The Clotfelter Lab is part of the Department of Biology at Amherst College in Amherst, MA.  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 crayfish (Procambarus clarkii and Faxonius rusticus) biomechanics. 

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

Ethan attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill before getting his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He spent most of his early career studying birds, then started working on fish and crayfish more than a decade ago.  He joined the faculty at Amherst College in 2003.  Currently he is a Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Amherst.  He is married with three young adult children and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and dog, scuba diving, and distance running.

Kailey Tobin
Research Specialist
ktobin [at] amherst.edu

Kailey joined the lab in 2020.  She grew up in Amherst and attended Colgate University.  She received her BA in Biology in 2019.  She wrote her senior honors thesis about black-capped chickadees' ability to cope with oxidative stress when dealing with temperature variation as a model for how small songbirds may cope with climate change.  She hopes to attend veterinary school with a focus in large animal ambulatory medicine, working mostly with dairy cattle.  She is the happy owner of Argos, a border collie lab mix.  She enjoys running and hiking, learning to read Latin, and practicing archery.

2020-2021 lab members 

Derek Benson '21
Senior Thesis student

Derek is a senior biology major at Amherst College.  From Dubuque Iowa, he has a passion for all animal life with a special interest in reptiles.  He has worked on fruit-fly genetics, plant evolution, and bird speciation.  For his senior honors research, he plans to study the material properties of crayfish exoskeletons.  In his free time Derek likes to play guitar, read science fiction, and play soccer.  After Amherst, he hopes to pursue a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology, zoology, or animal behavior.

Student TBD
Title TBD

This could be you!  Write to Ethan Clotfelter at edclotfelter [a] amherst.edu to find out more!

Samantha Rothberg '21
Senior thesis student

Sam is a senior biology major from Scarsdale, NY.  For her senior thesis research she is studying black-capped chickadee social networks and their relationship to weather and food availability. She is interested in pursuing a PhD in mathematical ecology.  In her free time, Sam can be found hiking, climbing, or reading Harry Potter.  She is a devoted fan of Val smoothies, and has the flavor schedule memorized.

sam zhang.jpg
Sam Zhang '21
Senior thesis student

Sam is a senior biology major from the Boston area. For his honors thesis, he is studying the relationship between blow fly parasitism and telomere shortening in tree swallows.  Sam lives the double life of an outdoorsy birder and a shut-in sci-fi junkie, and he is the nemesis of tidy trail bikes.  Seeing a black sicklebill in New Guinea is a recurring daydream.  He plans to study tropical biology and rural medicine after college.