With my interests in animal behaviour and conservation biology, I completed my BSc in Zoology and Physiology at Massey University in Palmerston North. My interests in birds then led me to undertake my MSc in conservation biology at Massey University in Albany, with Prof Dianne Brunton as my supervisor. My project focused on resource partitioning between the hihi (Notiomystis cincta) and New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura). During this research, I became familiar with the song of bellbirds and fascinated by the complexity and differences in song between males and females. This led me to taking on my PhD project with Dianne.

My PhD and current research focusses on the ontogeny, structure and production of female birdsong within the context of the life history of female songbirds to establish the groundwork needed to understand the function and evolution of birdsong. This research aims to shed light on how female song fits within the male songbird literature. For example, I have found female New Zealand bellbirds develop their sexually unique songs within a similar timeframe to males, but how the structure of their song develops differs. My research is also looking at how the structure of the song of this species differs between the sexes over time, as well as how their vocal organ structure differs to the relatively few species studied so far. This work aims to reveal how sexual variation in birdsong may evolve under different selection pressures and whether the structure of the vocal organ may limit the diversification of their songs. My research also includes studying avian life history traits and applying this knowledge to look for associations between life history and behavioural traits.

My future research aims to continue exploring the relationship between animal behaviour and life history traits, with a focus on animal communication. I will continue researching female birdsong and explore the evolutionary mechanisms driving the diversification of birdsong. Birdsong is not only diverse between species, but also between sexes. Why differences in sexual dimorphism in song occurs between species is a question I intend to study using phylogenetic comparative analyses based on a variety of life history, ecological and morphological traits (including the syrinx, brain and hormones).