I’m Ellie Diamant (she/her), currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA in the Yeh Lab. Broadly, I’m interested in behavior, ecology, and evolution in response to strong human-caused environmental change. These systems allow us to explore fundamental evolutionary questions while also understanding our impact on non-human organisms and the interplay between human and non-human systems in a time of rising ecological and social crises.
For my first two dissertation chapters, I applied a novel framework—adapted from pharmacology to ecology—to accurately identify and describe multiple stressor interactions and their effects on populations across habitats (Tekin, Diamant et al. 2020 Ecology Letters; Diamant, Boyd, Lozano-Huntelman et al. in review). We found that effects are broadly non-additive and that higher order interactions are common. This work represents a broad pattern of unpredictability in biotic response, suggesting that populations should be studied in situ in order to assess how they are responding to the combination of changes they are currently facing. I have developed a study system to test the predictability and mechanistic process of how one bird species responds to urbanization across Southern California. In collaboration with MSc and undergraduate students that I co-mentored, we’ve uncovered that response at the behavioral and morphological scale are both divergent and convergent, depending on the trait, and are driven by evolutionary and non-evolutionary mechanisms (Bressler et al. 2020 Proc. Roy. Soc. B.; Wong, Diamant et al. 2022 R. Soc. Open Sci.; Walters et al. in review).
I am also interested in questions pertaining to global and local environmental justice issues and questioning the frameworks within which we as scientists work and think. I pursue questions that live in and problematize the ‘boundaries’ of constructs that affect our science and how our science affects society. As an Associate Director of the Counterforce Lab in Design | Media Arts at UCLA, under the leadership of Prof. Rebeca Méndez, I collaborate with a transdiciplinary team leading to emergent design solutions with community organizations, responding to interconnections between ecological crises and environmental injustice.
I completed a Master’s in the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology Department at Columbia University. For my Master’s thesis, I worked with Dr. Dustin Rubenstein to study female-limited plumage polymorophisms across the hummingbird lineage. Using over 15,000 museum specimens primarily at the American Museum of Natural History, we determined the evolution, intrasexual and intraspecific variation, and the function of male-like female morphs across over 300 species of hummingbirds.
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