Kristin Winchell
Boston, MA


B.S. Biology and Mathematics, Chemistry minor, University of San Francisco (May 2006, GPA 3.49)

M.A. Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B), Columbia University (expected completion Fall 2010; GPA 3.93)

Research Interests

My research interests are in understanding how organisms adapt to increasing urbanization.  Specifically, I am interested in understanding what habitat characteristics are most important for species and population persistence as well as which organism characteristics are most sensitive to urban pressures.  From a conservation perspective, this may help ensure that future land development minimizes its detrimental effects upon urban or peri-urban animals.  I am also interested in understanding the adaptive process of organisms under urbanization pressures in terms of microevolution.  In what ways do organisms diverge from their non-urban counterparts when they are placed in an urban context?  What are the genetic effects and implications of this urban adaptation?  What role does phenotypic plasticity play in adapting to urban environments, and can understanding plasticity in key characters predict how animals will fare with increased urban pressures?  Do species that persist in human dominated landscapes have characteristics or behaviors in common with invasive species?   

I am currently interested in working with reptiles and amphibians to answer these questions and other questions regarding urbanization and population persistence. 

Experience (field work, employment, research)

October 2009 - April 2010
Genetics Intern, American Museum of Natural History 
I worked at the AMNH for two semesters assisting with the Panthera project and a cetacean project.  I assisted in all stages of laboratory work.

September 2009 - December 2010
Teaching Assistant, Columbia University
I was a teaching assistant for Disease Ecology, taught by Dr. Alonso Aguirre

June 2009 – August 2010
An Assessment of Freshwater Turtles Along an Urbanization Gradient in Syracuse, New York
Project Advisor: Dr. James P. Gibbs, Professor, SUNY-ESF.   Activities: trapping at ~100 ponds spanning an urbanization gradient including urban sites, golf courses, rural sites, and protected areas; morphological analyses, fluctuating asymmetry, and habitat analysis.  Pending funding, I will also correlate Mercury levels with the landscape use and degree of urbanization. Project funded by U.S. Golf Association (USGA) and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

May 2007 – August 2008
Curatorial Assistant, CBRI – Center for Biodiversity and Research Informatics, California Academy of Sciences
Activities: Created a digital database of the CAS collections linking images, field notes, and information for specific projects and specimen.  Ultimately the project will be available online for inter-institutional use.  Project funded by National Science Foundation (NSF).

Jan. 2007 – March 2007
Laboratory Intern, Novato Sanitary District, California. Wastewater Treatment Laboratory
Activities: water quality analyses for effluent and reclaimed water and quality control analyses for waste in all stages of the treatment process.

Morphological Analyses of Reptiles from Myanmar and China
Project Advisor: Jens. V. Vindum, Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences. Activities: character measurements and scale counts, character analysis and comparison, identification.

June-July 2005
Ecology and Behavior of Black Mantled Howler Monkeys (Alouatta paliatta)
Project advisor: Dr. Lynne Miller, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.  Activities: observation, behavior interpretation, census surveys of group size, composition, and habitat.

UV Response by Phytoplankton
Project Advisors: Dr. Deneb Karentz, Dr. Paul K. Chien, University of San Francisco. Activities: Data manipulation and analysis of Antarctic Phytoplankton under varying amounts of ozone depletion; UV-B dose response of San Francisco Bay Plankton.

Publications and Presentations

Winchell, K.M. and J.P. Gibbs (2009). Golf Course Wetlands as Refuges for Turtles. USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Summary: p.69.

Vindum, J.V. and K.M. Winchell. (in prep.) Herpetofauna of Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, Myanmar. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.

Primates of the Nicaraguan Rainforest and Human Impact on the Environment at Ometepe, Nicaragua. Brown Bag Lecture, October 27, 2005. University of San Francisco.

Skills and Certifications

-Website development (HTML, PHP, Wordpress; proficient)

-PADI Open Water DIver (2008)

-freshwater turtle trapping and handling

-ESRI ArcGIS (proficient)

-R (proficient)

-Excel (advanced knowledge)

-genetic laboratory techniques

-water quality analysis techniques


James P. Gibbs, Ph.D, Professor, State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) (

Stan Blum, Ph.D, Research Information Manager, California Academy of Sciences (

Jens Vindum, Curator of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences (

Matthew Palmer, Ph.D., Lecturer, Columbia University (

 Please email me if you would like a PDF of my CV, which also includes more detailed information.  It is not included here to protect my personal address and phone number.

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