The Project Phoebe Team

Project Leads

Sage Madden

Sage (she/they) is a third year Ecology PhD student in the Patricelli lab at the University of California Davis. She is pursuing her PhD to study how animals respond to human modification of the environment, including urbanization. Our urban jungle presents a range of challenges for the animals who live alongside us, and Sage is fascinated by how animals change to cope with those challenges.

One thing that Sage loves about studying urban birds is that it gives her lots of opportunities to talk to members of the community about research, ecology in general, and birds.

In her free time, Sage loves to read science fiction, hike, bake, and cook.

Sage holds a Black Phoebe nestling in her hands during nestling growth measurements, with some field equipment visible behind her. She kneels on some weedy grass, with a graffitied wall and some trees in the backdrop.
Sage taking measurements of a Black Phoebe nestling. The nestlings are very briefly handled to measure their growth and to give them unique ID bands, before being returned to their nest.

Jacob Johnson

Jacob (he/him) is an Animal Behavior PhD student in the Hahn lab at UC Davis. He is interested in studying how animals use different behavioral strategies to cope with unusual and/or harsh environments. His research projects feature work in cityscapes with Black Phoebes, wildfire-affected areas with Dark-eyed Juncos, and in the lab with Wolf Spiders and Carpenter Bees. 

Jacob is fascinated by how animals handle environmental change, and believes that cities are one of the best places to see this in action. Because cities are so “new” to animals, they let researchers focus on how behavioral flexibility impacts the ability of animals to survive and reproduce. He is especially curious if the same environmental changes that cause new species to form elsewhere, like on islands, might also be affecting animals in cities as well.

He is an active science communicator, serving as a contributor and editor on the science communication site The Ethogram, writing pop science books, and composing educational music about topics in biology. He also moonlights as a jazz saxophonist in his free time.

Jacob standing on a rocky beach, with some vegetation visible in the background.
Jacob at the beach.

Ian Ramshorn Haliburton

Ian (he/they) is a second-year animal behavior PhD student working in the labs of Tom Hahn and Gail Patricelli. He is interested in the role of behavior in animals’ responses to anthropogenic change and hopes that any research he does may have some implications for the conservation of wild birds and the protection of sensitive habitats. Out of the many challenges that coexisting with humans presents, Ian is drawn towards studying chemical pollution, and he is excited to find creative ways to bridge the fields of ecotoxicology and behavioral ecology, including while working with Project Phoebe!

On the personal side of things, Ian is very much a natural history nerd, and he tries to spend as much time outside as he possibly can. He loves birding (no surprise!), botanizing, hiking, surfing (although this hobby has been a casualty of moving from the coast to the Sacramento valley), and many other active activities. Ian’s other passions include illustrating (the Project Phoebe logo is an example of his work!), playing the piano and spending time with his two budgies, Bunji and Cooee.

Ian standing in front of large rocks with desert hills in the background. Ian is holding a can of soup in one and and binoculars in the other.
Ian in his favorite place (the Anza-Borrego desert), in his characteristically colorful field attire.

Current Undergraduate Team Members

Aidan Reynolds

Aidan (he/him) is a Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology undergraduate student in the Patricelli lab at UC Davis.

Aidan is fascinated by wildlife communication and strives to better understand how this vital behavior is impacted by environmental and evolutionary pressures. He is currently carrying out an independent project involving Black Phoebe vocalizations and how they vary across an urbanization gradient in response to noise pollution.

He enjoys listening to punk music, playing with his cats Zucchini and Goob, and traveling with his girlfriend. Aidan has always loved going to zoos, aquariums, and just about anywhere one could see a critter. He treasures the outdoors and spends a substantial amount of his free time hiking, biking, and exploring national and state parks. Aidan’s time with Project Phoebe has exploded his interests in bird behavior and diversity. You can often find him birdwatching as he strives to become the best birder this side of the Mississippi.

Aidan stands in a yard holding a chicken in his arms. A golden retriever can be seen behind him. Some trees, shrubs, and ground littered with brown leaves are visible behind him. A house is visible in the background.

Alia Tu

Alia (she/her) is a third-year undergraduate student at UC Davis, majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Wildlife Fish and Conservation Biology. This is her second field season with Project Phoebe, and she is particularly excited to get more data for her sub-project on the consequences of urbanization and human disturbance on Phoebe reproductive success. Additionally, Alia is passionate about education and is looking forward to opportunities to share the wonders of wild and urban birds with the community, while exploring ways that birds and humans can coexist in an increasingly urbanized world.

Alia is a long-time bird and nature lover and especially enjoys hiking and taking the time to observe animal behavior and the surrounding environment. As an avid artist, she often can be spotted with a sketchbook in hand, trying to capture the likes of a bird, or mushroom, or tree. She also occasionally plays bass guitar and alto saxophone in her free time.

A face shot of Alia with trees and mountains in the background.

Aziza Carrillo

Aziza (she/her) is third-year undergraduate student studying Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis. Her passions have always been centered around animals (with a special interest in birds) and environmental conservation. She is excited to be working as a field tech for Project Phoebe to gain some firsthand experience with wild birds and to explore scientific research procedures.

