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The Clotfelter Lab at Amherst College is committed to creating an environment in which all students are equally and inclusively supported in their education and research training.

We are broadly interested in animal behavior, physiology, and functional morphology.  Most of our current work focuses on a long-term study of tree swallows (Tacycineta bicolor) breeding in Western Massachusetts and on convict cichlid fish (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) in Central America.  We also study biomechanics and behavior in crayfish (Procambarus and Faxonius spp.). 

Ethan Clotfelter, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
edclotfelter [at]

Ethan attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill before getting his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has spent most of his career studying birds before starting projects on fish and crayfish. He joined the faculty at Amherst College in 2003, and is now the Rufus Tyler Lincoln Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies. He is married with three children (one in college, two recently graduated!) and enjoys hiking and canoeing with his family and dog, scuba diving, and distance running.


2023-2024 lab members 

Lori Alarcon
Research assistant

Lori is from Englewood, FL. Her favorite bird from Florida is the sandhill crane, but she has come to love the songbirds of Massachusetts. After graduation she plans on going to medical school to become a pediatrician. On campus, she spends most of her time working in student government (she is president of the Association of Amherst Students, AAAS), in the bird sanctuary, or with her friends wherever an event gives out free boba. Her favorite hobby is taste-testing every Mexican restaurant in New England...she is still on the hunt to find the best and most authentic one! 

Agustina Gonzalez
Senior thesis student

Agustina was born in Rosario, Argentina, and grew up in Kearny, NJ before going back to Argentina for high school. She then started at Raritan Valley Community College (NJ) before transferring to Amherst College to finish her bachelor's degree in Biology. Some of her previous work includes interning at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Rosario, a capstone project focused on deer overabundance at RVCC, and a position as the Natural Resources Intern at Duke Farms, NJ. She has always been passionate about animal behavior and field biology and is eager to continue pursuing that passion. Apart from this, she enjoys being outdoors in all capacities, swimming, reading, and spending time with her dog, cat, and hermit crab!

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Zoe Strothkamp
Senior thesis student
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Zoe is a senior Biology major at Amherst College. She is from Portland, Oregon, and is pursuing a career in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. She recently completed a semester abroad in tropical ecology in Queensland, Australia with the School for Field Studies. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and camping, exploring coffeeshops, playing with her dogs, and watching the birds at her family’s feeder.

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