Jessica Hernandez joined Dr. Ignacio Moore’s lab as a Ph.D. student in the fall of 2016. For her dissertation, Jessica studies a free-living population of box-nesting tree swallows (Tachcineta bicolor) that form social pair bonds throughout the breeding season yet also engage in extra-pair copulations. Through observational and experimental studies, Jessica hopes to better understand the relationship between extra-pair copulations and pathogen dynamics in a wild avian population.
Jessica received her B.A. in Biology from Pomona College in 2015. In college, she researched diet patterns of chinstrap penguins; osmoregulation in White’s tree frogs; homing behavior of northern spring salamanders; and nest pathogens in loggerhead sea turtles. Jessica was able to combine her interests in endocrinology, animal behavior, and environmentally induced stressors into her undergraduate thesis. She compared testosterone concentrations in male western fence lizards found throughout urban and protected environments to better understand the effect of urbanization on reproductive physiology.
In addition to research, Jessica is passionate about communicating science in a way that makes sense to individuals both within the science community and outside of it. She spent a summer teaching cell biology to bilingual middle school students through the Breakthrough Collaborative program. Prior to delving into graduate school, she also spent a year as a marine educator through the University of Georgia Sea Grant program, where she taught hands-on marine biology and coastal ecology classes to preschool through college students.
Through the Interfaces of Global Change program, Jessica hopes to learn how to communicate her research effectively while also being exposed to perspectives stemming from more policy-oriented approaches to global change research.