2021 James G. Cooper Early Professional Award Winners: Ana Gonzalez and Benjamin Van Doren

Into the new year, we’ll continue featuring profiles of the previously announced winners of the 2021 AOS awards in a series of posts on Wing Beat. Nominations are currently open for the 2022 AOS Awards.


The AOS James G. Cooper Early Professional Award recognizes early-career researchers for their outstanding contributions in any field of ornithology. It consists of a certificate, a $1,500 honorarium, and gratis registration to attend the annual meeting. Awardees are also invited to give a plenary at the annual meeting. The award is named in honor of James G. Cooper, a pioneering naturalist and ornithologist in the western regions of North America. This year’s two awardees are Dr. Ana Gonzalez and Dr. Benjamin Van Doren.

Dr. Ana Gonzalez is being recognized for her outstanding publication record and her many accomplishments in conservation biology, including establishing important conservation agreements to maintain critical habitat for birds, and the widespread training of biologists in six countries on bird banding and tracking. She received her Ph.D. from University of Saskatchewan in October, 2018. Among her 14 publications are several notable contributions, including a paper linking spring migratory pace and departure time in Swainson’s Thrushes (Gonzalez et al. 2020, J. Animal Ecol.), a paper examining shade-coffee versus native forest as overwintering habitat for Canada Warblers (Gonzalez et al. 2020, Condor), and a paper showing how the topography of the Andes influences the non-breeding distribution of Canada Warblers (Gonzalez et al. 2018, Diversity and Distributions). Dr. Gonzalez’ research is marked by a holistic approach to the biology of migratory birds. She considers the full annual cycle of migratory species and uses a variety of methods to advance our understanding of factors influencing populations. She then applies a similar holistic approach to conservation efforts, which include identifying priority areas for conservation, creating local capacity and strong networks in Latin America, working with rural farmers to conserve habitat, and promoting bird friendly coffee. Her research has been possible due to the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Birds Canada, Nature Canada, and Selva – Colombia. For her notable contributions to ornithology, AOS is pleased to name Dr. Ana Gonzalez as a 2021 recipient of the AOS James G. Cooper Early Professional Award. Dr. Gonzalez is originally from Colombia and is the first Hispanic female recipient of the Cooper Award.

Dr. Benjamin Van Doren studies global bird migration across scales, from individuals to continents, and his work spans ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford, where he studied drivers of change and flexibility in migratory behavior. As a Postdoctoral Associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, he focuses on leveraging complementary data sources to understand the dynamics of migration systems, including predicting large-scale migratory movements and mitigating negative impacts of human activity on migratory birds. His contributions as a science communicator to Birdcast.info have garnered more than two million views, his publications include three papers in The Auk (now Ornithology) and his service already includes more than 50 paper reviews for various scientific journals, all extraordinary achievements for Dr. Van Doren’s career stage. His publications have been characterized by exceptional quality and have already contributed to multiple areas of avian ecology and evolution, including bird collisions (Van Doren et al. 2021, PNAS), migratory biology (Van Doren et al. 2017, J. Avian Biol.), breeding biology (Van Doren et al. 2016, Behavioral Ecology; Van Doren et al. 2019, BBOC), conservation biology (Van Doren et al. 2017, PNAS), aero-ecology (Van Doren et al. 2015, Auk), genomics (Sendell-Price et al. 2020, G3), and systematics (Van Doren et al. 2018, Wilson J. Ornith.). For his many contributions to ornithology, AOS is pleased to name Dr. Benjamin Van Doren as a 2021 recipient of the AOS James G. Cooper Early Professional Award.

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