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Susan M. Tsang
Ph.D. Candidate
Office: Marshak 819
Email: susan.m.tsang[at]
Curriculum Vitae
Research Video
I am broadly interested in the phylogeography of Southeast Asian animals, particularly that of flying foxes (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae: Pteropus). Pteropus is an ideal focal taxon for Southeast Asian biogeographic studies because it is: 1) found everywhere in the region; 2) species-rich with several widespread species and many island endemics; and 3) relatively easy to sample. The species richness of Pteropus, their unique distributions, and their distinct life histories make them well-suited to investigating mechanisms of divergence using genetic data among populations or between species. Vicariant and ecologically driven divergence each leave distinctive molecular signatures in descendent populations that can inform phylogeographic studies. I aim to use multilocus statistical phylogeographic methods to examine questions related to the biogeography of flying foxes such as:
  1. What is the evolutionary history of the genus Pteropus in Asia and what role did the region's complex geography play in diversification?
  2. Has vicariance or ecological divergence driven the diversification of Pteropus?
  3. What are the most common dispersal routes of widespread species and how frequent is dispersal? What are the population sizes and metapopulation structures of widespread Pteropus species?
Ultimately, these findings related to population dynamics can be used for studying disease ecology of pathogens that flying foxes are a natural reservoir host for. Moreover, reconstructing a species tree for Pteropus will allow us to answer other questions related to biogeography and diversification of the genus in the geologically complex landscape of Southeast Asia.

I am currently funded on the NIH 1R21AI105050 grant: "Diversity and dispersal potential of bat-borne zoonotic viruses in the Indo-Australian Archipelago." This project is a novel collaboration between the Lohman Lab (CCNY), the Simmons Lab (AMNH) and the Dhanasekaran and Smith Labs (Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore). This project is an extension of a collaboration I built while away on an NSF EAPSI in Singapore and of an existing collaboration between myself and Indonesian mammalogist Sigit Wiantoro (LIPI).

2009 - Ph.D. in Biology (EEB) (The Graduate Center at CUNY)
2012 - 2013Fulbright Scholar (University of Indonesia, Indonesia)
2005 - 2009B.A. in Biology and East Asian Studies, minor in Geosciences, magna cum laude (Skidmore College)

2009 - 2011Research Student, Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History
Advisors: Associate Curator George Barrowclough and Dr. Jeff Groth
Classification of three putative Australasian hawks based on RAG-1 exon
2010 - 2011Research Student, Department of Mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History
Advisors: Curator and Prof. Nancy Simmons and Dr. Paul Velazco
Chiropteran dental morphology
Summer 2008NSF REU Intern, Fisheries Section, Patrick Center for Environmental Research, Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia
Advisors: Dr. Richard Horwitz and Mr. Anthony Geneva
Distribution, population structure, and molecular genetics of the bridle shiner (Notropis bifrenatus)
2006 - 2008Molecular Ecology Student Researcher, Department of Biology, Skidmore College
Advisor: Dean and Prof. Corey R. Freeman-Gallant
Honors Thesis: Sexual selection on multiple plumage traits in the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Malarial infection in common yellowthroats in regards to male fitness
Summer 2006NSF REU Intern, Department of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History
Advisors: Curator John J. Flynn and Dr. Colleen Ingram
Phylogeny of Mammalian order Carnivora through combined genetic assays

2013Young Explorers Grant, Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society
2013Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution 2013 Student Travel Grant
2012Lewis and Clark Exploration Fund, American Philosophical Society
2011Presidential Research Fund for Ph.D. Students Travel Grant, CUNY Graduate Center
Summer 2011NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
2010 - 2011NSF Science Now GK-12 Graduate Teaching Fellow

2011 - 2012Graduate Assistant, Department of Biology, City College of New York
2008 - 2009Teaching Assistant, Department of Biology, Skidmore College
2007 - 2009Peer Tutor, Student Academic Services, Skidmore College
2007 - 2008Peer Mentor, First-Year Experience, Skidmore College

Sheherazade and S.M. Tsang. 2015. Quantifying the bat bushmeat trade in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, with suggestions for conservation action. Global Ecology and Conservation 3: 324-330. [Abstract/pdf]
Lohman, D.J. and S.M. Tsang. 2014. Book Review: Biogeography of Australasia: A Molecular Analysis (Heads, M.). A manifesto of panbiogeography: Australasian edition. Frontiers in Biogeography 6(4): 191-193. [Abstract/pdf]
Barrowclough, G.F., J.G. Groth, J.E. Lai, & S.M. Tsang. 2014. The phylogenetic relationships of the endemic genera of Australo-Papuan hawks, Journal of Raptor Research 48(1): 36-43. [Abstract]
Freeman-Gallant, C.R., Taff, C.C., Morin, D.F., Dunn, P.O., Whittingham, L.A., and Tsang, S.M. 2010. Sexual selection, multiple male ornaments and age- and condition-dependent signaling in the common yellowthroat, Evolution 64: 1007 - 1017. [Abstract]

201444th Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research, Albany, NY
Molecular phylogeny of the genus Pteropus and its biogeographic implications
Tsang, S.*, S. Wiantoro, M.J. Veluz, N. Sugita, N. Simmons, D. Lohman
  • Won "Luis F. Bacardi Bat Conservation Award" (for platform paper on plant-visiting bats)
2013City College Academy for Professional Preparation Annual Poster Presentation, City College of New York, New York, NY
Population genetics of Pteropus alecto and its implications for disease ecology (Poster)
Nguyen, Y-L.,* S.M. Tsang, D.J. Lohman
201316th International Bat Research Conference & 43rd North American Symposium on Bat Research, San Jose, Costa Rica
Integration of local culture in flying fox conservation strategies in North Sulawesi, Indonesia: A preliminary framework
Tsang, S.M.* & Sheherazade
20132nd Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution Meeting, Berlin, Germany
Preliminary multilocus phylogeographic assessment of Pteropus bats in Southeast Asia (Poster)
Tsang, S.M.*, S. Wiantoro, N.B. Simmons, D.J. Lohman
201350th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Asia-Pacific Chapter, Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Bats as bushmeat in North Sulawesi and a preliminary conservation framework (Poster)
Sheherazade* & S.M. Tsang
2012Invited departmental seminar, Center for Biodiversity Strategies, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia
Pteropus bats in Indonesia
Tsang, S.M.*
2012Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit Workshop, Hat Yai, Thailand
The importance of taxonomy to conservation
Tsang, S.M.*
2012Invited oral presentation, Education Department, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
Evolution of flying foxes in Southeast Asia
Tsang, S.M.*
201141st Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research, Toronto, ON
Amplification of novel nuclear genes from fecal samples of Paleotropical fruit bats
Tsang, S.M.*
2010Evolution 2010, Portland, OR
Comparative phylogeographic inference from 64 taxon pairs of Neotropical birds using ABC
Tsang, S.M.*, Hickerson, M., Burney, C., McCormack, J., Brumfield, R.
2008Sigma Xi Annual Meeting & Student Research Conference, Washington, D.C.
Distribution, population structure, and molecular genetics of the bridle shiner (Poster)
Tsang, S.*, Horwitz, R., Geneva, A.
  • Won "Superior Presentation Award - Ecology & Evolution"

2014 - Commission Member, IUCN Bat Specialist Group
2011 - Student Representative Member, Taxonomy and Systematics Working Group, Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit
2011 - 2012Scientific Review Committee Member and Judge, New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF)

Department of Biology :: City College of New York :: City University of New York
160 Convent Avenue :: New York, NY 10031 USA
Marshak Science Building 802
(212) 650-8588