Melinda Pruett-Jones, Executive Director

aos staff member melinda pruett-jones

Melinda Pruett-Jones applies her decades of experience leading mission-based conservation and science organizations to advance AOS’s vision for ornithology. Her previous roles include Executive Director of Chicago Wilderness, VP for Applied Research at Chicago Zoological Society/ Brookfield Zoo, and Director of Major Gifts at The Field Museum. Melinda also has a research background in the ecology and population biology of birds.

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Crystal Ruiz, Director of Operations & Administration

aos staff member crystal ruiz

Crystal joined AOS in March 2015 and holds a BS/BA degree in accounting and Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential. Prior to AOS, Crystal worked as an administrator at a regional-based environmental non-profit and as an international accountant in a private firm. She enjoys looking at the big picture and figuring out how to successfully roll out programs while keeping the lights on and people smiling. Photo by KayBee Photos.

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Rebecca Heisman, Communications Specialist

aos staff member rebecca heisman

Rebecca joined AOS full-time in January 2019 after four years as an independent contractor. Her experiences prior to her role with AOS include working as an ornithology field assistant in Canada and Australia, leading environmental education programs in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Oregon, and writing about conservation for publications including Audubon and Sierra Magazine.

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Chris Mulvaney, Member Services & AMS Coordinator

aos staff member chris mulvaney

Chris joined AOS as in independent contractor in 2017 and transitioned to a full-time role with the Society in January 2019. Previously, he served thirteen years with Chicago Wilderness, a regional conservation alliance of more than 200 organizations, where he helped to foster partnerships, facilitate regional biodiversity recovery strategies, and develop and monitor metrics toward collective impact.

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Mark Penrose, Managing Editor

aos staff member mark penrose

Mark originally served as managing editor for The Auk under three editors: Kimberly Smith, Spencer Sealy, and Michael Murphy. After a break, he rejoined the newly established joint publication of The Auk: Ornithological Advances and The Condor: Ornithological Applications in 2014. Over the years, Mark has worked on everything from journal management to design and layout to typesetting. He is a Jersey boy and a long-suffering Jets fan.

