Valerie Brewer

Valerie is from Tularosa, NM; she moved the short distance to Las Cruces to pursue a Bachelor of Science at NMSU. She is double majoring in Conservation Ecology and Biology and is minoring in Genetics and Biotechnology. She is a member of Dr. Karen Mabry’s behavioral landscape ecology lab and is examining how urbanization influences avian behavior and population genetics in collaboration with the Sewall lab at Virginia Tech. Valerie plans to pursue a doctoral degree in the field of ecology. She aspires to a research career that will benefit the conservation of species impacted by anthropogenic activity, and inform the conscientious planning of urban areas. In her free time, Valerie enjoys spending time with her pets, reading, cooking, and growing plants.

Project Description:

Valerie’s project will examine how low-density urbanization influences the frequency of mating with individuals outside of the social pair in song sparrows (Melospiza melodia). She will use observations of song sparrow pairs and blood samples from offspring, social parents, and territorial males to determine paternity within individual nests across urban and rural habitat types.


  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Present scholarly work at conference, exhibition, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Take the GRE
  • Author or co-author a manuscript submitted for publication
  • Apply for the NSF GRF program
  • Apply for graduate or professional school

Completed benchmarks listed in italics

Valerie’s Mentor: Dr. Marby:

Dr. Karen Mabry is originally from South Carolina, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University before moving to the University of Georgia for her MS in Ecology and the University of California, Davis, for her PhD in Animal Behavior. She is an Associate Professor in the NMSU Biology Department, and recently completed a two-year stint as a Program Officer in the Animal Behavior Program at the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, VA. Her research focuses on the behavioral, ecological, and genetic responses of animals to environments that vary across space and through time. She is especially interested in how animals move through heterogeneous landscapes, and works with a variety of wild animal species, including small mammals, insects, and (with Valerie) birds. She enjoys spending time outdoors and spoiling her dogs.