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2016–2019 Presidential Research Professor

Kevin_Omland-3121Kevin Omland, Professor, Biological Sciences

Kevin Omland joined the UMBC faculty in 2000. His revolutionary research has challenged many of the conceptual foundations of his field, and it has fundamentally changed how people think about relationships among living species.

Omland has developed a nationally and internationally recognized research program focused on evolutionary trees, speciation, and the evolution of elaborate color and song in birds. A majority of his research is concentrated on closely related species and lineages that have just begun the process of speciation. Over the past decade, his lab has received significant funding from the National Science Foundation and the Research Council of Norway to continue its groundbreaking work on the evolu­tionary history and diversification of ornamental traits in birds.

Most recently, in 2014, an article by Omland and a Ph.D. student from his research group published in the journal Nature Communications made headlines around the world for their research, which demonstrated that the common ancestor of modern songbirds also had female song, a trait thought to be reserved for male songbirds as a result of sexual selection.

In addition, Omland has been involved in collaborations on a number of other projects, including the lead author on a review paper on the misconceptions biologists hold about evolutionary trees. The success of the review paper resulted in an invitation to contribute to a chapter in The Princeton Guide to Evolution, a comprehensive, concise, and authoritative reference to the major subjects and key concepts in evolutionary biology.

Omland received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. from the University at Albany, SUNY.