News Round-Up

Study reveals gender bias in bird song research and impact of women on science


A revolutionary group of scientists has been rethinking for two decades how we understand bird song, with women leading the way. Several of these scientists are from UMBC, and their latest research has revealed findings not just about birds, but about bird researchers.

Elaborate bird song had been considered mostly a male trait for centuries, famously discussed by Charles Darwin. But Karan Odom, Ph.D. ’16, biological sciences, published a landmark paper on female bird song in 2014 that helped change that viewpoint. Odom’s study found that as many as 70 percent of female birds sing. Her extensive research also established firmly that both sexes almost certainly sang in the common ancestor of all bird species—a radical idea in ornithology. MORE

Header image: Karan Odom, PhD ’16, with a Troupial Oriole, a species where both sexes sing. Credit: Kevin Omland.