Julie Heath knew from an early age that she wanted to become a biologist. Growing up in San Diego, she spent much of her time at the ocean, in the mountains, and in the desert where she was exposed to nature in diverse environments. Today, Professor Heath's research focuses on preserving the earth's precious ecosystems on which wildlife (and humans) depend for survival.
Professor Heath earned a B.S. in zoology at the University of California at Davis, an M.S. in raptor biology at the Boise State University in Idaho, and a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida. During a brief hiatus prior to attending the University of Florida, Professor Heath immersed herself in more nature by working at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, and participating in a hawk watch in Utah. For those unfamiliar with hawk watches, this activity required her to camp on a mountaintop for three consecutive months to track the number and types of hawk species that flew by.
Dr. Heath, an assistant professor of biology at Hofstra, joined the faculty in fall 2003. Academia, Professor Heath says, allows her the freedom to continue her field work while teaching students in the process. Her current interests focus not only on birds, but on the mechanisms that drive their parental care. "Let's talk about hormones," Professor Heath says. As evidenced in her article, she is fascinated by the way changes in our environment effect physiological changes, which in turn affect behavior. And what's even more fascinating, Professor Heath explains, is that the effects of hormones are universal. The same hormones that drive humans to compete for attention also make birds flashy.
Dr. Heath spends much of her free time traveling, and during one of her research expeditions, she learned to drive an airboat, which she claims is one of her major accomplishments. She likes to watch Sixers basketball, and of course, she enjoys what the uninitiated might refer to as bird watching, but for the experienced, is known as birding. -WB
Hofstra Horizons Articles
- Spring 2006: Birds Are Parents Too