Talia Moore, in Australia for fieldwork, studies animal biomechanics. Image: Christofer Clemente

EEB's Talia Moore won the Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow Award from the University of Michigan. The honor recognizes postdocs at the U-M who have demonstrated a breadth of excellence in all areas of research, teaching, mentoring, service and leadership. Each year, 10 postdoctoral fellows receive this honor and are awarded $500.

Erin Westeen began working with Moore in March 2017 as a senior undergraduate on a project that aims to understand how the coloration and behavior of harmless snakes interact to deter predators in a mimicry system.

“Talia brings her research and mentoring skills to the field,” Westeen wrote in a letter of support. “In the fall of 2017, I had the opportunity to travel to Peru to collect additional data for the project. Working in the Amazon rainforest with venomous snakes provides a number of challenges, but Talia has spent a great deal of time researching proper equipment for the climate, constructing safe enclosures, and writing protocols to ensure successful data collection. The high-speed video footage we have collected is the first dataset of its kind, and would not exist (or be maintained) without Talia’s dedication and expertise in this area of research.

“Beyond her commitment to mentorship, Talia performs world-class biomechanics research. She collaborates with engineers here at Michigan and maintains relationships with colleagues at Harvard. Since coming to Michigan, she has published her research many times over, including in top-tier journals such as Nature Communications, all while mentoring and advising multiple students. Moreover, Talia shares her research with the community at local events, such as the U-M Museum of Zoology’s ID Day. Everyone enjoyed Talia’s snake robot demonstration this year, and she was able to convey the importance of interdisciplinary biodiversity research to non-scientist community members.”

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the support and the freedom to do something totally new here at Michigan EEB,” said Moore. “Very few postdocs get the opportunity to establish a new model system and a new methodological approach, much less do both in the field. Plus, collecting data as part of the museum expeditions to Peru means that my work is intrinsically connected to so many aspects of evolution and ecology. This is only possible because of Alison's amazing mentorship, the stellar network of biologists and engineers at Michigan, and access to dedicated undergraduates who each provide their own valuable perspectives to the project.”

Moore works with her mentor, Professor Alison Davis Rabosky, who also supported her nomination. The awards are administered by the U-M Postdoctoral Association with support from Rackham Graduate School and the University of Michigan Medical School Postdoc Office. Funding for the award is provided by the U-M Office of Research, Rackham Graduate School and the U-M Medical School Postdoc Office.

In addition, Moore was the topic of a recent Science Career Profiles feature article,  “Why this postdoc is working to make venomous snake research safer and more inclusive.”