Sex And Biology: Broader Impacts Beyond The Binary.


What are the implications of misunderstanding sex as a binary and why is it essential for scientists to incorporate a more expansive view of biological sex in our teaching and research? This roundtable will include many of our symposium speakers, including biologists and intersex advocates, to discuss these topics and visibilize the link between ongoing reification of dyadic sex within scientific communities and the social, political, and medical oppression faced by queer, transgender, and especially intersex communities. As with the symposium as a whole, this conversation is designed to bring together empirical research and implementation of equity, inclusion and justice principles which are often siloed into separate rooms and conversations at academic conferences. Given the local and national attacks on the rights of intersex individuals and access to medical care and bodily autonomy, this interdisciplinary discussion is both timely and urgent.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Sharpe, Sam L, Andrew P Anderson, Idelle Cooper, Timothy Y James, Alexandra E Kralick, Hans Lindahl, Sara E Lipshutz, JF McLaughlin, et al. (2023). Sex And Biology: Broader Impacts Beyond The Binary. Integrative and comparative biology. p. icad113. 10.1093/icb/icad113 Retrieved from

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Sara E Lipshutz

Assistant Professor of Biology

Our research focuses on the evolution of behavior across weird and wonderfully diverse species of birds. This work bridges “muddy boots” experimental fieldwork with a variety of molecular and computational approaches in genetics, genomics, neuroscience, and endocrinology. We have several research foci:  


1. Female perspectives in biology. Cultural biases shape our predictions for how and why animals behave the way they do, and female animals have historically been neglected in biological research. We study the evolution of female competition across diverse avian species, ranging from social polyandry to monogamy in shorebirds and songbirds. Critically, hypotheses derived from studying males (i.e. testosterone focus) do not explain interspecific variation in female aggression. We use population genomic and transcriptomic data to evaluate the proximate causes and ultimate consequences of female competition.  


2. Global change biology. In the age of the Anthropocene, animals are facing evolutionary unprecedented environmental changes. Sensory pollutants like anthropogenic noise and artificial light at night can alter animal physiology, behavior, and ecology on a rapid timescale. Behavior flexibility and adaptation may lead the way in helping animals respond to novel challenges. We investigate why some individuals and species may be better prepared to face global change.  

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