Susan Finkbeiner

Susan Finkbeiner
Postdoctoral Associate

Department of Ecology and Evolution
1101 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Susan’s current work involves a comprehensive analysis of the evolutionary mechanisms underlying adaptive phenotypic variation across a rapidly diversifying lineage of butterflies, with the central goal of understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape temporal and spatial patterns of biodiversity.

Her previous research has used neotropical Heliconius butterflies to examine how natural and sexual selection work together to favor the evolution of specific animal phenotypes, how aposematic signaling may drive the evolution of social behavior in the context of visual ecology, and how specialized visual systems coevolve with specialized visual cues.


Ph.D. (2015) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Irvine
Concentration: Visual signaling, evolution, and behavior in Heliconius butterflies
Advisors: Dr. Adriana Briscoe, Dr. Robert Reed

B.Sc. (2009) Entomology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Honors Distinction in Research
Concentration: Range expansion in butterfly populations
Advisors: Dr. John Losey, Dr. Ann Hajek


(2017-Present) Postdoctoral Research Scholar
University of Chicago – Ecology and Evolution
Concentration: Evolutionary processes driving butterfly diversity
Advisor: Dr. Marcus Kronforst

(2015-2017) Postdoctoral Research Associate
Boston University – Biology
Concentration: Ecological processes drivingbutterfly diversity
Advisor: Dr. Sean Mullen


Finkbeiner, S. D. In revision. Evidence for communal roost size regulation in Heliconius erato butterflies (Nymphalidae).

Palmer, D. H., Y. Q. Tan, S. D. Finkbeiner, A. D. Briscoe, A. Monteiro, and M. R. Kronforst. 2018. Experimental field tests of Batesian mimicry in the swallowtail butterfly Papilio polytes. Ecology and Evolution. 8:7657-7666.

Finkbeiner, S. D., P. Salazar, S. Nogales, C. Rush, A. D. Briscoe, R. I. Hill, M. R. Kronforst, K. R. Willmott, and S. P. Mullen. 2018. Frequency-dependence shapes the adaptive landscape of imperfect Batesian mimicry. Proceedings of the Royal Society London. 285:20172786

Kristiansen*, E. B., S. D. Finkbeiner*, L. Prusa, R. I. Hill, and S. P. Mullen. 2018Testing the adaptive hypothesis of Batesian mimicry among hybridizing North American admiral butterflies. Evolution. 72:1436-1448. *Equal contribution author.

Finkbeiner, S. D., D. A. Fishman, D. Osorio, and A. D. Briscoe. 2017. Ultraviolet and yellow reflectance but not fluorescence is important for visual discrimination of conspecifics by Heliconius eratoJournal of Experimental Biology. doi:10.1242/jeb.153593

Finkbeiner, S. D., A. D. Briscoe, and S. P. Mullen. 2016. Complex dynamics underlie the evolution of imperfect wing pattern convergence in butterflies. Evolution. 71:949-959.

Finkbeiner, S. D., A. D. Briscoe, and R. D. Reed. 2014. Warning signals are seductive: Relative contributions of color and pattern to predator avoidance and mate attraction in Heliconius butterflies. Evolution. 68(12):3410-3420.

Finkbeiner, S. D. 2014Communal roosting in Heliconius butterflies (Nymphalidae): Roost recruitment, establishment, fidelity, and resource use trends based on age and sex. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 68(1):10-16.

Finkbeiner, S. D., A. D. Briscoe, and R. D. Reed. 2012. The benefit of being a social butterfly: communal roosting deters predation. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B. 279(1739): 2769-2776.

Finkbeiner, S. D., R. D.  Reed, R. Dirig, and J. E. Losey. 2011. The role of environmental factors in the northeastern range expansion of Papilio cresphontes Cramer (Papilionidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 65(2):119-125.