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Lake Lincoln, Arkansas

Meet the members of the DuRant Lab!


Sarah DuRant, PhD; 479-575-6364

I completed my Master's in 2006 and PhD in 2011 at Virginia Tech, then spent two years as a post doc at Tufts University. For 3.5 years I was faculty at Oklahoma State before joining the Dept. of Biological Sciences at University of Arkansas. My research focuses on animal responses to environmental stimuli, with particular focus on parental effects, disease ecology, and environmental temperature.
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Erin Sauer, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow,;

I’m interested in understanding how changes host behavior after disease exposure impact disease outcomes. During my PhD at the University of South Florida, I studied the role of host thermoregulatory behavior in bolstering amphibian host resistance to two pathogens contributing to global population declines (Ranavirus and Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd). I am currently investigating how parental disease history impacts parental behavior and subsequent offspring immune phenotypes in the avian mycoplasmal conjunctivitis system.

View Erin's website here


Will Kirkpatrick

PhD student;

Will is a fervent Tennesee Vol's fan and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. His work focuses on temperature's role in shaping avian breeding behavior. Using a nest box system in Eastern Bluebird he's studying how  temperature variability shapes parental care behaviors. 

View Will's website here


Sarah Heissenberger

PhD student;

Sarah is a New Hampshire native who completed her undergraduate degree at Keene State College. In Fall 2022, she was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Sarah’s research focuses on the interactions between metabolism, stress, water availability, and social behavior in the common degu, a rodent native to central Chile.  Sarah is co-advised by ​Dr. Carolyn Bauer at Swarthmore University


Madeline Sudnick

MS student; 

Madeline completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University. Madeline's research investigates transmission dynamics in the he avian mycoplasmal conjunctivitis system.

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Chloe Connelly

Honors Undergraduate Researcher

Chloe is working on her honors thesis with Dr. Erin Sauer studying sex differential immunity in the avian mycoplasmal conjunctivitis system. She has also been involved in organizing the Bird Safe Glass Initiative at the University of Arkansas with Dr. Sauer. She plans to attend medical school in the Fall of 2023.

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Sakura Roberts

Honors Undergraduate Researcher

Sakura is working on her honors thesis with Dr. Erin Sauer studying the effects of disease history on maternal provisioning behavior in the avian mycoplasmal conjunctivitis system. She has also been involved in organizing the Bird Safe Glass Initiative at the University of Arkansas with Dr. Sauer. 

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Jullianna McCauley

Undergraduate Researcher & Technician

Jullianna's research aims to determine if specific habitats promote a higher richness in parasite abundance and offspring growth in Eastern bluebirds. She received an Undergraduate Research Summer Research Grant in 2022 to conduct her research.

Past Lab Members

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Chris Goodchild, PhD

PhD student;

Chris graduated from Oklahoma University, then completed an MS at the University of New England and a PhD at Oklahoma State University. Chris’ research investigated the physiological effects of sublethal crude oil exposure in an avian model system to establish mechanistic links between subcellular indicators and ecologically relevant effects (e.g., whole-animal fitness, population-level endpoints). Chris was a postdoc in Kendra Sewall's lab at Virginia Tech and is now an Assistant Professor at University of Central Oklahoma.

Visit Chris' website here


Ashley Love, PhD

PhD student and Postdoc;

Ashley completed her undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and her PhD at Oklahoma State University. Ashley's research focused on the importance of behavior in shaping individual and offspring immune responses. Ashley recently received an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to work with Dr. Sarah Knutie at UConn.


View Ashley's website here


Weston Perrine

MS student;

Weston completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska. Weston's research investigated the importance of diet in shaping individual responses to disease (e.g., recovery time, disease severity). He used a laboratory canary-MG host-pathogen system. He is currently a visiting instructor at the University of Arkansas.

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Ashley Morris

Honors Undergraduate Researcher

Savannah is pursuing her Honors thesis research project. She is analyzing tropical bird nest samples for possible antibacterial properties.  Savannah will be attending medical school after she graduates in Spring 2021.


Coleen Weist

Honors Undergraduate Researcher

Emma is a senior Biology major and Medical Humanities minor who has worked in the lab since Fall 2018. She is working on her Honors Thesis with Ashley Love investigating the relationship between maternal infection and antibody investment to offspring. Emma was awarded an Honors Research Grant and will defend her thesis in the spring of 2021.  Emma will begin medical school after her 2021 graduation.

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Jahnavi Kodali

Honors Undergraduate Researcher

Jahnavi began working in the lab as a Junior with Ashley Love to study immune-behavior trade-offs that offspring experience in response to maternal disease. She successfully defended her thesis Spring 2021 and recently earned a position with Dana Farber and Cedar Sinai Applied Genomics, Computational & Translational Core. She plans to pursue graduate school in the future.