Aziza has two green-cheeked conures, Peanut and Pickle. Her hobbies include playing the flute as well as reading, writing, and watching science fiction. She loves to go birding and photograph wildlife.

A face shot of Aziza with a wetland in the background. Green grass, cattails and other reads, and a body of still water are visible behind her.

Finn Velisaris

Finn (he/him) is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis. He is interested in a career that works with conservation in wild birds, and is soon planning to pursue graduate studies in avian (or bird) behavior.

In his free time, Finn enjoys going outside and birdwatching, as well as gaming, and going to the gym. He also works at the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology on campus and enjoys spending his time preparing animals and working alongside his coworkers there.

Finn stands on a path, wearing a tan and brown fleece, with a sunset over a body of water visible in the background.

Jih-Heng Huang

Jih-Heng Huang (he/him) is a fourth year of the ecology, evolution, and biodiversity undergraduate. As a long-time wildlife enthusiast, he has been interested in ecology, inter-species interaction, natural history and wildlife conservation. He joined the phoebe project in January 2024 as a video analysis volunteer.

He commonly goes into the wild to look for different species of birds, mammals, herpes and insects. He has roughly three years of birdwatching experience and was also an intern of the Putah Creek Nest Box project.

In his free time, he also likes to enjoy watching some sports and learning about various topics including history and global issues.

Jih-Heng stands in a redwood forest, giving a peace sign to the camera, with a pair of binoculars hanging around his neck. He wears a ball cap and a bright blue rain jacket.

Joana Rose

Jo (she/they) is a fourth-year undergraduate in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at UC Davis. She is interested in the overlap between wildlife conservation, climate change, and making science accessible for local communities of all ages and demographics. She has previously worked on the Putah Creek Nestbox Project and as a resource technician in the Indiana Dunes. In her free time, she likes to go to concerts, watch movies, and spend time with her two cats, Stevie and Bug.

Joana stands on a wooden platform, with a grassy field and a lighthouse in the background. She has binoculars around her neck.

Jyotsna Jha

Jyotsna Jha (she/her) is a first year Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior major in the Patricelli lab at UC Davis. She has always been interested in animals, but developed a specific passion for songbirds after working extensively with them at a wildlife rescue. Through her time working with Project Phoebe, she hopes to gain experience working on the field in preparation for a possible future career in research.

In her free time, Jyotsna enjoys creative writing, hiking, reading, and playing video games. She also plays violin for the Video Game Orchestra at UC Davis.

Haley Van Sloten

Haley (she/her) is a first year Wildlife, fish, and Conservation Biology major, with a minor in Avian Sciences. She’s always adored working with animals, whether that involve pets, livestock, or wildlife, and is currently pursuing a career in wildlife research and conservation. After her previous experience rehabilitating wild birds and mammals, she jumped at the moment to be able to gain experience working on the field, rather than in a wildlife rescue. She’s developing her own independent research studying the effects of human activity levels on food delivery and reproductive success.

During her free time, she loves binge-watching tv shows, playing video games with her friends, and playing with legos and puzzles to relax her mind. Along with these activities, she also enjoys spending time outdoors by going on walks and has recently gotten into wildlife photography.

Haley sits on a rock, with a red-leaved bush in the background. She wears a tan sweater and blue jeans.

Parker Milligan

Parker (he/him) is a third year student studying Evolution, Ecology, and Wildlife Conservation Biology. His passions include animal behavior, captive animal welfare, and science education. Project Phoebe has sparked a strong interest in the impacts of urbanization on wildlife behavior. Outside of being a video analyst for Project Phoebe, Parker is a physics tutor for the university and an assistant primate keeper at the Sacramento Zoo. In his free time, Parker participates in community theatre, practices wildlife photography, and spoils his cats, Domino and Mochi. He plans to pursue graduate degrees in Animal Behavior, contributing to future research and collegiate education.

Siiri Hamberg

Siiri (she/her) is a first-year Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity undergraduate at UC Davis. She came to Davis from South Carolina to follow her passion for nature and science and to pursue a career in research. She has been thrilled to get to know all the unique and beautiful animals of California, and she hopes to gain a wealth of experience from her time working with Project Phoebe. On the team, she hopes to develop skills in field research and become involved in the university’s thriving science community. Her current research topic of interest is avian ectoparasitism and the influence of urbanization on bird immune health.

In her free time, Siiri loves to create art, watch horror movies, and both write and read science fiction. She also enjoys distance running, camping, and hiking, and one of her long-term goals is to travel the length of California and experience firsthand all its incredible biodiversity.

Siiri smiles at the camera, and a brown and white dog pants with a wide mouth and closed eyes right next to her. Trees are visible in the background.

Past Undergraduate Team Members

Farah Mustafa

Farah (she/her) is a second-year Wildlife and Fish Conservation Biology major, interested in a career working with birds and small mammals as a conservationist and wildlife researcher. She is a hiker and explorer, an avid reader, and a volunteer at the Foley Lab as well, where she works with with Amargosa voles. She is excited for her first fieldwork position with Project Phoebe, and is looking forward to working with the team.

A face shot of Farah indoors.
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