Jennifer Houtz

Headshot of Jennifer Houtz
Faculty Website

Professional Title/s

Assistant Professor

Faculty Credentials

B.S., Animal Behavior, Millersville University of Pennsylvania Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University

Biographical Information

Research Interests

  • Stress physiology
  • Gut microbiomes
  • Behavioral ecology
  • Teaching: Hormones and Behavior Junior Seminar, Population and Community Ecology, Organismal Physiology and Ecology

In an era of unprecedented climatic variability, organisms must express flexible phenotypes to
persist in dynamic environments. My research focuses on how intra- and inter-individual
variation of physiological traits influence the degree of phenotypic plasticity and fitness. The two
focal questions of my research program include: 1) how does the gut microbiome mediate host
phenotypic plasticity? and 2) how do trade-offs between the gut microbiome and hormones
impact phenotypic flexibility? I use a combination of field and lab techniques to address
questions about physiology within an ecological context across biological scales. I primarily
work with cavity-nesting bird species including tree swallows, American kestrels, Eastern
bluebirds, and European starlings.

Potential comp projects in my lab can include questions on how environmental factors impact
physiology and behavior of wild animals. Students in the lab will have the opportunity to learn
ornithological field techniques such as banding, measuring, blood sampling, and behaviorally
monitoring birds. Students will also learn lab techniques such as DNA extractions, PCR,
high-throughput sequencing, and metabolite assays.

More Information

Fall 2023 Student Hours

  • Tuesdays 12:30-2:30 PM
  • Wednesdays 9:00-11:00 AM
  • Thursdays 1:30-3:30 PM