Mary Caswell Stoddard

2022 Polymaths Award Winner

Dr. Mary Caswell Stoddard (Cassie) is an Associate Professor in the Princeton Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Stoddard uses a multidisciplinary approach to investigate avian coloration and color vision and the evolution and engineering of avian eggs. By combining lab experiments with fieldwork and research in the collections of natural history museums, Dr. Stoddard’s lab is working to understand how birds produce and perceive color and how they evolved tough-but-breakable eggshells. Dr. Stoddard’s research team is currently investigating hummingbird sensory ecology at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado. At this high-altitude site, the effects of climate change threaten the delicate relationship between wildflowers and hummingbird pollinators.Dr. Stoddard collaborates with bioengineers, physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians as she works toward building an integrative picture of bird behavior and evolution in a world of rapid environmental change. Visit the Stoddard Lab website for more information on their work.

Planned Polymaths Work: Studying birds from their excellent color vision and striking plumage to their impressive eggshells requires a wholly multidisciplinary approach. The Stoddard Lab will embrace tools from photonics, genomics, machine learning and biomechanics to understand avian evolution in new ways, with an eye toward protecting birds in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss.