2019 AOS Award Winners Announced

Every year, the American Ornithological Society presents a range of awards honoring members for their stellar contributions to science and their impactful service to the organization. The 2019 recipients will accept their awards at the annual AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, this June. Their work spans the full breadth of avian science, including contributions to evolution, conservation, systematics, and genetics, as well to the profession of ornithology itself. Awardees represent the broad diversity of our members, who are making major contributions to ornithology and to the Society.

“Honoring the achievements of our colleagues is an annual highlight for AOS leadership,” says AOS president Kathy Martin. “Under the northern lights of Anchorage, AOS will recognize a stellar array of ornithologists who will receive these prestigious awards for 2019.”


The William Brewster Memorial Award is bestowed each year to the author or co-authors of an exceptional body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere. For the first time this year, the society will present two separate Brewster Medals, one to Helen James and one to Craig Benkman. Dr. James, Curator of Birds at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, has used techniques including traditional morphological analyses, stable isotopes, molecular genetics, and other approaches to produce one of the most detailed bodies of work to date on avian evolutionary processes in island systems, focusing on extinct and extant birds of Hawaii. Dr. Benkman, Robert B. Berry Distinguished Chair in Ecology at the University of Wyoming, is being recognized for his work on selection and adaptive radiation in crossbills, including coevolution between crossbills and lodgepole pine, the influence of drought, fire, and increasing climate variability on this relationship, and the limits of the current and future distribution of crossbills.

The 2019 Elliott Coues Achievement Award, recognizing outstanding and innovative contributions to ornithological research, will be presented to Linda Whittingham and Peter Dunn. Dr. Whittingham and Dr. Dunn are a Professor Emeritus and a Distinguished Professor (respectively) at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Together, they have conducted extensive field studies and molecular lab work on Tree Swallows and Common Yellowthroats in North America and cooperatively-breeding birds in Australia, publishing together as a team for more than 25 years.

The 2019 Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award, recognizing extraordinary scientific contributions to the conservation, restoration, or preservation of birds and their habitats, will be presented to Jose Maria Cardoso da Silva. Originally from Brazil, Dr. Silva is a Professor at the University of Miami. A leading conservation scientist who has achieved prominence on the international stage, his achievements include contributions to science-based conservation initiatives for endemic birds in Brazil’s Cerrado, Caatinga, Atlantic forest, and Amazon regions.

The 2019 Loye and Alden Miller Research Award, given annually for lifetime achievement in ornithological research, will be presented to A. Townsend Peterson. Dr. “Town” Peterson is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a Senior Curator with the Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas. His two major areas of research have been the study of the alpha taxonomy of birds, especially the phylogenies of recently radiated avian clades, and the study of the ecology and geography of species distributions.


Two James G. Cooper Early Professional Awards and one Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award are presented annually to recognize outstanding and promising work by researchers early in their careers.

The 2019 James G. Cooper Early Professional Awards will be presented to Karan Odom and Kyle Horton. Both currently postdoctoral fellows at Cornell University, Dr. Odom is studying the overlooked significance of female song to multiple aspects of ornithology, while Dr. Horton’s research focuses on using remote sensing data to monitor avian migration across North America.

The 2019 Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award will be presented to David Toews. Dr. Toews was recently appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Penn State University. His work has taken advantage of rapidly emerging technology to leverage large genomic datasets while asking fundamental questions regarding avian evolution and speciation.


The Marion Jenkinson Service Award and Peter R. Stettenheim Service Awardare given to individuals who have performed continued extensive service to AOS.

The 2019 Marion Jenkinson Service Award will be presented to Alice Boyle. An Assistant Professor in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University, Dr. Boyle has an impressive record of research achievement in ecology and ornithology and has tirelessly served AOS and the former Cooper Ornithological Society and American Ornithologists’ Union in the six years since she became a Kansas State faculty member. She served on the COS Board from 2013 to 2016, simultaneously chairing both their Student Presentations Awards Committee and Publications Committee from 2014 to 2016. In the latter capacity, she became co-chair of the AOU/COS Joint Publications Advisory Committee serving the joint society publications program for The Auk and The Condor. Alice also chaired the committee to identify a new editor for The Auk in 2018.

The 2019 Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award will be presented to Mark Hauber and Phil Stouffer for their extraordinary collaboration as editors-in-chief of the AOS journals, The Auk and The Condor. Dr. Stouffer, the Lee F. Mason Professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources at Louisiana State University, has served as Editor-in-Chief of The Condor since 2013 and will step down from this role in 2019; Dr. Hauber, the Harley Jones Van Cleave Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions in the Department of Animal Biology at the School of Integrative Biology of the University of Illinois, Urbana, was Editor-in-Chief of The Auk from 2013 to 2018. Not only did they each excel at bringing their individual journals to a higher level of impact and scientific professionalism, they deepened and diversified their editorial boards while working tirelessly to advance the goals of AOS’ scholarly publications as a whole.


The 2019 Katma Award, given to the author(s) of a publication in any journal that offers unconventional ideas or innovative approaches in the study of birds, will be presented to Benjamin Winger, Giorgia Auteri, Teresa Pegan, and Brian Weeks for their paper “A long winter for the Red Queen: rethinking the evolution of seasonal migration,” published in Biological Reviews in 2018. This paper advances a new view on the evolution of birds’ seasonal migration, arguing that the primary adaptive driver of seasonal migration is the maintenance of site fidelity to familiar breeding locations.

The 2019 Harry R. Painton Award, given in odd-numbered years to the author of an outstanding paper published in the two preceding years in the AOS journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications, will be presented to Jason Carlisle, Anna Chalfoun, Kurt Smith, and Jeffrey Beck for their 2018 paper “Nontarget effects on songbirds from habitat manipulation for Greater Sage-Grouse: Implications for the umbrella species concept.” A strong test of the umbrella species concept in sagebrush systems, this paper showed that mowing sagebrush to benefit sage-grouse can have unintended negative consequences for Brewer’s Sparrows and Sage Thrashers.

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