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Kaiya Provost

Portrait of Richard Gilder Graduate Student Kaiya Provost

PhD Student, Richard Gilder Graduate School

Curriculum Vitae (short version)

Research Interests

Kaiya Provost is a Ph.D. student advised by Dr. Brian Smith. She earned her Bachelor’s at Cornell University studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology before moving to do her Master’s at Columbia University, also with Dr. Smith. Her broad research interests include phylogenetic systematics, behavioral ecology, biogeography, and computational biology.

Kaiya’s dissertation focuses on examining the nuances of speciation across biogeographic barriers. She is particularly interested in understanding how variation in individual organisms within populations interacts with higher-level processes such as diversification, as well as how differences in barriers themselves cause different organisms to speciate. Allopatric speciation is thought to be the major mode of diversification, but there are numerous examples of populations that fail to diverge across otherwise potent biogeographic barriers. Her work will combine next-generation sequencing, behavioral assays, ecological modeling, and morphometrics. With these techniques, a better understanding of what causes speciation will be possible.


In Preparation

Pian, R., Provost, K., Gill, L., and Cracraft, J. The First American Biotic Interchange: finding congruence in fossil and molecular data.


Provost, K., Joseph, L., and Smith, B.T. Resolving a phylogenetic hypothesis for parrots: implications from systematics to conservation. Emu - Austral Ornithology, 118(1), 2018.


Provost, K. 2015. Little Nightjar (Setopagis parvula), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online, 2015

Teaching Experience

  • Reading Assistant, Columbia University, Environmental Biology II, Instructors: Dr. Matt Palmer/Dr. Natalie Boelman/Dr. Paul Olsen. Led weekly lab section for undergraduates, held office hours, graded exams and lab reports. January 2016-May 2016
  • Reading Assistant, Columbia University, Environmental Biology I, Instructors: Dr. Shahid Naeem/Dr. Dustin Rubenstein. Led recitation section for undergraduates, held office hours, wrote and graded exams, guest lectured. August 2015-January 2016
  • Teaching Assistant, Cornell University, Human Biology and Evolution, Instructors: Dr. Jere Haas/Dr. Zhenglong Gu. Taught discussion sections for undergraduates, held office hours, wrote and graded exams and assignments. August 2013-January 2014