2021 Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award Winner: Fred Sheldon

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.

In 2018, the American Ornithological Society (AOS) established the Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award, intended to carry on the tradition of the Cooper Ornithological Society’s Cooper Honorary Member Award, one of the oldest awards in ornithology. The award consists of a framed certificate and honorarium, and recognizes a senior ornithologist who has performed outstanding and extensive service to AOS, celebrating members who may have served in elected or appointed positions, but also emphasizing volunteer contributions, mentoring, and committee participation. This AOS award honors Peter Stettenheim, an enthusiastic leader of AOS’s precursor societies, the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) and the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS), who served in Society governance and contributed in many ways to advance ornithology. This year’s awardee is Dr. Fred Sheldon.

Dr. Sheldon received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1986. For 28 years, he has worked at Louisiana State University, where he is the George H. Lowery, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Natural Science, Curator of Genetic Resources in the Museum of Natural Science, and Professor of Biological Sciences. Dr. Sheldon’s history of service to the ornithological community and to AOS and its precursors, in particular, is lengthy and varied. He served as AOU Treasurer from 1993 to 2000, and Vice President from 2002 to 2003. In addition to elected offices, Dr. Sheldon served on numerous committees, including a 10-year stint on the Finance Committee (1993–2003), the Publications Committee (2001–2003), the Student Awards Committee (2002–2003), the Scientific Program Committee for NAOC in 2002, and the Development Committee, which he chaired from 2003 to 2004.

Dr. Sheldon also devoted considerable time to our Society publications, serving as an Associate Editor for The Condor (now Ornithological Applications) from 2008 to 2013, and for The Auk (now Ornithology) from 1999 to 2003, and again from 2013 to 2019. His gift of service extended beyond AOS to include the Ornithological Societies of North America (OSNA), where he participated in the Managing (1993–2000) and Contracts (2003–2004) committees. Evidently not one to be idle, Dr. Sheldon devoted nearly 10 years on the Managing Board of The Birds of North America when it was just getting started (1994–2003). The AOS is honored to recognize and express gratitude to Dr. Sheldon, whose generosity of service has touched every aspect of our Society and made it stronger. In recognition of his outstanding service to AOS and the ornithological community, the Society is proud to recognize Fred Sheldon as this year’s recipient of the Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award.


  1. Fred: Please, my warmest, hardiest congratulations! The time and energy you’ve given to AOU, COS and AOS has been outstanding. Your contributions are greatly appreciated, I’m sure Peter would be proud.
    Warmest regards.

    1. Alan, Thanks for your post. I was surprised and pleased to receive the award. I would have thought everyone forgot what happened so long ago.

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