2019 Early Professional Award Winners: Karan Odom, Kyle Horton, & David Toews

In the lead-up to our annual meeting in Anchorage, we’ll be highlighting the winners of this year’s AOS awards on the blog. This week, the 2019 Early Professional Awards.

The American Ornithological Society (AOS) is pleased to announce Dr. Karan Odom, Dr. Kyle Horton, and Dr. David Toews as the 2019 recipients of the society’s Early Professional Awards, the James G. Cooper Early Professional Award and the Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award.

The James G. Cooper Early Professional Award recognizes early-career ornithological researchers (through the end of their third year post terminal degree) for their outstanding contributions in any field of ornithology. First awarded in 2009 by the Cooper Ornithological Society, this award recognizes early-career researchers for outstanding scientific research and contributions to the ornithological profession. The 2019 James G. Cooper Early Professional Awards are presented to Dr. Karan Odom and Dr. Kyle Horton.

Karan is currently an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Mike Webster’s lab at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Her research focuses on the evolution of elaborate traits, specifically song, in female as well as male birds. She combines large-scale phylogenetic comparative methods and field studies to evaluate the evolutionary pressures that have led to similar songs in males and females of some species and strong dimorphism (including loss of female song) in other species. She began her ornithological career under the mentorship of Jed Burtt as an undergraduate at Ohio Wesleyan University and then went on to complete her M.S. with Dan Mennill at the University of Windsor and her Ph.D. with Kevin Omland at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Karan is also a co-founder of The Female Bird Song Project, a citizen science initiative aimed at increasing female bird song recordings in biological collections. Karan is very interested in promoting women in science, which she does through extensive mentorship of young women researchers and joining her colleagues in pointing to the prominent role women scientists have played in discoveries about female bird song. She was selected as an Elective Member of AOS in 2017.

Kyle is currently a Rose Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; he is working on leveraging remote-sensing tools, like radar, to better understand how many migrants fill the nighttime airspace, determine where and when migrants are impacted by artificial light, and how radar can be used to forecast and mitigate these impacts. He received his B.S. in Biology from Canisius College in 2011, where his interest in ornithology and migration ecology was sparked while working alongside Sara Morris. He completed his M.S. in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in 2013 with Jeffrey Buler and his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oklahoma in 2017 with Jeffrey Kelly. His work has been published in a broad range of journals and has been covered by NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Science, Nature, and many other media outlets. Kyle works on BirdCast, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology program aimed at making migration forecasts accessible to scientists, conservationists, and bird watchers alike. Kyle will be joining Colorado State University as an assistant professor in fall 2019.

The Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award recognizes work by an ornithologist early in his or her career (four to seven years post terminal degree) who shows distinct promise for future leadership in the profession. The American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) established this award in 2006 to honor Ned K. Johnson, a lifelong supporter of the AOU and its former president (1996–1998). The 2019 Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award is presented to Dr. David Toews.

David joined the Biology Department at Pennsylvania State University in January of 2019. His lab utilizes genomic tools to address questions about avian evolution, and identifying the genes that underlie important ecological traits, such as plumage or migration behavior. His work has mostly been focused on New World wood warblers and hybrid zones between closely-related warbler species.

David was most recently a postdoctoral researcher in Irby Lovette’s lab at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where he held an NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. At Cornell, David worked on several research projects, including understanding the genomic consequences of extensive hybridization between Golden-winged and Blue-winged warblers. David also contributed to teaching at Cornell, including a weekly graduate discussion group focused on “non-model genomics” as well as undergraduate field courses to the Galapagos and Patagonia. David obtained both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia, under the supervision of Darren Irwin. There he studied behavioral, physiological, and genetic interactions among subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warblers and between Pacific and Winter wrens. David is passionate about avian natural history and conservation as well as translating evolutionary biology research to a broad and diverse audience. Awardees receive a cash prize, travel funding to attend the annual AOS meeting, and a framed certificate, and are invited to present plenary talks at the meeting. In recognition of their outstanding work in the early years of their careers, AOS is pleased to recognize Dr. Odom, Dr. Horton, and Dr. Toews with this year’s Early Professional Awards.

