Iris Levin joined the Biology Department in 2019 following faculty appointments at Agnes Scott College and Grinnell College and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Colorado - Boulder. Levin received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri - St. Louis, where she worked in the Galapagos Islands studying seabirds and their parasites. Levin is an integrative biologist, and she and her students currently study the behavior and evolutionary ecology of barn swallows.

Levin's current research tests hypotheses about how phenotypic traits (e.g., plumage color) structure social interactions and social networks, and how social feedback affects aspects of physiology (e.g., stress response, androgen levels). Research in the Levin lab involves a combination of local field work on barn swallows during the spring and summer and lab work during the academic year. Levin and her collaborators are about to start a large project investigating how social interactions, migratory behavior, phenotype and genomic ancestry contribute to reproductive isolation in two barn swallow hybrid zones in Asia.

Areas of Expertise

Behavioral ecology, evolutionary ecology, disease ecology. 

Education

2012 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ of Missouri- St. Louis

2005 — Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College

Courses Recently Taught

This is the first laboratory course a student takes and is a prerequisite for all upper-division laboratory courses. Students are introduced to the processes of investigative biology and scientific writing. It is not designed to accompany any particular core lecture course. Laboratories cover topics presented in the core lecture courses, BIOL 115 and 116, and introduce a variety of techniques and topics, including field sampling, microscopy, PCR, gel electrophoresis, enzyme biochemistry, physiology, evolution and population biology. The course emphasizes the development of inquiry skills through active involvement in experimental design, data collection and management, statistical analysis, integration of results with information reported in the literature, and writing in a format appropriate for publication. The year culminates in six-week student-designed investigations that reinforce the research skills developed during the year. Evaluation is based on laboratory notebooks, lab performance, and scientific papers, as well as oral and written presentations summarizing the independent project. Enrollment is limited to 16 students in each section. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to BIOL 110Y for the spring semester. Prerequisite: completion or concurrent enrollment in BIOL 115 or equivalent. Required for the major.

This is the first laboratory course a student takes and is a prerequisite for all upper-division laboratory courses. Students are introduced to the processes of investigative biology and scientific writing. It is not designed to accompany any particular core lecture course. Laboratories cover topics presented in the core lecture courses, BIOL 115 and 116, and introduce a variety of techniques and topics, including field sampling, microscopy, PCR, gel electrophoresis, enzyme biochemistry, physiology, evolution and population biology. The course emphasizes the development of inquiry skills through active involvement in experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, integration of results with information reported in the literature and writing in a format appropriate for publication. The year culminates in six-week student-designed investigations that reinforce the research skills developed during the year. Evaluation is based on short reports, quizzes, lab performance and scientific papers, as well as oral and written presentations based on the independent project. Enrollment is limited to 16 students in each section. Prerequisite: completion or concurrent enrollment in BIOL 115 or equivalent. Required for the major.

This course is a general introduction to animal behavior. We will examine behavior within the framework of Tinbergen’s four areas of inquiry: causation (mechanisms), development, function and evolution (phylogeny) with an emphasis on behavioral ecology and the process by which questions in animal behavior are answered. An important part of class will be the reading and discussion of primary literature. This counts toward the upper-level environmental biology requirement for the major. Prerequisite: BIOL 115 or 116 or permission of instructor.

This course is an introduction to the study of animal behavior by observation and experimentation. Strong emphasis is placed on hypothesis formation, experimental design, testing, and communicating findings in professional science writing. We will work with a number of different animal species in both the field and the lab. Students should be aware that animals do not always "behave" in discrete, three-hour time periods, and that some work may have to be arranged outside of the regularly assigned class period. Prerequisite: BIOL 109Y–110Y. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 261. This counts toward the upper-level laboratory requirement.

This combined discussion and laboratory course aims to develop abilities for asking sound research questions, designing reasonable scientific approaches to answer such questions, and performing experiments to test both the design and the question. We consider how to assess difficulties and limitations in experimental strategies due to design, equipment, organism selected and so on. The course provides a detailed understanding of selected modern research equipment. Students select their own research problems in consultation with one or more biology faculty members. This course is designed both for those who plan to undertake honors research in their senior year and for those who are not doing honors but want practical research experience. A student can begin the course in either semester. If a year of credit is earned, it may be applied toward one laboratory requirement for the major in biology. This course is repeatable for credit. Prerequisite: BIOL 109Y–110Y and 116 and permission of instructor.

This course examines contemporary environmental problems, introducing the major concepts pertaining to human interactions with the biosphere. We will explore this interaction at both local and global scales. Course topics include basic principles of ecology (flows of energy, cycling of matter and the role of feedback), the impacts of human technology, the roots of our perceptions about and reactions to nature, the social and legal framework for responding to problems and economic issues surrounding environmental issues. We will discuss methods for answering questions regarding the consequences of our actions and, using a systems approach, focus on methods for organizing information to evaluate complex issues. The format of the course will be three-quarters discussion and lecture and one-quarter workshop. The workshops will include field trips, experience with collecting data, and application of systems thinking. This course taken at Kenyon, paired with any biology course, counts toward the natural science diversification requirement. This course is required for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every year.