Research excellence, from a tropical field site to the lab

Published: Apr 24, 2023

Portrait of student outdoors on UMBC campus
Ellie Bare (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Ellie Bare

Degree: B.S., Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Hometown: Sharpsburg, MD
Post-grad plans: Postbaccalaureate program, National Institutes of Health

Ellie Bare has been a core member of Kevin Omland’s research team, focused on bird evolution, ecology, behavior, and conservation, since 2021.

Bare, a member of the Honors College, has proven to be an adept field researcher as well as excellent in the laboratory, Omland says. On three research trips to Puerto Rico, she collected field data starting at 4:30 a.m. through midday heat, day in and day out. She also initiated a new project monitoring nocturnal bird behavior. In the lab, she independently developed molecular analysis protocols for determining a bird’s sex. That ability is especially valuable for tropical birds, because males and females often have the same plumage.

Bare’s work was partially funded by a National Science Foundation International Research Experience for Students grant. “She was an indispensable asset to our project, and she was a great team member,” Omland says. She has also supported fellow UMBC students as a tutor and mentor, and interned with the Folded Crane Foundation, which focuses on women’s education and empowerment.

selfie of two student researchers outdoors in a tropical field site in field clothes, one holding a black bird
Michelle Moyer (left) and Ellie Bare, holding a Puerto Rican Oriole, at their research site in Puerto Rico. (Image by Michelle Moyer)

Has there been a mentor or fellow student who influenced your time at UMBC?

“I joined the Omland lab to help Ph.D. student Michelle Moyer with her field research project studying Orchard Oriole female song in spring 2021. We’ve grown close over four more field seasons. Her confidence, passion, and positivity are contagious. She has given me invaluable advice about my career path and about life as a whole. I’m very thankful to have met and worked with her.”

What has been the best part of your UMBC experience?

“My favorite UMBC experience has been getting involved with research. I love being able to apply what I learn in the classroom to hands-on work. I’ve been lucky enough to network with accomplished scientists at conferences, have ownership over my own projects, and learn from great mentors and peers. My research experiences have given me the expertise to enter the next stage of my career with confidence and excitement.”

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