Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee is originally from Lawton, Oklahoma. She moved to Las Cruces over a decade ago and when the time was right, began pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Bio-Chemistry with a minor in Biology. She is currently working with Dr. Timothy Wright on analyzing changes in gene expression, in the vocal learning circuit at different developmental timepoints in budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatuss. In her spare time Ryan enjoys reading, time with her dogs, and traveling as much as possible.


Project Description:

Ryan’s work will investigate the expression of a key gene using a new animal model for adult vocal learning, the budgerigar, Melopsittacus undulatuss. She will be using previously collected brain samples from different developmental stages and will study the protein expression of two proteins, contactin associated protein-like 2 (Cntnap2) and parvalbumin (PV), previously shown to be active in vocal learning in other avian models for vocal learning.



  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete project
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Present scholarly work at conference, exhibition, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Take the GRE
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media
  • Apply for graduate or professional school
  • Apply for solo exhibition or performance

*Completed benchmarks in italics

Ryan’s mentor: Dr. Timothy Wright:

Dr. Wright is a professor in Biology who studies animal behavior.  His particular interest is in the evolution of vocal learning abilities, which he and his students study in birds like parrots and hummingbirds.  This work takes them both into the lab to study how bird brains process learned calls, and into the field to see how birds use them in their natural setting. Helping students dive into independent research projects is one of the aspects of his job that he most enjoys, and he is excited to be mentoring Ryan in the Discovery Scholars Program.