2021 Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award Winners: Sahas Barve and Luis Sandoval

Our featured profile series on Wing Beat continues for the previously announced winners of the 2021 AOS awards. Nominations are currently open for the 2022 AOS Awards.


The AOS Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award recognizes outstanding and promising work by a researcher early in their career in any field of ornithology. It consists of a certificate, $1,500 honorarium, and gratis registration to attend the annual meeting. Awardees are also invited to give a plenary at the annual meeting. This award is funded through a gift to the AOS endowment honoring Ned K. Johnson, a lifelong supporter and former AOU President (1996–1998). Our 2021 awardees are Dr. Sahas Barve and Dr. Luis Sandoval.

Dr. Sahas Barve, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, is known for his scholarly work as well as his exceptional record of service to AOS. Dr. Barve’s research, which is focused on numerous aspects of behavioral ecology and eco-physiology of birds with an emphasis on Himalayan birds, has had demonstrable and wide-ranging impacts in both India and North America. Dr. Barve is an accomplished teacher and mentor who has mentored 19 undergraduate and seven graduate students representing five countries. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2017, having immigrated from India to the U.S. for his doctoral training. His notable publications include one that demonstrated that elevational migration was associated with a distinct hematological profile versus high elevation resident species in the Himalayas via adjustments to blood-oxygen carrying capacity (Barve et al. 2016, Proc. Roy. Soc. B), a study of the mechanisms causing elevational replacement in Himalayan titmice (Barve and Dhondt 2017, J. Avian Biology), three studies on social and nesting behaviors in Acorn Woodpeckers (Barve et al. 2019, American Naturalist; Barve et al. 2020, Ecology; Barve et al. 2020, Current Biology), and a comparative study of thermo-insulative properties of feathers in Himalayan birds (Barve et al. 2021, Ecography). In 2020, Dr. Barve published guidelines and recommendations for field studies of nesting ecology for ornithologists in India in Indian Birds. Dr. Barve’s service contributions have been truly exceptional, including to the AOS. These contributions reflect a commitment to diversity and inclusion. For his exceptional portfolio of accomplishments and his commitment to service, AOS is pleased to name Dr. Barve as a winner of the 2021 AOS Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award.

Dr. Luis Sandoval, Assistant Professor and Curator of the Ornithology Collection at Universidad de Costa Rica Escuela de Biología and Museo Zoología, is widely respected for his work promoting diversity in the field of ornithology, and is recognized for a record of prolific scholarship, mentorship, and teaching for his career stage. Having published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers within six years of his Ph.D. from the University of Windsor (Canada) in 2014, Dr. Sandoval’s scholarly work is largely about natural history, vocal behavior, and the avifauna of Costa Rica. Dr. Sandoval has supervised nine graduate students already in his brief faculty career, and he has published more than 40 publications with these students. He is also an active member of ornithological societies, former president of the Unión de Ornitólogos de Costa Rica, and was chair of the organizing committee for the 2019 Neotropical Ornithological Society meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. Dr. Sandoval is the coordinator of important bird areas in Costa Rica, as well as a co-coordinator of species assessments in Central Costa Rica. He has reviewed manuscripts for 36 scientific journals and has earned a reputation for promoting diversity in the field of ornithology, in part through his commitment to activities such as leading bioacoustic and shorebird monitoring workshops throughout Central and South America, and organizing a roundtable about interdisciplinary studies of the House Wren at the 2020 NAOC. For his many contributions to ornithology, AOS is pleased to name Dr. Luis Sandoval as a winner of the 2021 AOS Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award.

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