Stanford Science Fellow 2021-2024
NSF Postdoctoral Research in Biology “Rules of Life” Fellow 2021-2023
Department of Defense NDSEG Fellow, 2015-2018
Rhodes Scholar, 2013-2015
Dakota “Cody” McCoy is an evolutionary biologist who works at the intersection of photonics and biology. Currently, Cody is researching the photonic architecture of coral reefs - critically threatened, but essential, ecosystems. Many marine reef creatures are photosynthetic, living in symbiosis with algae or other microbes. To harness sunlight, coral and other animals evolved a wide array of intricate photonic adaptations. Cody investigates these natural technologies with three aims:
(i) Explain why corals are dying in large numbers due to global warming, while other photosynthetic creatures are resistant.
(ii) Reveal fundamental principles of photosynthesis, shining light on unexplored regions of the tree of life (the photosynthetic animals such as coral and heart cockles).
(iii) Discover novel photonic structures which could inspire new solar power technology or other materials.
Taken together, she aims to unravel evolutionary mysteries and help frame solutions to an ecological calamity: the widespread loss of coral reefs. Previously, Cody discovered anti-reflective “super black” birds and spiders that reflect less than 0.5 percent of incident light—work that inspired new research into solar panel materials and will appear in a forthcoming United Nations booklet on bioinspiration for sustainable design. First-author papers from her projects have appeared in Nature Communications, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and Current Biology.
McCoy, D.E.*, Shneidman, A.*, Davis, A, and Aizenberg, J. (2021). Finite-difference Time-domain (FDTD) Optical Simulations: A Primer for the Life Sciences and Bio-Inspired Engineering. Micron, 103160. [LINK]; [PDF version].
Frye, B.M., McCoy, D.E., Kotler, J., Embury, A., Burkart, J.M., Burns, M., Eyre, S., Galbusera, P., Hooper, J., Idoe, A. and Goya, A.L., in press. After short interbirth intervals, captive callitrichine monkeys have higher infant mortality. IScience, p.103724. [LINK]; [PDF version].
McCoy, D.E., Shultz, A.J., Vidoudez, C., van der Heide, E., Dall, J., Trauger, S.A., & Haig, D.A (2021). Microstructures amplify carotenoid signals in tanagers. Scientific Reports. 8582 (2021) [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D. E. and Haig, D. (2020). Embryo selection and mate choice: can ‘honest signals’ be trusted? Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 35(4), 308-318. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D.E. & Prum, R.O. (2019). Convergent evolution of super black plumage near bright color in 15 bird families. Journal of Experimental Biology, 222(18), jeb208140. [LINK]; [PDF version]
Miller, R., Frohnwieser, A., Schiestl, M., McCoy, D. E., Gray, R. D., Taylor, A. H., & Clayton, N. S. (2019). Delayed gratification in New Caledonian crows and young children: influence of reward type and visibility. Animal cognition, 23(1), 71-85. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D. E., Schiestl, M., Neilands, P., Hassall, R., Gray, R. D., & Taylor, A. H. (2019). New Caledonian Crows Behave Optimistically after Using Tools. Current Biology, 29(16), 2737-2742. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D. E.*, Frye, B. M.*, Kotler, J., Burkart, J. M., Burns, M., Embury, A., ... & Goya, A. L. (2019). A comparative study of litter size and sex composition in a large dataset of callitrichine monkeys. American journal of primatology, e23038. [LINK]; [PDF version]; * co-first authors
McCoy, D. E., McCoy, V. E., Mandsberg, N. K., Shneidman, A. V., Aizenberg, J., Prum, R. O., & Haig, D. (2019). Structurally assisted super black in colourful peacock spiders. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286(1902), 20190589. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D. E.*, Feo, T.*, Harvey, T. A., & Prum, R. O. (2018). Structural absorption by barbule microstructures of super black bird of paradise feathers. Nature communications, 9(1), 1. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D.E. (2018) Evolutionary Change. In: Shackelford T., Weekes-Shackelford V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, Pp. 1–16. Cham: Springer International Publishing. Springer, Cham. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D.E. (2018) Game Theory as a Foundation of Evolutionary Psychology. In: Shackelford T., Weekes-Shackelford V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Pp. 1–17. Cham: Springer International Publishing Springer, Cham. [LINK]; [PDF version]
Petelle, M. R., McCoy D.E., Alejandro, V.A., and Blumstein, D.T. (2013) Development of boldness and docility in yellow-bellied marmots. Animal Behaviour 86: 1147-1154. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D.E. (2012) Connecticut birds and climate change: Bergmann’s rule in the fourth dimension. The Northeastern Naturalist 19(2):323–334. [LINK]; [PDF version]
McCoy, D. E. and Norris, C.A. (2012) The Cranial Anatomy of the Miocene Notoungulate Hegetotherium mirabile (Notoungulata, Hegetotheriidae) with Preliminary Observations on Diet and Method of Feeding. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 53(2):355-374. [LINK]; [PDF version]