Q&A with Heather Watts

Heather Well.Providing excellent training and mentoring for students in a supportive and inclusive environment that values diversity is a priority for Heather Watts. An associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, she integrates behavior, physiology, ecology and evolution to investigate the relationships between environmental variation, life history patterns, and the behavior and physiology of individuals.

What is your main research topic?

My research focuses on understanding how animals time events in their annual cycle, like breeding and migration. We work mostly with birds in my lab and we study the cues in the environment that birds use to time these life events, as well as the physiological mechanisms involved in the transitions between these different events.

What classes do you teach at WSU?

For undergraduate students, I’ve taught ‘Science and Scientific Thinking’ and ‘Biology of Women’. I’ve also taught a graduate course in ‘Behavioral Ecology’.

What brought you to WSU Pullman?

Joining the School of Biological Sciences was an opportunity to grow my research program and to join an amazing department. The school has a long history of outstanding research in biology and physiology of birds. Coming to Pullman also brought me closer to field sites for my research.

How has COVID-19 changed how you teach?

I think the biggest change has been that I’ve tried to incorporate a lot more flexibility into my courses. This has really permeated all aspects of my courses, and it is something that I would like to keep moving forward.

What is one “fun fact” about you?

Before studying birds, my research focused on large mammals. I spent a lot of time living in Kenya studying spotted hyenas.

Learn more at the Watts Lab website.

Top image: Heather Watts

Adapted from WSU Pullman’s #FacultyFriday post on Facebook.