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Savannah Sepaul

Honors Undergraduate Researcher

Ashley is an Honor's student working on her thesis with Ashley Love. She is investigating the relationship between diet macronutrient content and its effect on disease outcomes.

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Wayne Hawkins

Undergraduate Researcher

Wayne developed NestIQ, a program that uses machine learning to identify avian on- and off-bouts in thermal datasets collected from avian nests. You can download the program at His manuscript is currently in review. Wayne is now pursuing a graduate careeer at U Michigan.


Angel Campos Melara

Undergraduate Researcher

Angel is studied the effects of infection on social interactions, particularly how uninfected birds shift their behavior in response to uninfected individuals. Angel earned an Undergraduate Research grant to support her research and graduated in 2020.


Audra Metz

Freshman Research Scholar

Audra was a Freshman Research Scholar in the lab. She investigated the effects of crude oil ingestion on courtship and pair bond maintenance behaviors in zebra finches.  Audra won Best Presentation at the Freshmen Research Scholar Symposium.


Anna Smith

Wentz fellow and Freshman Research Scholar

Anna is a Physiology major who started working in the lab her first semester on campus. She's been involved with numerous projects, won a Best Presentation award at the Karen L Smith Undergraduate Research Symposia, presented at the Animal Behavior meeting in Toronto, Canada, and received a Wentz Research Scholarship.  Anna is currently exploring behavioral and immunological changes in social birds exposed to sick conspecifics. She's now in PT school.


Jeff Krall

Goldwater and Niblack Fellow

Jeff started working in the lab as a Freshmen. Jeff explored the bioenergetic consequences of exposure to crude oil using a bird model organism. Jeff has received several Best Presentation awards at local and national meetings. Jeff is also the recipient of the prestigious National Goldwater Fellowship and a Niblack Scholarship. Jeff is a grad student at Colorado St. University.


Kevin Grisham

Undergraduate Researcher

Kevin has been a jack-of-all-trades in the lab and has worked with birds, snakes and snails. Kevin completed an independent research project investigating the behavioral effects of exposure to waste water treatment facility effluent in snails. Kevin was recently accepted into Veterinary School at Oklahoma State University. He will be sorely missed!

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Aimee Nash

Undergraduate Researcher

Amy was with the lab for three years and became an expert at DNA extraction, analyzing behavioral videos, caring for birds, and performing lab assays. Aimee's primary focus is on the changes in the gut microbiome associated with shifts in macronutrient intake. 

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Lauren Schmidt

Wentz Fellow

Lauren worked on her Honor's Thesis with Chris Goodchild investigating whether personality predicts behavioral and morphological responses to predators in snails.  Lauren was the recipient of a Wentz Research Grant!

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Tori Kingdom

Wentz Fellow

Tori was a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major working with Ashley Love to explore innate immune responses and hormonal changes in zebra finches exposed to sick neighbors. Tori was the recipient of a Wentz Research Grant

Past Summer Undergraduate Researchers


Destiny Guillory


Destiny is an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff. She worked with the DuRant lab during the Summer of 2022 studying the effect of maternal disease severity on the transfer of antibodies to offspring. She will be presenting her research at the 2023 SICB conference in Austin, TX. 


Christopher Carter


Chris is an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff. He worked with the DuRant lab during the Summer of 2022 studying sex-biased trade-offs between growth and immunocompetence in Eastern Bluebird hatchlings. He will be presenting his research at the 2023 SICB conference in Austin, TX. 


Anna Smith


Anna worked with the DuRant lab for a year as a Freshman Research Scholar.  She stayed with us for the summer to continue her research on the behavioral effects of an immune challenge in birds as an NSF REU student. 


Maria Arciniega


Maria, an undergraduate at Pomona College in Claremont CA, worked as an NSF REU student with me at Tufts University in the summer of 2013.  Project title: Does disrupted negative feedback account for the negative effects of chronic stress.

Mimi Tran


Mimi worked as an NSF REU student with me at Tufts University in the summer of 2012, while she was an undergraduate student at Univ. of Texas, Austin. After graduating, Mimi attended Vet school at the University of Wisconsin.  Project title: Does life history stage affect the energetic costs of stress?

Current Collaborators

Jen Grindstaff, Oklahoma State University

​Ryan Paitz, Illinois State University

Jessica Hite, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Brett DeGregorio, University of Arkansas

JD Willson, University of Arkansas

Jeffrey Lewis, University of Arkansas

Amanda Carter, University of Tennessee

​Carolyn Bauer, Swarthmore University

William Hopkins, Virginia Tech

Michael Romero, Tufts University

Gary Hepp, Auburn University

Noha Youssef, Oklahoma State University

Shawn Wilder, Oklahoma State University

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