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Casey McLaughlin

IGC FELLOW    |   Global Change Center

Ph.D. Student  •  Biological Sciences

Advisor : Dr. Kendra Sewall

Research Interests: Ecotoxicology, ecophysiology, neuroendocrinology, ornithology 

IGC Fellow

Casey is a PhD student in Dr. Kendra Sewall’s lab.  She is interested in better understanding how exposure to sublethal doses of environmental pollutants impacts the behavior and physiology of songbirds. 

Casey has worked in a variety of scientific fields, providing her with an interdisciplinary approach to her work.  She received her BS in Chemistry and Psychology from Yale University.  After graduation, she worked as a research technician in a neuroscience lab and then in a genomics and developmental biology lab.

While working as a technician, Casey volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center, where she helped care for birds suffering from largely human-caused ailments.  As a long-time birder, she enjoyed the hands-on experience.  But she saw closely the anthropogenic threats faced by wildlife.  This experience motivated her to return to school to combine her passion for science with her love of birds. 

Casey received her MS in Biology from William & Mary.  She studied the impact of nonlethal methylmercury exposure, combined with food stress, on hormone levels and feather quality in a model songbird.  She was particularly interested in developing nonlethal methods to assess the effects of mercury, as well as better understanding how its impacts differ when birds are under an additional stressor. 

At Virginia Tech, Casey aims to pursue similar work, exploring the effects of lead pollution on songbirds.  Through the IGC, she hopes to develop skills to interface with stakeholders and members of the public from a broad range of backgrounds so her research can be applied to conservation and policy.