Salinas Californian and Oakland Tribune. I came to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2001. Every day since then I have loved working with teams at the intersection of ornithology and science communication, creating and delivering content through platforms such as our All About Birds website, Merlin Bird ID app, Bird Cams, and Living Bird magazine.

Education

Ph.D., Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Graduate Certificate, Science Communication, University of California, Santa Cruz
B.A., Organismal Biology, Yale University

Favorite Encounters

I enjoy watching birds not only because they are so rewarding to observe, but also because they have led me to so many beautiful places and opened up the way to encounters with all kinds of wildlife. While watching for Phainopeplas in a canyon in California, I saw a mountain lion and two cubs who continued on their way as if they didn’t notice me, although I’m sure they did. After seeing Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers and Silvery-throated Jays in the mountains of Costa Rica, my husband and I came face to face with a puma on the trail. It seemed just as surprised as we were. We took a long look at each other before it disappeared into the brush.

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Red-winged Blackbird photo by Ron Riley/Macaulay Library