2021 Marion Jenkinson Service Award Winner: Sara Kaiser

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to feature profiles of the previously announced winners of the 2021 AOS awards in a series of posts on Wing Beat.

The AOS Marion Jenkinson Service Award is given to an early- or mid-career ornithologist who has performed continued extensive service to AOS, including holding elected offices, but emphasizing volunteer contributions and committee participation. The award consists of a framed certificate and honors Marion Jenkinson Mengel, who served the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) as Treasurer and in other capacities for many years. This year’s awardee is Dr. Sara Kaiser.

Dr. Kaiser received her Ph.D. in behavioral ecology from Cornell University in 2013, and is currently a Research Ecologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Director of the Hubbard Brook Field Ornithology Program. She has been an active member of the ornithological community since graduate school, providing extensive service to AOS and its precursor societies, the AOU and Cooper Ornithological Society (COS). Dr. Kaiser served as a judge in the Student Presentation competitions for both AOU and COS meetings from 2014–2016, and was a member of the AOU Early Professionals Committee (EPC) during the same period.

After the AOU and COS merger in 2016, Dr. Kaiser became the chair of the AOS EPC and served for three years, during which time she grew and revitalized the committee to become the integral part of AOS that it is today. In particular, Dr. Kaiser improved the Early Professionals Mini-talk Symposium and Mentor and Networking Program, creating a visible and popular venue for early-career scientists to showcase their work at AOS’s annual meetings and to receive feedback on the communication of their work by a mentor they were paired with prior to the meeting, along with peer mentors. Dr. Kaiser served on the AOS Membership Committee in 2016–2018, agreed to co-chair that committee in 2019, and became chair in 2020–2022, providing leadership in analyses of member survey data that inform AOS’s strategic goals to ensure that the Society is best serving its membership. In addition, Dr. Kaiser served on the Meeting Coordination Committee from 2017–2019, and in 2019, was elected to the AOS Council, serving from 2020–2022.

Dr. Kaiser is perhaps best known for the many workshops and symposia she co-organized over the years, equipping early professionals with tools and guidance for navigating that stage of their careers. Her dedication to promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment, especially for students and early professionals, will have a lasting effect on AOS and the success of its members. For her service to the Society, AOS is pleased to name Dr. Sara Kaiser as the 2021 recipient of the AOS Marion Jenkinson Service Award.

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