Sabrina McNew

Postdoctoral Fellow


Disease Ecology • Evolution • Tropical Biology

I am a postdoc interested in the ways in which parasites and pathogens can affect the behavior, fitness, and ultimately, the evolution of their hosts. During my graduate work at the University of Utah, I studied the effects of an introduced parasitic fly, Philornis downsi, on Galápagos Mockingbirds. Relatively recent parasite introductions to island systems, such as P. downsi in the Galápagos, provide an opportunity to understand how naive hosts respond to emerging threats.

As a Rose Postdoctoral Fellow, I am incorporating genomic approaches to continue studying the effects of introduced parasites on Galápagos birds. In particular, I am interested in the molecular basis of susceptibility to avian pox in Galápagos finches. By investigating the genetic and epigenetic correlates of avian pox infections, I hope to learn more about host defense and mechanisms that underlie rapid evolutionary responses to a changing environment.

I love Neotropical fieldwork and being involved in the communities where I work. I conduct my research in collaboration with the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galápagos National Park. With the help of these collaborators, I have developed outreach projects with the goal of expanding knowledge about invasive parasites in the Galápagos and techniques used to combat them. I hope to continue these projects, as well as incorporate other environmental education programs into my work at the Cornell Lab.


Ph.D., University of Utah

Recent Publications

McNew, S. M., L. N. Barrow, J. L. Williamson, S. C. Galen, H. R. Skeen, S. G. DuBay, A. M. Gaffney, A. B. Johnson, E. Bautista, P. Ordoñez, C. J. Schmitt, et al. (2021). Contrasting drivers of diversity in hosts and parasites across the tropical Andes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118:e2010714118.
McNew, S. M., M. T. Boquete, S. Espinoza‐Ulloa, J. A. Andres, N. C. A. M. Wagemaker, S. A. Knutie, C. L. Richards, and D. H. Clayton (2021). Epigenetic effects of parasites and pesticides on captive and wild nestling birds. Ecology and Evolution 11:7713–7729.
McNew, S. M., S. A. Knutie, and D. H. Clayton (2020). No evidence of sex ratio manipulation by Galápagos Mockingbirds in response to environment. Journal of Avian Biology 51:jav.02302.
McNew, S. M., G. B. Goodman, J. Yépez R, and D. H. Clayton (2020). Parasitism by an invasive nest fly reduces future reproduction in Galápagos Mockingbirds. Oecologia 192:363–374.
Barrow, L. N., S. M. McNew, N. Mitchell, S. C. Galen, H. L. Lutz, H. Skeen, T. Valqui, J. D. Weckstein, and C. C. Witt (2019). Deeply conserved susceptibility in a multi‐host, multi‐parasite system. Ecology Letters:ele.13263.
McNew, S. M., S. A. Knutie, G. B. Goodman, A. Theodosopoulos, A. Saulsberry, J. Yépez R., S. E. Bush, and D. H. Clayton (2019). Annual environmental variation influences host tolerance to parasites. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286:20190049.
Sabrina McNew
Center Biodiversity Studies & Higher Education
Website Website

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