Prof. Sonia Kleindorfer is an organismal systems biologist with a research focus on how animal behaviour shapes evolutionary dynamics in birds and parasites. She did her university study at University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor: Biological Basis of Behaviour), University of Vienna (PhD: Zoology) and University of Washington School of Medicine (Postdoc).
PhD, University of Vienna
BA, University of Pennsylvania
Higher Education Advanced Leadership Program, graduate (National Excellence in Educational Leadership Initiative, Melbourne)
D. L. Serventy Medal 2016, awarded by BirdLife Australia for outstanding research on birds
My interdisciplinary research addresses the role of prenatal experience for phenotypic variation, which I study in birds. The research program spans the fields of animal behaviour, evolutionary biology, ontogeny, cognitive biology, and neurobiology. I explore fundamental principles of biological organisation to discover mechanisms of information processing established during ontogeny and functional outcomes of in-nest experience that affect survival.
My teaching expertise is in animal behaviour, evolutionary ecology, and conservation. All are areas of active research for which I am Chief Investigator on national and international projects. In my teaching, I use case studies from cutting-edge and current research so that undergraduate students get a feel for "science in action". The genuine enthusiasm that I feel for the process of scientific discovery fuels my teaching. My teaching approaches are underscored by the following basic beliefs: (1) learning outcomes need to be differentially based on the level of study, (2) assessment needs to reflect learning outcomes, (3) students need support to achieve learning outcomes, (4) teaching needs to be responsive to students while also being explicit about the expected learning outcomes, (5) topics should foster the learning of generic skills that are applicable to a broad range of situations, and (6) understanding processes is as important as understanding concepts and methods.
Scientific collaborator and research scientist with the Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos Ecuador (2000 - present)
Community-based ecotourism consultant, Papua New Guinea (2005 - 2010)
Avian biodiversity and conservation consultant, Fiji (2016 - present)