International Educator - May/June 2013 - 58

Troy Murphy, a professor in the Department of Biology at San Antonio, Texas-based Trinity University,
has collaborated with Professor Marcela Osorio Beristain at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos
in Mexico (UAEM) since 2005, yielding research on
birds that has led to multiple student-led journal articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
“We have worked together focusing on the evolution of behavior, including the evolution of female
beauty,” Murphy says. Unlike much of the avian world,
where males are more highly ornamented than females,
Murphy notes that in the tropics, female birds also have
beautiful plumage. “We wanted to test what evolutionary forces were responsible for both sexes being highly
ornamented,” Murphy says, noting the collaboration led
to many multi-month field studies in Mexico. “Based
on our research, we found that bright colors in females
evolve to communicate a female’s fighting ability, or
‘toughness,’ and that these ornamental females use
bright colors to communicate their relative dominance.
Our research indicates that when territorial birds detect
intruders on their territory with brighter plumage, they
perceive them as greater threats. This research is very
exciting because very little is know about why females
evolve elaborate communication signals”

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M AY + J U N E . 13

“My students actually drive the discoveries made
in my research lab, and I could not imagine doing
research without their creativity and enthusiasm.
”

58  

Murphy says the relationship started when, while
working on a study of orioles, a colleague recommended that Murphy contact Beristain. “I did, and the
relationship has blossomed,” Murphy says. “We share
the same theoretical interests that makes a collaboration productive. We assess and build on each others’
ideas in very creative ways. In addition, she provides
knowledge of the lay of land, insight on how to work
with tropical species, and she knows where to find
the birds. And like me, Marcela puts a lot of emphasis
on student involvement. Together, we recruited students from both from UAEM, and from UNAM in
Mexico City. These students were interested in gaining
research experience, and many of them joined the project for months at a time. Some went on to complete
their undergraduate theses under our supervision.
Murphy says that he first started working with Beristain while he was an international postdoctoral fellow,

COURTESY OF TROY MURPHY

Some Collaborations
Are for the Birds

Troy Murphy, a biology professor at Trinity
University, who collaborates Marcela Osorio
Beristain at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de
Morelos in Mexico (UAEM) on bird research.

and that he learned quite a bit by working so closely
with a researcher in another country. “One of the big
differences between undergraduate students in the
United States and Mexico is that the latter often performed more independent work that led to publishable
research,” Murphy says. “Mexican students provided my
first exposure to the idea that undergraduates could do
cutting-edge and top-notch research; the project was
theirs and they showed ownership of it, from conception all the way through data collection, writing,
and analysis. It opened my eyes to how undergraduates could play a vital role as part of a larger
project. For example, we had one undergraduate
student from UNAM, Laila Yunes Jiménez, who
studied female song in orioles. She figured out a
way to systematically study the songs of a little-studied
bird, and she did an outstanding job with her research.
Her thesis project yielded a publication in a highly respected ornithological journal that demonstrated that
females sing six times more often than males. This
female-bias in song production was unheard of before
Laila’s research, and this finding represents a fantastic
discovery, and really opens the door to more research
on the evolution of female ornamentation.”
Murphy now works extensively with undergraduate scientists. “Undergraduate researchers are now
an essential component of my research program,” he
says. Actually, that is an understatement: my students
actually drive the discoveries made in my research lab,
and I could not imagine doing research without their
creativity and enthusiasm.”
IE
DAVID TOBENKIN is a freelance writer based in
the Washington, D.C. area.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - May/June 2013

International Educator - May/June 2013
Contents
From the Editors
Front Lines
In Brief
Voices: Kofi Annan
Peace Pathways
Shared Solutions
San Francisco State Shines in Long-Term Study Abroad
Education Abroad
Foreign Student Affairs
Forum
In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2013 - International Educator - May/June 2013
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Cover2
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Contents
International Educator - May/June 2013 - From the Editors
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 3
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Front Lines
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 5
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 6
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 7
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 8
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 9
International Educator - May/June 2013 - In Brief
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 11
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 12
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 13
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 14
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 15
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 16
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 17
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 18
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 19
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 20
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 21
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 22
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 23
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Voices: Kofi Annan
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 25
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 26
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 27
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 28
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 29
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 30
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 31
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Peace Pathways
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 33
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 34
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 35
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 36
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 37
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 38
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 39
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 40
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 41
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 42
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 43
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Shared Solutions
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 45
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 46
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 47
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 48
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 49
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 50
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 51
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 52
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 53
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 54
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 55
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 56
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 57
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 58
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 59
International Educator - May/June 2013 - San Francisco State Shines in Long-Term Study Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 61
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 62
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 63
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 64
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 65
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 66
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 67
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 68
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 69
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Education Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 71
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 72
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 73
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 74
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 75
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 77
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 78
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 79
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 80
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 81
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Forum
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 83
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 84
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 85
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 86
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 87
International Educator - May/June 2013 - In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Cover3
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Cover4
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