2019 Stettenheim Award Winners: Mark Hauber & Phil Stouffer

Phil Stouffer (left) and Mark Hauber (right).

In the lead-up to our annual meeting in Anchorage, we’ll be highlighting the winners of this year’s AOS awards on the blog. This week, the 2019 Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award.

In 2018, the American Ornithological Society (AOS) established the Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award, intended to carry on the tradition of the Cooper Honorary Member Award, one of the oldest awards in ornithology, which was discontinued when the Cooper Ornithological Society merged with the American Ornithologists’ Union to form AOS in 2016. This award is made in honor of a senior ornithologist who has provided extraordinary service to AOS. In 2019, the award is being presented jointly to Dr. Philip Stouffer and Dr. Mark Hauber.

Phil Stouffer was Associate Editor of The Auk from 2002 to 2013 and Editor-in-Chief of The Condor: Ornithological Applications from 2013 to 2019. As the focus of the journal changed from general ornithology to applied ornithology, Dr. Stouffer managed the transition smoothly, raising the impact factor of the journal to first place among ornithology journals worldwide in the process. In addition to his decade-long stint as an editor for the society’s journals, Dr. Stouffer also served as Scientific Program Chair for the North American Ornithological Congress in New Orleans in 2002 and has been a judge for Cooper Ornithological Society Student Presentation Awards and AOS Student Presentation Awards. Dr. Stouffer received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1989 and is currently the Lee F. Mason Professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA.

Mark Hauber was Associate Editor of The Auk from 2009 to 2011 and Editor-in-Chief of The Auk: Ornithological Advances from 2013 to 2018. Like Dr. Stouffer, Dr. Hauber expertly marshalled The Auk through the change from a general journal of ornithology to a journal that focused on fundamental knowledge of birds and the examination of broad biological concepts through study of birds. In addition to his singular editorial contributions, Dr. Hauber has served as a member of the society’s Student Awards Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Communications Committee, and Publications Committee. He has been an outstanding advocate for diversity in the society, both raising awareness and encouraging participation. Dr. Hauber completed his Ph.D. at Cornell University in 2002 and is currently the Harley Jones Van Cleave Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior at the School of Integrative Biology of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.

In recognition of their outstanding service to AOS publications, the society is proud to recognize Mark Hauber and Phil Stouffer as the second recipients of the Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award.

2019 Jenkinson Award Winner: Alice Boyle

In the lead-up to our annual meeting in Anchorage, we’ll be highlighting the winners of this year’s AOS awards on the blog. This week, the 2019 Marion Jenkinson Service Award.

The Marion Jenkinson Service Award is given to an individual who has performed continued extensive service to the American Ornithological Society (AOS), including holding elected offices but emphasizing volunteered contributions and committee participation. The award honors Marion Jenkinson Mengel, who served the American Ornithologists’ Union as treasurer and in other capacities for many years, and consists of a framed certificate and an honorarium. The 2019 award is presented to Dr. Alice Boyle.

Alice is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. She earned a B.Mus. in viola performance at the University of British Columbia, then changed her career path to avian ecology, completing her Ph.D. in 2006 at the University of Arizona. Following her Ph.D., she spent the next five years on prestigious postdoctoral fellowships at the Universities of Western Ontario and British Columbia before taking up her present faculty position in 2012. While Alice has an impressive record of research achievement, with 34 publications in ecology and ornithology, she has also tirelessly served the Cooper Ornithological Society, American Ornithologists’ Union, and now AOS in the six years since she became a faculty member at Kansas State. From 2013 to 2016, for example she served on the COS Board, simultaneously serving on their Student Presentation Awards Committee and chairing their Publications Committee from 2014 to 2016. When the AOU and COS began to jointly publish The Auk and The Condor, she became co-chair of the societies’ joint Publications Advisory Committee. Alice continues to chair this committee today, and provided leadership throughout the merger of the two societies in 2016 and the transition to the new journal publishing partnership with Oxford University Press in 2018. She also chaired the committee to identify a new editor for The Auk in 2018.

