Katie Stryjewski

Katie Stryjewski

Katie Stryjewski

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in adaptation and speciation in birds, and in pinpointing the genomic changes underlying these processes.

My current research is focused on the evolution of the avian retina. The varied lifestyles of birds have led to the development of a number of unique retinal adaptations. One of the most remarkable is the presence of two foveas in many aerial hunters. The fovea is a small pit in the retina that is responsible for high-acuity vision. A number of birds, including raptors, kingfishers, swifts, swallows, and hummingbirds, have a second fovea located in the temporal part of their eyes that is used for binocular vision. Other species, particularly in the Galliformes, do not have foveas. This trait has been gained and lost multiple times in birds, but this has never been studied in a phylogenetic context. My goal is to combine existing data on retinal morphology along with new data collected from museum specimens to map the evolution of the fovea and other retinal traits onto the avian tree, and to investigate how retinal morphology is correlated with morphological and behavioral traits such as eye position, plumage coloration, aerial hunting, ground foraging, diving, and nocturnality.



I earned my undergraduate degree in Biology at Louisiana State University in 2007, where I worked with Robb Brumfield on examining the genetics of a hybrid zone between two species of Jamaican Streamertail hummingbirds. I completed my PhD with Michael Sorenson at Boston University in 2015. My graduate work focused on investigating the genomics of speciation in an extraordinarily recent and rapid radiation of finches in the genus Lonchura. I spent several months doing fieldwork in Papua New Guinea and Australia.



Toews DPL, Campagna L, Taylor SA, Balakrishan CN, Baldassarre DT, Deane-Coe PE, Harvey MG, Hooper DM, Irwin DE, Judy CD, Mason NA, McCormack JE, McCracken KG, Oliveros CH, Safran RJ, Scordato E, Stryjewski KFTigano A, Uy AJ, Winger B. Genomic approaches to understanding population divergence and speciation in birds. The Auk: Ornithological Advances. 2015; 133 (1): 13-30.

Stryjewski, K.F. Another Tenderfoot. Natural History Magazine. 2013; 121(1): 48.

Spottiswoode CN, Stryjewski KF, Quader S, Colebrook-Robjent JFR, Sorenson MD. Ancient host-specificity within a single lineage of brook parasitic bird. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2011; 108 (43): 17738-17742.

Lance SL, Hagen C, Glenn TC, Brumfield RT, Stryjewski KF, Graves GR. Fifteen polymorphic microsatellite loci from Jamaican Streamertail hummingbirds (Trochilus). Conservation Genetics. 2009; 10 (4): 1195-1198.

Duvernell DD, Lindemeier JB, Faust KEWhitehead A. Relative influences of historical and contemporary forces shaping the distribution of genetic variation in the Atlantic killifish Fundulus heteroclitusMolecular Ecology. 2008; 17 (5): 1344-1360.



Mycoplasma media culture in the lab

Contact Information

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology & Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

p: 617-496-8387