The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), the Western Hemisphere's premier ornithological society, presents five awards every year honoring members for their contributions to science and their service to the organization. The 2016 awardees were announced at this year's landmark North American Ornithological Conference in Washington, D.C., and their work spans the full breadth of the field of ornithology, including contributions to ecology, conservation, behavior, systematics, and more. The award winners for 2016 are the following:
- The William Brewster Memorial Award, bestowed each year to the author or co-authors of an exceptional body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere, is presented to Dr. Patricia Parker of the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Zoo. The last two decades of Dr. Parker's forty-year research career have focused on the evolution, diseases, and conservation of the birds of the Galápagos Islands. She has made enormous contributions to ornithology through the development of creative new applications of DNA analysis while producing more than 180 publications and training and inspiring a broad array of students and professionals early in their career.
- The Elliott Coues Achievement Award, recognizing outstanding and innovative contributions to ornithological research, is presented to Dr. Michael Sorenson of Boston University. Dr. Sorenson's research focuses on the ecology of brood parasitism, and his drive to understand its origins has also led him into the study of molecular evolution and systematics; he is recognized as a leader in both fields. He is a highly productive and published scientist with broad influence in his field.
- The Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award, recognizing extraordinary scientific contributions to the conservation, restoration, or preservation of birds and their habitats, is presented to Dr. John Fitzpatrick, head of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Under Dr. Fitzpatrick's leadership, the Cornell Lab has grown into a force for conservation, with education and outreach programs that bring bird science to the public. His work on the ecology of Florida Scrub-Jays has helped slow the decline of this threatened species.
- The Ned K. Johnson Young Investigator Award, recognizing work by an ornithologist early in his/her career who shows distinct promise for future leadership in the profession, is presented to Dr. Mary Caswell Stoddard. Having just completed a three-year Junior Fellowship with the Harvard Society of Fellows, Dr. Stoddard is moving on to an Assistant Professorship at Princeton University. Her research brings together collaborators from many fields to study the evolution and ecology of eggs, color, and mimicry.
- The Marion Jenkinson Service Award, given to an individual who has performed continued extensive service to the AOU, is presented to Dr. James Herkert, Director of Resource Conservation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Dr. Herkert, recognized for his influential research on grassland birds, served as an outstanding and forward-thinking steward of AOU's assets while treasurer of the society for nearly a decade.
Honoring their colleagues' achievements is an annual highlight for the leadership of the AOU. "Given the breadth of ornithological literature published annually, it easy to lose sight of the magnitude of quality contributions from any one individual," said Scott Lanyon, President of the society. "The AOU's senior awards represent an opportunity to remind ourselves of just how enormous an impact some of our colleagues are having on the science of ornithology, on the broader conceptual scientific disciplines, and on the conservation of avian diversity."
For more information on the AOU's professional and service awards, visit: http://americanornithology.org/content/aou-professional-and-service-awards.
About the American Ornithologists' Union
The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) is an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds, enriching ornithology as a profession, and promoting a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds. The AOU produces scientific publications of the highest quality, hosts intellectually engaging and professionally vital meetings, serves ornithologists at every career stage, pursues a global perspective, and informs public policy on all issues important to ornithology and ornithological collections.
The AOU was founded in 1883 by William Brewster, Elliott Coues and Joel Allen out of concern for bird conservation and interest in developing the field of ornithology in North America. Early AOU efforts led to formation of the National Audubon Society and the Biological Survey (now known as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Today, the AOU is the largest ornithological society in the Western Hemisphere and one of the oldest organizations in the world devoted to the scientific study and conservation of birds.
The AOU publishes The Auk: Ornithological Advances, which has one of the highest scientific impact ranking among ornithological journals worldwide. The Auk is an international journal that advances fundamental scientific knowledge in two ways: increase in the basic knowledge of bird species, both living and extinct; and increase in the knowledge of broad biological and conservation concepts through studies of bird species.
The AOU Checklist is the accepted authority for scientific nomenclature and English names of birds in North and Middle America. The AOU has recently completed a complementary checklist for South American birds. The AOU also sponsors The Birds of North America Online, in partnership with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.