Congratulations 2018 AOS Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award Winner – Dr. Anna Chalfoun

In 2018, AOS established a new service award meant to carry on the tradition of the Cooper Honorary Member Award, one of the oldest awards in ornithology.  The new award is made in honor a senior ornithologist who has given extraordinary service to the AOS or its predecessor societies, the AOU and COS. The Executive Committee tasked the Service Awards Committee with recommending a name. After an extensive search, they choose to honor Dr. Peter Stettenheim. Peter’s service to ornithological societies was extensive.  He was a Life Membership, Elective Member, and Fellow, Council Member, and Vice President of the AOU (2001-02). He was Editor of The Condor and Life Histories of the Birds of North America (a.k.a. BNA), Honorary Life Member of the Cooper Society; and Patron and Investing Trustee of the Wilson Ornithological Society.  Peter was a well-respected expert on avian anatomy and functional morphology, but had a broad appreciation and interest in ornithology.  Peter passed away in 2013, and was known by many of us as a kind and gentle giant.

The 2018 Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award is presented to Anna Chalfoun. Anna has had a distinguished record of service to our former ornithological societies over the past decade and now AOS. She served on the Miller Award Committee, the COS Nominations Committee in 2015, the Scientific Program Committee for the last NAOC, chaired the COS Student Awards Committee, COS President-Elect, the societies Merger Advisory Committee, and now is on AOS Council and our Conservation Committee.

In recognition of her outstanding and diverse service to the AOS and earlier ornithological societies, the society is proud to name Dr. Anna D. Chalfoun as the first recipient of the 2018 Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award.

AOS President Steve Beissinger presenting Anna Chalfoun with her award at the 2018 AOS annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.


Congratulations 2018 Brina C. Kessell Publication Award Winners – Barker et al. 2015

The Brina C. Kssell Publication Award is a new award and is for the best paper in The Auk published within the past 4 years (2014-2017). It is to given in even numbered years, which complements the Painton Award given in odd numbered years for the best paper in the Condor.

The first Brina Kessell Publication Award given in 2018 goes to:
F. Keith Barker, Kevin J. Burns, John Klicka, Scott M. Lanyon, and Irby J. Lovette for their article published in 2015, entitled, “New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies.”

The authors bring to bear modern molecular and analytical techniques to address a long-standing question in ornithology (and biogeography generally) that Ernst Mayr attempted to address in 1946: what are the origins of the New World avifauna? Over 800 species of the nine-primaried oscines of the large clade Emberizoidea were sampled to develop a phylogeny that was combined with a temporal and biogeographic analysis. It established that the emberizoid ancestors entered the New World through Beringia, and rapidly diverged in North America to also produce a clade that entered and diversified in South America. Subsequent dispersal between North and South America, especially after formation of the Isthmus of Panama, was mostly north to south (as also seen in mammals). These results largely confirmed Mayr’s speculations. This work stood out for its strong grounding in a deep historical question that has vexed ornithologists, for the thoroughness of its sampling, and for a strong quantitative treatment of the large data set.

Full Citation:
Barker, F. K., K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2015. New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies. Auk 132:333-348.
(Direct link to article:

Congratulations 2018 AOS Loye and Alden Miller Research Award Winner – Dr. Janis Dickinson

The Loye and Alden Miller Research Award is given  for lifetime achievement in ornithological research. Loye Holmes Miller and his son, Alden, left a remarkable legacy to the field of ornithology and to the American Ornithological Society. Together they sponsored 30 PhD students, 28 in avian biology, and their students in turn trained a total of 166. Alden also made contributions to the society and ornithology as a long standing editor of The Condor. Previous recipients at this meeting include Ellen Ketterson and Sue Haig. This year AOS is pleased to honor Dr. Janis Dickinson as the recipient of the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award.

Janis began her career at Hastings Natural History Reservation as an affiliated faculty member with the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the UC Berkeley, with postdoctoral fellowships from NIH and NSF, and then in an appointment as a research zoologist. In 2005, she joined the faculty at Cornell University as the Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science, with a joint appointment between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Department of Natural Resources, where she remained until her retirement in 2017.

Janis has had a distinguished career in behavioral ecology and conservation biology. She has made important contributions to ornithology in three main areas: i) the behavioral ecology of animal mating systems, ii) the evolutionary ecology of cooperative breeding in vertebrates, and iii) the role of citizen science in advancing ornithology. Her scientific output includes over 80 peer-reviewed papers and three edited books.  Janis was also a successful mentor for graduate students and postdocs who have continued in careers in ornithology.

For her lifetime contributions to the understanding of avian behavioral ecology and citizen science, AOS is proud to present the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award to Dr. Janis Dickinson.

AOS President Steve Beissinger presenting Janis Dickinson with her award at the 2018 AOS annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

Congratulations 2018 AOS Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award Winner – Dr. John Sauer

The Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award, established  in 2005, recognizes extraordinary scientific contributions to the conservation, restoration, or preservation of birds and/or their habitats by an individual or small team. The award honors Ralph Schreiber, a prominent figure in the American Ornithologists’ Union known for his enthusiasm, energy and dedication to research and conservation. The award comprises a framed certificate and an honorarium provided by the society’s endowed Ralph W. Schreiber Fund. Past recipients attending this meeting include John Fitzpatrick and Joe Wunderle.  This year the Schreiber Award goes to Dr. John Sauer.

John is a Wildlife Biologist and Statistician with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.  He has been a driving force and central figure behind the statistical design and analyses of two of the most influential data sets in North American bird conservation – the Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey. Both citizen science datasets provide our view of the status and future trajectories of all North American birds, and both are comprised of messy data!  John’s efforts to develop robust approaches for analysis have generated highly influential reports on the State of Birds Reports.  These reports on population trends and conservation status for North American birds influence millions, if not billions, of dollars of federal, state and private funds for conservation and research in numerous countries. In addition, John has developed a variety of other statistical approaches for modeling population counts, survival rates, and abundance patterns.

In recognition of these contributions to ornithology, AOS is pleased to name Dr. John Sauer as the 2018 recipient of the Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award.

AOS President Steve Beissinger presenting John Sauer with his award at the 2018 AOS annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

Congratulations 2018 AOS William Brewster Memorial Award Winner – Dr. Bette A. Loiselle

The William Brewster Memorial Award goes to the author or co-authors of an exceptional body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere. The award was established in 1921 and is in honor of William Brewster, one of the founding members of the American Ornithologists’ Union. Previous recipients include Geoff Hill, Steve Beissinger, Joanna Burger, Spencer Sealy and John Fitzpatrick. This year the award, which consists of a medal and honorarium, is given to Dr. Bette A. Loiselle

Dr. Loiselle is a Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, where she also serves as the Director of the Tropical Conservation and Development Program.  Her published work on ecology and conservation of birds includes over 110 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and is well regarded for its rigor and creativity. Her interests are broad, including the use of GIS methods in species distribution mapping, the ecological role of animals as seed dispersers, mating systems and life histories of tropical birds, and the potential consequences of global change on the distribution of birds and their plant foods in tropical systems of the Western Hemisphere.  Bette also has an extensive record of successful mentorship for graduate students and postdocs from Latin America, including many women scientists.

In recognition of a meritorious body of research on birds over a long and distinguished career, I am pleased to award Dr. Bette Loiselle the 2018 Brewster Award.

AOS President Steve Beissinger presenting Bette Loiselle with her award at the 2018 AOS annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.