Jeff White, Ph.D.

 

Tawaki pick spectacular locations for their colonies, but Harrison Cove (behind me) will always be number one in my heart. Milford Sound, New Zealand (2021)

The islands of the New Zealand sub-Antarctic are far and away the most remote places I have ever been. An unimaginable number of seabirds call these islands home and it is a privilege to contribute to their conservation - even if it is always raining and howling wind. Proclamation Island-Bounty Islands, New Zealand (2022)

About Me


Current Research Focus

I am a post-doctoral research associate in the lab of Dr. Amandine Gamble in the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Public and Ecosystem Health. In this role, I will be contributing to a broad-scale project aimed at understanding the complex relationships between seabirds, introduced mammals, and disease. As such, I will be focusing on characterizing the food web dynamics between avian predators (i.e. Striated Caracaras and Skuas), seabirds, and introduced mammals in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas. I will also be continuing my work with the Tawaki Project in New Zealand on crested penguin ecology. 

I am broadly interested in seabird foraging ecology and movement patterns and their implications for population dynamics. I use a multi-modal and highly collaborative approach at the intersections of stable isotope ecology, tracking, physiology, and genomics. 

My Background

I grew up roaming the forest of my family's farm in north Mississippi where I developed a passion for birds. Like many animal lovers, I embarked on a career in veterinary medicine by studying Animal Science at Mississippi State University and working as a veterinary assistant. Little did I know that the next decade would take me on a very different path. After two years at MSU, I transferred to Middle Tennessee State University, switched to Biology, and became involved in undergraduate research on aquatic invasive species. 

After graduation, I volunteered with Aves Argentinas and Proyecto Macá Tobiano to assist with monitoring and conservation efforts to protect the critically endangered Hooded Grebe. During this time in Argentina I encountered my first wild penguins - I was now irreparably hooked on penguins.

I began my Master's in the Mays Lab at Marshall University and pitched the idea of a thesis on stable isotope ecology in Fiordland Penguins/tawaki. With the help of a supportive advisor and bit of luck, I found the Tawaki Project and embarked on my first field season in New Zealand. Penguins and stable isotope ecology remained central to my research in the McCracken Lab at the University of Miami, but I have also expanded into population genetics and diving physiology in other seabird taxa. 

From birdwatching on our Mississippi farm, to tracking endangered penguins on sub-Antarctic islands, the last decade has brought me far from my original plan of veterinary medicine - and I wouldn't have it any other way! Although I am now focused on seabird biology, I still credit the 10+ years of working in emergency veterinary medicine with providing many of the skills that are critical to both my lab and field work. 

Check out my current and past research here or head over to my CV.  If you find my research, photos, or field stories interesting, or want to collaborate on a project please reach out on any of the social media accounts or e-mail below.


Education

2019 - 2024                                         Ph.D. in Biology, University of Miami

2016 - 2020                                         M.S. in Biology, Marshall University 

2013 - 2015                                         B.S. in Biology, Middle Tennessee State University

2008 - 2010                                         Mississippi State University 


External Links

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