Rebecca Calisi, Ph.D.



Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology


Rebecca Calisi, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley

"Studying the Bird Brains of Parents"

Rebecca Calisi established new lines of research examining how the molecular mechanisms that underlie the inhibitory effects of stress on reproductive physiology. She has also developed a method of using her main study organism, the pigeon, as a bioindicator of lead contamination hot spots in cities, a line of research that has translational implications for both human and animal health.

Professor Calisi’s work has been supported by funding from NSF and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The impact of Dr. Calisi’s independent thinking is evident in her 2014 review assessing the role of gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH), where she argued that integrating evolutionary and mechanistic levels of analyses will be essential for understanding the function of GnIH. Additionally, in 2015, she published a review in Current Opinions of Behavioral Sciences describing how high throughput sequencing could be used by behavioral endocrinologists to enhance our understanding of animal behavior. A 2018 news article in Nature profiled Dr. Calisi as one of six “thought leaders” in extending genome sequence analysis. This group included Dr. George Church (Harvard) and Dr. Elaine Mardis (Children’s Hospital, Ohio State Univ.). She was also invited as a “Rising Star” to participate in the Wisconsin Symposium on Feminist Biology.

Dr. Calisi was recently appointed as Science Communications Creative Strategist for the NIH Director’s Office Data Commons Project. She produced and created, hosted, filmed, and produced a popular video entitled, “Studying Bird Brains: Not Such a Bird-Brained Idea!), in which she interviewed many members of SBN and SfN on the importance of studying bird brains.