Avian Phylogenomics. The collection of DNA sequence data from thousands of genome-wide markers to answer evolutionary questions is now common. At the same time, phylogenetic techniques that make use of such large data sets in a coalescent framework have become available. I take advantage of these advances to revisit difficult phylogenetic problems in the avian tree of life, including songbirds, white-eyes, and trogons.
Biogeography. The high rate of endemism and complex geological history of the archipelagos of Southeast Asia present an exciting setting for uncovering avian diversification patterns and biogeographic history. In the Philippine archipelago, I use a phylogenetic framework in clarifying patterns of endemism, tempo and mode of assembly of different avian lineages.
Documenting Biodiversity. In insular Southeast Asia, as in many tropical regions, basic ornithological work is severely lacking. My career in ornithology started when colleagues and I discovered and described the Calayan Rail, a flightless bird species endemic to a small island in northern Philippines. This discovery made me realize the opportunities of studying birds in the region. Since then, I have helped describe two other new bird species and put together several species inventories. In studying the biogeography of the region in a phylogenetic framework, we uncover study after study the inadequacy of current avian taxonomy that underestimates diversity in the region. I plan on continuing this basic but necessary work that impacts conservation policy in a region with high pressures on its fauna and flora.