#GlobalAOS: Iliana Medina Guzmán

This July and August, we’re running a special series of blog posts profiling AOS members around the world, in honor of the recent change to AOS’s bylaws eliminated any reference specifying the Western Hemisphere as the Society’s geographic sphere of influence. This week, meet Iliana Medina Guzmán, a postdoctoral researcher in Australia.

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Dr. Medina Guzmán with a screech-owl in her home country of Colombia.

What’s your current affiliation and title?

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

What are you working on right now?

I work with the evolution of color in birds. I also work with brood parasitism from a broad perspective, like comparative analysis, that type of thing. Those are my two most recent interests. I am mostly on the computer — I use databases a lot for my work, because I do analyses on a lot of different species. I spend most of my time reading and looking for information on all of these species.

Recently we are working on how brood parasites target their host species based on territory size — do they target species that live in larger territories or smaller territories. So I go into the literature and try to find information for each species of host and non-host for average territory size, breeding densities, distribution, things like that.

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Dr. Medina Guzmán working on her latest research project.

When did you join AOS, and why did you decide to join?

I just became a member last fall. I decided to join because I read a lot of papers from The Auk and The Condor, because for my comparative analyses I need information on the natural history of lots of different species, and those journals have a lot of that information. I published myself part of my thesis in one of those journals. And being an AOS member also includes access to databases like Birds of North America, which I also use for all of these comparative analyses. So that’s super useful. I thought AOS membership was a really great value for all the benefits that it brings.

I have to confess that I feel a bit like an impostor, because I consider myself an evolutionary biologist that happens to work with birds, not a real ornithologist. I’m more interested in the questions than the actual organisms, but I like birds a lot and I work with birds for most of my questions.

What do you see as the best benefit of being an AOS member?

Definitely the journals and Birds of North America! I haven’t been to any meetings or anything like that, so for me it would be the journals and the access to the databases.

#GlobalAOS: Patience Shito

This July and August, we’re running a special series of blog posts profiling AOS members around the world, in honor of the recent change to AOS’s bylaws eliminated any reference specifying the Western Hemisphere as the Society’s geographic sphere of influence. This week, meet Patience Shito, a master’s degree student in South Africa.

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Patience observing captive hornbills.

What’s your current affiliation and title?

I’m currently a master’s candidate and an intern with the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, based in South Africa.

What are you working on right now?

For my internship, I do a lot of education and awareness work about the Southern Ground Hornbill. We go out to schools and we do lessons and activities with the children, teaching them about the importance of the bird and why we are concerned about it, because it’s an endangered species in South Africa. We also go out and interact with rural communities and farmers and just the general public, be it at workshops or bird fairs or just gatherings where we’ve been invited to give talks, and we give talks here on the game reserve where we’re based, the Mabula Game Reserve. The Southern Ground-Hornbill is a culturally significant species in most ethnic groups throughout its range in Africa, and we aim to maintain that reverence through all age groups, as it has contributed to the persistence of the species in some areas.

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Patience tracking ground hornbills in the field.

We also do research on the birds. Southern Ground Hornbills are a long-lived species, they live for about fifty years, and the research that’s been done on them hasn’t really covered all of the aspects of their biology and ecology as well as their interactions with humans here in South Africa. For my master’s thesis, I’m looking at the factors that are affecting the distribution of the birds in an area called the Limpopo River Valley, where ground hornbills are recolonizing the region after almost being wiped out in the 1960s and 1970s.

When did you join AOS, and why did you decide to join?

I applied for a Student Membership Award last year and received a year of free AOS membership. I applied because I realized that my knowledge was a bit lacking in terms of current trends in ornithology, and I just wanted to broaden my horizon in terms of what people are doing currently throughout the world. I realized that the American Ornithological Society has members throughout the world and I can possibly link up with them and find out what’s going on in matters pertaining to ornithology. In addition, I wanted to be able to apply for the Student Research Awards and possibly, hopefully, get some funding to complete my master’s studies.

What do you see as the best benefit of being an AOS member?

The best benefit is just opening up my mind to new ideas, from reading articles in the journals, and interacting with fellow ornithologists. It’s easy to be stuck in one track, one way of doing things, but if I can interact with more people, more ornithologists, to learn as much as I can, then I think I can go far in my career in ornithology.

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Patience conducting an outreach program at a local school.

#GlobalAOS: Luiz Dos Anjos

This July and August, we’re running a special series of blog posts profiling AOS members around the world, in honor of the recent change to AOS’s bylaws eliminated any reference specifying the Western Hemisphere as the Society’s geographic sphere of influence. This week, meet Luiz Dos Anjos, a professor at a university in Brazil.

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Dr. Dos Anjos (second from right) taking a group of students birdwatching in Londrina.

What’s your current affiliation and title?

I am an Associate Professor at the State University of Londrina in Brazil. I received my doctoral degree from the Federal University of Paraná in 1992, and also spent one year of sabbatical at the University of Florida in 2009, where I worked with Robert Douglas Holt.

What are you working on right now?

I am doing research and teach at the State University of Londrina. I teach a class on animal ecology for undergraduates and classes on ornithology and the biological dynamics of forest fragments for graduate students. At the moment I am involved in five research projects. The largest one is on monitoring forest bird communities at ten sites in two large nature reserves. I have worked on this for ten years, and my intention is to complete fifteen years of monitoring.    

