Klara K. Nordén




Iridescent colors produce some of the most stunning colors known in nature, such as the metallic blue feathers of a peacock. In my research, I try to understand the optics of the nanoscale structures in bird feathers that produce iridescence.


Birds are some of the most colorful vertebrates on the planet, and they exhibit an extraordinary diversity of iridescent nanostructures in their feathers. By studying the plumage of iridescent birds, I can ask questions about the function and evolution of iridescence.

Science communication

I am passionate about science communication, and have talked about my research to a broad range of audiences. I also produce a podcast about the science of natural history collections, and am active in science outreach and education initiatives at my university and at nearby museums.

About me

I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, USA. My research focuses on the evolution and function of iridescent colors in bird feathers. Iridescent colors create some of the most vibrant displays known in the animal world, and are incredibly widespread - yet we know very little about their function and evolution. How do birds produce iridescent colors? How did complex iridescent nanostructures evolve in feathers? What are the functions of iridescent colors in birds? To answer these questions, I use an interdisciplinary approach combining optical modelling, chemical analysis, imaging, microscopy, and evolutionary phylogenetic methods. Much of my research is conducted in natural history collections, and I run a podcast with the aim to advocate for the importance of biodiversity collections. I also engage in science outreach more broadly whenever I get the chance - which to me is one of the most rewarding parts of being a scientist.

Klara Nordén

PhD candidate


A sample of my most recent work

Evolution of brilliant iridescent feather nanostructures

Historical Contingency and Developmental Constraints in Avian Coloration

Melanosome diversity and convergence in the evolution of iridescent avian feathers

Brief CV


  • 2010-2012

    Lund, Sweden

    Gymnasium (high school)

  • 2013-2017

    University of Bristol
    Bristol, UK

    MSci Palaeontology and Evolution

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    Princeton University
    Princeton, USA

    PhD Candidate

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