Dr. Carla Dove is a Research Scientist in the Department of Ornithology at the National Museum of Natural History. Her expertise is in the field of microscopic and molecular identification of feathers. She applies forensic methodologies to determine species of birds from fragmentary evidence using microscopy, whole feather comparisons with museum specimens and DNA barcoding. An important application of this research is to the field of aviation safety in determining the identifications of birds that strike aircraft such as the one that caused US Airways flight 1549 to crash into the Hudson River on 15 January 2009.
The information resulting from the research by Dr. Dove’s group is used by civil and military aviation to design safer engines and windshields, to create an Air Force data base that is used to predict bird movements and provide bird hazard warnings to pilots, and to improve habitat management schemes at airfields to discourage bird use.
Dr. Dove often collaborates with scientists in the fields of anthropology, ecology and evolutionary biology. She has served as a consultant to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Division, the FBI, the US Air Force, US Navy, US Customs, US Fish & Wildlife Service, the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board and many aircraft engine manufacturers. An author of numerous articles for both aviation and scientific publications, Dr. Dove has gained international recognition for her work.
She is a member of the AOU, where she serves on the Archives Committee, the Cooper Ornithological Society and the Wilson Ornithological Society where she is a member of the Council and chair of the Student Awards Committee. She was elected as a member of the Washington Biologists Field Club in 2007.
Dr. Dove began at the Smithsonian in 1989 as a museum technician and went on to complete her PhD in environmental science and public policy at George Mason University in 1998. She holds an MS in systematics, evolution and population biology from George Mason University and a BS in wildlife biology from the University of Montana. She also completed studies in natural resource management at Lord Fairfax Community College and was honored as an inductee into the Virginia Community College System’s Hall of Fame. She has served as an affiliate professor at George Mason University and is currently training an FBI intern on the intricacies of microscopic feather identification.