On a typical day, I advise master’s and doctoral degree students, prepare and teach classes, and work on analyzing and writing up my field data. My field work is now concentrated in spring (September to December in the southern hemisphere), when I stay for four non-consecutive weeks on the field. 

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Dr. Dos Anjos in the field.

When did you join AOS, and why did you decide to join?

I joined AOS [then the AOU] in 1996. To me, the AOU represented the opportunity to learn more about ornithology, in particular about how to develop research projects on birds. I have attended several meetings of the AOU, in Veracruz, Portland, Jacksonville, and Washington. At all these meetings, I have learned a great deal about birds, and I feel it was important for my career. Another point is the journals, The Auk and The Condor. Although I haven’t been published in an AOS journal, I have learned a lot from the suggestions and recommendations of reviewers on submitted manuscripts.  

What do you see as the best benefit of being an AOS member?

I have maintained contact with colleagues from North America and other countries for years, and it has been important to me. This opportunity to share experiences has been the key point. And I enjoy the friendly meetings, where I can have an easy talk with people that share the same passion for birds.

#GlobalAOS: Alice Cibois

This July and August, we’re running a special series of blog posts profiling AOS members around the world, in honor of the recent change to AOS’s bylaws eliminated any reference specifying the Western Hemisphere as the Society’s geographic sphere of influence. This week, meet Alice Cibois, a researcher at a museum in Switzerland.

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Alice at work with specimens from the museum’s collection.

What’s your current job title and affiliation?

I work at the Natural History Museum of Geneva, in Switzerland. I’m a research officer and I work on birds. So I curate the museum’s the bird collection, and I also work on public exhibits related to birds, and I also do research, which is mostly focused on the phylogeny, biogeography, and systematics of different groups of birds. It’s supposed to be a third of your time for each part of the mission.

What are you working on right now?

Some days, like today, I spend almost all my day working on papers. I also work in the lab a bit, because I do molecular phylogenies, but other days I’m up near the lake to show waterfowl to children or working with the public team to plan the new exhibits. I have to be very flexible — a few years ago we had a whole exhibit on birds, so for that year I didn’t have so much time for research! I do very little teaching compared to colleagues that are at universities, but on the other hand I’m doing much more public outreach.

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Birdwatching along the Rhone River.

When did you join AOS, and why did you decide to join?

I became a member while I was doing a postdoc at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. That was in 2000, and I’ve been a member since then, even after I returned to Europe, because I wanted to keep coming to the meetings.

I don’t come every year, at this point I come to an AOS meeting every five or six years, but I really enjoy keeping in contact with colleagues. I also enjoy being able to have The Auk and The Condor, and I was also very interested for a while in having the Birds of North America subscription that’s included in the membership. And I think it’s fun to keep up with news about the society, like a few years ago when the two societies merged, I was glad to keep in touch with what was happening in America.

What’s the best benefit that you’ve gained from being a member of AOS?

Coming to the meetings. The meetings are really great. I really enjoy going, because there are always a lot of interesting talks and I get to catch up with colleagues. The meetings and the journals are the main interest for me, being far away from the rest of the activities of AOS.

#GlobalAOS: Prashant Ghimire

This July and August, we’re running a special series of blog posts profiling AOS members around the world, in honor of the recent change to AOS’s bylaws eliminated any reference specifying the Western Hemisphere as the Society’s geographic sphere of influence. This week, meet Prashant Ghimire, a student in Nepal.

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Prashant observing Asian Woollynecks in the field.

What’s your current job title and affiliation?

I just graduated with a Bachelor in Forestry from the Tribhuvan University Institute of Forestry in Pokhara, Nepal.

What are you working on right now?

I study the Asian Woollyneck, which is a kind of stork found only in Asia that is threatened but has not been well-studied. I initiated a research project on the woollyneck in 2016. Our first project was studying its population status in the western lowlands of Nepal, and then we moved to the hills of Nepal to study its nesting behavior and ecology with support from the Rufford Foundation in the UK. Woollynecks nest in tall trees, so finding a good vantage point to study a nest can be difficult, and sometimes we have to climb a nearby hill! We have also conducted educational programs in schools and communities, providing bird identification training and bird guide training and teaching them about our research.

In 2018, I received a Student Research Award from AOS to fund research on the foraging activities of Asian Woollyneck in the western lowlands of Nepal. We studied their foraging ecology by recording and analyzing video of their behaviors in the field, and I just completed my report on this project.

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Prashant conducting an outreach program in rural Nepal.

When did you join AOS, and why did you decide to join?

I have been a member since 2018, and I joined because the American Ornithological Society is a global platform. To conserve birds, we must work together, whether in Nepal or in the U.S. or in any other country, because birds are global citizens. But in a developing country like Nepal, we lack some technological advances, so I joined the American Ornithological Society to collaborate with global researchers and scientists.

What do you see as the best benefit of being an AOS member?

The student research award that I received was probably the best thing, but I’m also able to explore different opportunities through the American Ornithological Society. Currently I am searching for opportunities for further studies around the world, so through my membership in the American Ornithological Society I explore different job, research, and scholarship opportunities. I think it is helping researchers like me around the world.

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An Asian Woollyneck maintaining its nests and eggs.