Katie Murtough

Katie Murtough


Name: Katie Murtough
Position: DPhil Student
Email: katie.murtough@zoo.ox.ac.uk


I’m a biologist with complementary academic and professional training in both anthropology and public policy. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Cal Poly Pomona in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Animal Science and Anthropology (double major) and a minor in Physiology. I recently completed a Master of Science (M.S.) in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development and a Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. I have worked in zoological and in-situ based conservation programs for the past 15 years and as a result have gained diverse research and field experience in animal welfare and conservation as well as human rights protections in the sciences and the environment. In terms of my doctoral research, this multi-disciplinary perspective has led to a desire to approach conservation issues from both a biological and ethnographic lens, bridging Western scientific frameworks with traditional ecological knowledge systems.

Research Activities

My current research interests are in Neotropical conservation, psittacine ecology, ethno-ornithology, and indigenous land rights policy and I have worked in the field alongside the Ese’eja Peoples of Peru and the Kayapó Peoples of Brazil.  Presently, I work with Associação Floresta Protegida, Aldeia A’Ukre, and the Kayapó Field Course on a long-term project to document the ecology of Amazonian hyacinth macaw and the Kayapó Peoples’ traditional ecological knowledge of local parrot species. This prior work – and its continuation as part of my proposed doctoral research – will directly support the Kayapó community of A’Ukre and is part of an ongoing effort to strengthen Kayapó capacity for territorial monitoring and control of their highly threatened forests in southeastern Amazonia.

My proposed doctoral research, supervised by Dr. Andrew G. Gosler, provides an exciting opportunity in the development of the ethno-ornithology – bio-conservation axis that the University of Oxford has been developing over a number of years between the Department of Zoology, BirdLife International, and the School of Anthropology.  Additionally, our research has the potential to revitalize the human rights and ethnobiology work with the Kayapó Peoples that the late Darrell Posey first brought to Oxford in the early 1990’s, providing a much-needed assessment of Amazonian hyacinth macaw numbers and contributing novel data on Kayapó culture to the fields of linguistics, anthropology and ethnobiology.  Finally, it is our hope that this collaborative work with the Kayapó Peoples contributes to global human rights, conservation, and sustainable development policy-making by continuing to illustrate the very important role indigenous communities play in maintaining global biodiversity.

Note: My past research was in the fields of comparative nutrition; lactation biology, hand-rearing formula development, and primatology/human biology. Much of this work took place under the supervision of Dr. Michael L. Power at the National Zoo’s Exotic Animal Milk Repository and Nutrition Lab. I continue to be engaged in collaborations with scientists at the National Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and serve as an advisory board member for the Hand Rearing Resource Center. While these fields are no longer the primary focus of my current research, they bear continued relevance to my multidisciplinary approach to conservation work. 

Select Publications

Power, M.L., Watts, M., Murtough, K.L., & Knight, F.M. (2018). Macronutrient Composition of Milk of Captive Nine-Banded Armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus). Journal of Mammology99(2), 498-504.

Power, M.L., Schulkin, J., Drought, H., Milligan, L.A., Murtough, K.L., & Bernstein, R. M. (2016). Patterns of milk macronutrients and bioactive molecules across lactation in a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and a Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). American Journal of Primatology, 79(3), 1-11.

Petzinger, C., Oftedal, O. T., Jacobsen, K., Murtough, K. L., Irlbeck, N. A., & Power, M. L. (2014). Proximate composition of milk of the bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) in comparison to other African bovids and to hand‐rearing formulas. Zoo Biology33(4), 305-313.