Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Teresa Feo

Research Associate
Department / Division
  • Ph.D., Yale University (2015)
  • BA., University of California, Berkeley (2007)
Research Interests

My research focuses on the evolution and function of morphological diversity. I primarily study feathers using a combination collections-based research, field and lab experiments, computer simulations, and cutting-edge 3D imaging technologies. My research projects include how birds use feathers to fly, make colors, and produce sound. I have studied how modern and Mesozoic feathers function during flight, how birds of paradise make one of the darkest materials known to man, and how hummingbirds make sounds with feathers during courtship displays. My goals are to improve our understanding of the evolution of important avian behaviors, such as courtship display and flight, and to inspire the design of new biomimetic technologies, including aerial vehicles and solar cells.

  • Berv, Jacob S., Campagna, Leonardo, Feo, Teresa J., Castro-Astor, Ivandy, Ribas, Camila C., Prum, Richard O., and Lovette, Irby J. 2021. "Genomic phylogeography of the White-crowned Manakin Pseudopipra pipra (Aves: Pipridae) illuminates a continental-scale radiation out of the Andes." Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 164:
  • Douglass, Kristina, Bulathsinhala, Priyangi, Feo, Teresa J., Tighe, Tim, Whittaker, Scott, Brand, Zanell, James, Helen, and Rick, Torben. 2021. "Modeling avian eggshell microstructure to predict ontogenetic age and reveal patterns of human-avifauna interaction." Journal of Archaeological Science 133:
  • Matloff, Laura Y., Chang, Eric, Feo, Teresa J., Jeffries, Lindsie, Stowers, Amanda K., Thomson, Cole, and Lentink, David. 2020. "How flight feathers stick together to form a continuous morphing wing." Science 367 (6475):293-297.
  • McCoy, Dakota E., Feo, Teresa, Harvey, Todd Alan, and Prum, Richard O. 2018. "Structural absorption by barbule microstructures of super black bird of paradise feathers." Nature Communications 9:1.
  • Feo, Teresa J., Simon, Emma, and Prum, Richard O. 2016. "Theory of the development of curved barbs and their effects on feather morphology." Journal of Morphology 277 (8):995-1013.
  • Feo, Teresa J., Field, Daniel J., and Prum, Richard O. 2015. "Barb geometry of asymmetrical feathers reveals a transitional morphology in the evolution of avian flight." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282 (1803):