Animal Ecologist Emily Cohen joins Appalachian Laboratory faculty

August 26, 2019

Dr. Emily Cohen has joined the faculty of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s (UMCES) Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, Maryland.  She comes to the Appalachian Laboratory most recently from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, where she served as a research ecologist with the Migratory Bird Center.    

 “We are very fortunate to have recruited a scientist who is already so accomplished in her field of animal migration studies,” said Dr. Eric Davidson, the director of the Appalachian Laboratory. “She will be a key player in our team dedicated to science-based management of natural resources.”

Cohen, who is originally from Tennessee, and her family are happy to fulfill a longstanding dream of returning to the Appalachian region after having lived in Michigan, California, Mississippi, and most recently Washington, D.C.

“We’re really enjoying the natural areas, outdoor activities, and having moved from D.C. in the summer, the cool mountain air,” she said of the move to western Maryland. 

Cohen, whose research focuses on forest songbird migration, joins the faculty as Assistant Professor of Animal Ecology.  In her work, she is particularly interested in identifying critical stopover habitats, places where birds land to rest and eat during their long migratory journeys. Stopover habitats,and the threats faced by birds during migration is crucial to understanding the causes of their declines.

“Migratory birds are rapidly declining, and understanding the role of migratory periods in these declines has broad implications for conservation efforts. Animal Migration, in general, is one of the most fascinating phenomena in the animal kingdom and solving the many remaining mysteries about animal migration is the focus of my research program.”

Dr. Emily Cohen

While much of her current work takes place on the Gulf of Mexico, Cohen notes that a lot concerning migration through the mountains of Appalachia is unexplored, and she looks forward to the opportunity to take on some of these research questions in the future.

Cohen also looks forward to collaborating with her UMCES and Appalachian Laboratory colleagues in future research activities.

“The work I do is a good fit with other research around forest dynamics taking place at UMCES,” said Cohen. “I’m excited to contribute to the great science at UMCES and the Appalachian Laboratory.”

Cohen is equally committed to collaborating with researchers and natural resource managers from other institutions.  n her first week at UMCES, she served as host for the annual meeting of the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (, a regional partnership of more than 55 state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and universities committed to habitat conservation for birds, wildlife and people in Appalachia. Cohen hosted over more than 30 representatives of government management agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, and research institutions from across the Appalachian Mountain states during the two-day meeting held at the Appalachian Laboratory from August 6-7.

Cohen holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi, a M.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University, and a B.Sc. in Biology from Appalachian State University. To learn more about Cohen’s research, visit