Documenting avian diversity through collections and research

Search our egg, specimen, and genetic resources collection databases.

For loan and information requests about our collections, contact Ben, Shannon and John.

The Bird Division, with two curators and three staff along with students, associates, and volunteers, continues a tradition of research and collections that dates back to the founding of the museum.  Shannon Hackett and John Bates, the current curators, study the evolution of birds and their parasites at all levels of the avian taxonomic hierarchy, from how orders and families are related to genetic structure at the population level.  Ben Marks is Collections Manager of Birds.

Retired Collections Manager, Dave Willard, continues active work in the collections and oversee salvage programs in the Chicago region and research on those collections.  This work has been going on now for 40 years.  Assistant Collections Manager, Thomas Gnoske, has done extensive taxidermy for the museum and for educational outreach programs. Collections Assistant Mary Hennen has monitored Chicago-region Peregrine Falcons for 25 years.  Senior Field Biologist, Steven Goodman continues his research into the biodiversity of Madagascar.  While we were sad to see him leave, Staff Scientist Jason Weckstein, who has been leading an NSF Biotic Surveys and Inventories grant (DEB-112054): Amazonian birds and their symbionts: Biodiversity surveys of parasites from the most diverse avifauna on earth, recently was hired as Curator of Birds at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences/Drexel University. 

Josh Engel works with John Bates on their NSF Dimensions US-BIOTA-Sao Paulo grant studying the assembly and evolution of the Amazonian biota and its environment. In addition to working in the Pritzker lab, Josh is an experienced field hand, does many local talks to a variety of nature groups, and is instrumental in mentoring young people interested in birds. Sean Lyon works to develop the digital imaging of passerine birds as a part of the Museum’s ongoing avian salvage program. This digitization initiative is part of a project called PLUME: Phenotypic Linkage Utilizing Multimedia in EMu. The images that Sean develops are available worldwide through the Field Museum’s specimen database.

The Division continues to conduct active field research particularly in Africa and South America.  The countries where we have worked in the last 10 years include: The Philippines, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Kenya, Madagascar, Ghana, Central African Republic, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  You can see more about our African programs on our African Birds website

Current staff and contact information for research associates, and students:

Ben Marks, Collection Manager 312.665.7812
Mary Hennen, Collections Assistant 312.665.7718
Thomas Gnoske, Assistant Collections Manager 312.665.7726
Shannon Hackett, Associate Curator 312.665.7729
John Bates, Associate Curator and Head of Life Sciences 312.665.7730
Dave Willard, Adjunct Curator 312.665.7731
Kayleigh Kueffner, Collections Assistant  
Kellie Murdoch, Collections Assistant  
Sean Lyon, Collections Assistant 312.665.7136 
Josh Engel, Research Assistant 312.665.7710
Dylan Maddox, Research Scientist  
Sushma Reddy, Research Associate  
Peggy Macnamara, Artist in Residence  
Norbert Cordiero, Research Associate  
Peter Lowther, Research Associate  
Jacob Cooper, Graduate Student, University of Chicago  
Nick Crouch, Graduate Student, University of Illinois, Chicago  
Shane DuBay, Graduate Student, University of Chicago  
Heather Skeen, Graduate Student, University of Chicago  
João Capurucho, Graduate Student, University of Illinois, Chicago  
Natalia Piland, Graduate Student, University of Chicago  
Valentina Gomez, Graduate Student, University of Illinois, Chicago  
Chad Eliason, Postdoctoral Associate, Field Museum  
Yanzhu (Bamboo) Ji, Postdoctoral Associate, Field Museum