Student Highlights: Erin Stewart


Class:  Graduate Student

Major:  Zoology & Physiology

Erin Stewart grew up in Seattle, Washington, and attended the University of Puget Sound where she received a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Environmental Policy in 2020. During this time, she worked as an editor for the university’s undergraduate science publication and as a docent at the university’s natural history museum. Both experiences sparked her interest in pursuing science communication and journalism alongside research.


After graduation, Erin moved to central Florida for 6 months to study plant demography. She then traveled to Georgia, California, and Idaho to work as a field technician on various bird-related research projects. Erin currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming, and likes to spend her free time hiking, baking, and playing bird-themed board games.


For her master’s research, Erin is studying how birds communicate and compete for resources in the tropical rainforests of central Panama. In particular, Erin is interested in examining the vocal behavior of female birds and suboscines (birds in which song is innate rather than learned) as these groups are understudied. Using Chestnut-backed Antbirds—a suboscine species in which males and females jointly defend territories through a combination of vocalizations and plumage displays—as her study species, Erin will examine questions regarding the function of song types and duets, the relationship between song performance and fitness, and the way in which vocal behavior varies with changes in habitat and precipitation.


Every year, we award fellowships to graduate and undergraduate students attending the University of Wyoming or one of Wyoming’s community colleges in order to provide them with the opportunity to do “real” research. Occasionally, we feature one of these students and their research on this blog. For more information about our student fellowships, visit our College Programs page.