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    From the field

    Finally, I’m so pleased to share with the AOS community the newest @audubonsociety report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink. Five years in the making, this report finds that 389 of 604 species evaluated are highly vulnerable to climate change. We compared the effects of a business-as-usual emissions trajectory (3.0 C average warming) to a scenario of drastic emissions reductions (1.5 C warming). The good news is risk to 76% of these birds can be reduced by emissions mitigation, and Audubon will be mobilizing its broad base to #ActOnClimate now.
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In a changing climate, birds are coping with disruptions in food, shelter, competition, extreme weather events. Looking at a combination of climate and vegetation predictor variables, we project spatial patterns of net loss and gain across continental Canada, U.S., and Mexico under 3.0 C of warming (figure 2). The boreal forest may see concerning rates of species loss in summer, and the Midwest and mountainous west may also see losses.
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As we know, climate change encompasses more than just long-term changes in average precipitation, temperature, and vegetation. In a novel analysis, we mapped nine acute climate-related threats (like fire risk, extreme heat, sea level rise) across the contiguous 48 states for which data were available. Risk (figure 3) is the product of the number of threats, the number of bird species under future conditions, and the number of vulnerable species under future climate—showing areas of high conservation priority.
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This can seem like a dreary message, but Audubon has a long history of achieving policy solutions that protect birds and better the environment; this effort is no exception. Reduce your energy use at home, ask your elected officials to expand clean energy development, advocate for natural coastlines and rivers to help with climate adaptation, or simply tell your elected officials that climate and conservation are election issues for you. Thank you for following me this week and let’s create a better future starting with climate.audubon.org! #BirdsTellUs #birds #wildlife #conservation #science #ornithology #climatechange
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[Thanks for a great week, Joanna!]@audubonsociety is also a powerful voice for environmental advocacy. Our work has led to the banning of lead ammunition in California, the proposed listing of Tricolored Blackbirds under the Endangered Species Act, and the defense of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, to name a few. In photo 1, a group of us are lobbying for the protection of California's public lands. Learning about issues surrounding women in the workplace is another personal passion of mine, and at the #AudubonConvention earlier this year, I was lucky to be among like-minded colleagues on a panel for women about making our voices heard (photo 2, by Hannah Waters). #birdstellus #womeninstem #womeninscience #conservation #birdconservation #environmentaladvocacy #science #ornithology
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[Thank you to #AOSMember Joanna Wu, who’s taking over our Instagram account this week!]As Project Manager & Avian Biologist at @audubonsociety, I work now mostly in R. My projects here include climate-related research, point count data analysis, research on North American grasslands and grassland birds, and managing Important Bird Areas. Last year I led a study done in partnership with the @nationalparkservice looking at how bird communities in these protected areas may be affected by climate change (photo 1). It was really gratifying to see this work visualized by @stamendesign on a 50-foot mural in downtown San Francisco (photo 2)! In doing all this work, I get to collaborate with great teammates. Some of us were at #AOS18AZ (photo 3), and this June many of us met again in Alaska at #AOS19AK (photo 4). Photos by Zach Slavin, Andrea Jones, and me. #birdstellus #womeninstem #womeninscience #conservation #birdconservation #environmentaladvocacy #birds #science #ornithology
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[Thank you to #AOSMember Joanna Wu, who’s taking over our Instagram account this week!]After finishing my master's degree, I moved back to California and conducted point count surveys in sometimes remote areas of the Sierra Nevadas (first photo; not a bad way to spend your summers!), compiled the state’s first conservation strategy on the Great Gray Owl, and worked in burned areas (second photo) to study impacts of fire on riparian birds and bumblebees. I was elated the day we caught swallows, which almost never end up in mist nets! It seems a flock of young Violet-green Swallows were flying low, perhaps chasing insects, and a number of them landed right in our nets. Their tiny feet and incredibly long wings were definitely different from the riparian birds we were targeting! Photos by me and Spencer Hardy.  #womeninscience #conservation #birdconservation #fieldwork #birds #wildlife #ornithology #science
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[Thank you to #AOSMember Joanna Wu, who’s taking over our Instagram account this week!]For my master's research, I worked in the lava fields of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Hawaiian birds are the most imperiled group of birds in the United States, and some ecosystems have collapsed following habitat alteration, predation by invasive species, and diseases like avian malaria. I worked in the relatively undisturbed kīpuka forests, naturally fragmented by lava flows. There, I studied how the native thrush, ʻŌmaʻo, differed in seed dispersal capabilities from the introduced Japanese White-eye. I found that the white-eye flew farther, but because it was much smaller than the ʻŌmaʻo, it dispersed smaller seeds and couldn’t fully replace the native frugivore where ʻŌmaʻo are extirpated. Ecosystem services like this are already lost for the bigger ʻAlalā, and conservation of Hawaiian birds is direly needed. Photos by Mark Kimura and Nick Turner. #hawaii #ornithology #science #womeninstem #womeninscience #conservation #birdconservation #fieldwork #birds #wildlife
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[Thank you to #AOSMember Joanna Wu, who’s taking over our Instagram account this week!]I learned how to use binoculars from my first field job! Just kidding, but I did learn the invaluable skill of closely observing nature following the ways of naturalist Joseph Grinnell. Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, I did not know that conservation biology was a career option. It was only when I came across a summer field assistantship at @ucberkeleyofficial that I got a taste of ornithology—and I’ve been hooked ever since. Scientists there were welcoming mentors and invested their time in undergraduates. I mist-netted birds and fell in love with them up close. A whole functioning creature less than the size of my hand—how amazing birds are! The key thing about that field assistant position was that it was paid. I didn’t have the privilege of working for free, and had the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology not had funding to pay assistants that summer, I would have taken a different job and not have found my passion so early on. It may seem trivial, but working funded internships and assistantships into grants will actively benefit a diverse pool of candidates. Photo: Madeline Tiee. #science #WomenInSTEM #WomenInScience #conservation #BirdConservation #fieldwork #ornithology #ConservationBiology #birds #wildlife
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[Thank you to #AOSMember Joanna Wu, who’s taking over our Instagram account this week!]Hi! My name is Joanna Wu. I'm an #AOSMember and a Project Manager and Avian Biologist on the Science team at @audubonsociety. I have mostly worked on climate projects here ⁠— I led Audubon's 2018 Birds and Climate Change in Our National Parks scientific publication and ensuing products, and I conducted a similar project with @parks.canada this year. Before joining Audubon, I worked at @instbirdpop in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and I worked on Hawaiʻi Island for my masters research, studying seed dispersal in a landscape naturally fragmented by lava flows. I will be sharing about all of these projects this week here on the AOS Instagram account! Photo: Luke Franke/Audubon. #climatescience #birdstellus #climatechange #science #womeninstem #womeninscience #conservation #birdconservation #ornithology #birds
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