John McCormack photo
Director and Curator of the Moore Laboratory of Zoology; Professor, Biology
B.S., University of Arizona; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Appointed In
Moore Laboratory of Zoology 250A

Dr. McCormack uses museum specimens and genomes to study the evolutionary history of birds, focusing especially on how both ancient landscape changes and more recent human-caused environmental changes affect birds’ distributions, appearance, and DNA. As Director of the Moore Laboratory of Zoology and Curator of its bird and mammal collection, he is a champion of museum collections and their potential for understanding and reversing the biodiversity crisis.

  • video interview for Scientific American on Moore Lab's efforts to create 3D models for bird specimens
  • Read his  op-ed in the L.A. Times on threats to public museums
  • Travel along with the Moore Lab in Mexico in this video on their effort to resurvey disappearing birdlife
  • Regional representative-at-large for the Natural Science Collections Alliance
  • Follow on Twitter for posts about birds, museums, and genomes
  • Follow the Moore Lab's Instagram to get a behind-the-scenes look at museum science in action

Recent Publications (undergraduates underlined)


  • Bio 280 - Evolutionary Biology - each Fall semester (required for Bio majors and great for non-majors)
  • Bio 360 - Avian Biology - every other Spring
  • Bio 326 - Molecular Phylogenetics - every other Spring
  • Bio 310 - Museum Science - taught occassionally
  • Bio 490 - Senior Seminar (Comps) - taught occassionally
  • Bio 395 - Mentored Research - reach out by e-mail to inquire about research possibilities

Key Publications

NSF Grants

  • Digitization PEN: oBird: 3D Photogrammetry of Museum Specimens for Phenomics across the Avian Tree of Life (DBI 2001652) | Abstract
  • MRI: Launching an undergraduate-driven Genomics Center through acquisition of an Illumina MiSeq (DBI 1828738) | Abstract
  • CAREER: Integrating undergraduate research, citizen science, and museum genomics to explore a century of change in North American birds (DEB 1652979) | Abstract
  • RUI: CSBR: Natural History: Securing and digitizing the world’s largest Mexican bird collection (DBI 1349179) | Abstract
  • RUI: Collaborative Proposal: Genomic approaches to comparative phylogeography in a biodiversity hotspot (DEB 1258205) | Abstract
  • EAGER: RUI: The genomic architecture of speciation in an avian hybrid zone (DEB 1244739) | Abstract