In recognition of her outstanding and diverse service to AOS and its predecessor societies, the society is proud to name Alice Boyle as the recipient of the 2019 Marion Jenkinson Service Award.

Congratulations 2019 Student & Postdoctoral Travel Award Winners

This year, AOS is providing a record amount of travel funding — over $125,000 — to students and postdoctoral researchers attending our upcoming annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. These awards make it possible for early-career ornithologists who lack other funding sources to participate in our annual meetings, present their research, and take advantage of professional development opportunities. Congratulations to all of this year’s travel award recipients, and thank you to the awards committee for their hard work in evaluating the applications!

Continue reading “Congratulations 2019 Student & Postdoctoral Travel Award Winners”

PRESS RELEASE: UV Lights on Power Lines May Help Save Sandhill Cranes

Illuminating power lines with UV lights could reduce collisions by Sandhill Cranes. Photo by James Dwyer, EDM International.

Crane species are declining around the world, and lethal collisions with power lines are an ongoing threat to many crane populations. Current techniques for marking power lines and making them more visible to cranes aren’t always effective, but new research published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications shows that adding UV lights—to which many birds are sensitive—can cut crane collisions with power lines by 98%.

EDM International’s James Dwyer and his colleagues created what they dubbed the Avian Collision Avoidance System, or ACAS, by mounting UV lights on power lines’ supporting structures and shining them on the lines at night. They tested its effectiveness in 2018 at Nebraska’s Iain Nicolson Audubon Center, where a power line crosses the Central Platte River in key habitat for migrating Sandhill Cranes. Randomly assigning the ACAS to be on or off each night, they observed the behavior of cranes flying along the river at dusk and during the night. They documented 98% fewer collisions and 82% fewer dangerous flights when the ACAS was on and showed that cranes reacted sooner and with more control to avoid hitting the power lines.

“This project came about as a result of years of studying avian collisions with power lines throughout North America. My studies included collisions involving numerous species and families of birds, even on lines modified to industry standards to mitigate avian collisions, and I thought perhaps there could be a more effective approach,” says Dwyer. “Even so, I did not imagine that the ACAS would have the effect that it did—a 98% reduction in collisions! I thought it would have some effect, but I didn’t dare think the ACAS would pretty much solve the Sandhill Crane collision problem at our study site on our first try.”

The Avian Collision Avoidance System at night. Photo by James Dwyer, EDM International.

Conventional line markers were already in place on the power lines crossing the Central Platte River, and Dwyer and his colleagues speculate that the ACAS illuminated them and made them easier for cranes to see. “We don’t know how effective the ACAS will be on wires without line markers, so we’re testing that now,” says Dwyer.

“I hope to see the ACAS applied to and studied on other power lines and on communication towers to identify whether it is as effective with other species, habitats, and wire configurations,” he continues. “From there, if the ACAS proves broadly effective, I hope to see it made easily available to the global electric industry. I also very much hope to see collision studies expanded. Because large carcasses like those of cranes and waterbirds are more easily noticed than smaller species like sparrows and warblers, collision studies have mostly focused on those larger species, and I fear that we may not understand the true distribution of species and habitats involved in the global avian collision problem.”

Near-ultraviolet light reduced Sandhill Crane collisions with a power line by 98% is available at https://academic.oup.com/condor/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/condor/duz008.

About the journal: The Condor: Ornithological Applications is a peer-reviewed, international journal of ornithology, published by the American Ornithological Society. For the past two years, The Condor has had the number one impact factor among 27 ornithology journals.