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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Mint Jang, Administrative Assistant

Mint joined AOS part-time in August 2019 and assists staff with day-to-day operations. She hails from the Peachtree state of Georgia, loves to travel (especially for food!), and enjoys following rabbit holes of information. Her current areas of interest include sustainable living and traditional food cultures.

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From the field

Agricultural lands can support bird populations, but agricultural intensification can also cause populations to decline — so what role are changes in American agriculture playing for Mourning Doves? A Mourning Dove’s age can be estimated from the molt pattern of the wing feathers, and the age ratios of birds killed by hunters let the researchers behind a recent paper in The Condor estimate doves’ reproductive output in different regions. They found that although the specifics varied between locations, small changes in land cover were linked to large differences in Mourning Doves' reproductive output. In the eastern U.S., for example, counties with greater proportions of intensive corn and soybean agriculture had much lower ratios of juveniles to adults. Learn more at the press release linked in our profile! Photo by David Muñoz. #agriculture #ornithology #birds #wildlife #conservation #science #ecology #mourningdoveMillions of songbirds that breed across North America converge on a tiny region of Colombia called the Darién during their migration each year, as shown by research recently published in The Condor. This is what the researchers call a migratory Plenty of studies, especially in “birdy” places like shade-grown coffee farms, have shown that birds can provide an economically valuable service to farmers by eating pest insects. But what about in the huge swathes of farmland that cover much of the U.S.? To find out, the researchers behind a recent study in The Condor set up mesh “exclosures” over corn and soybean plants to see how keeping out birds but not insects would affect crops' success. They found that birds had a positive effect on corn crop yield, but a negative effect on soybean crop yield in the adjacent field. For the many farmers that use a corn-corn-soybean rotation schedule, this may suggest economic gain in the long run. Photos by Daryl Coldren and Megan Garfinkel. #ornithology #birds #wildlife #ecology #conservation #science #agriculture #midwestThe sunbirds are a group of nectar-eating songbirds from Africa and Asia that are a sort of Old World counterpart of hummingbirds. A recent paper in The Condor offered a new reason to prioritize sunbird conservation beyond just At Michigan State I teach two courses, Ecology and Tropical Biology. Each fall during the Tropical Biology course we have a “Tropical Thanksgiving.” Each group of students is assigned a plant family with a distribution primarily in the tropics, and students need to uncover a species in the plant family that humans eat. Then they bring in a dish prepared with that species, like pineapple upside down cake, brownies, or banana cream pie. Our Tropical Thanksgivings tend to be heavy on desserts! #ecology #tropicalecology #tropicalbiology #ethnobotany #botany #plantbiology #thanksgiving
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[Thanks, Catherine! If YOU are an AOS member and would like to be featured here for a week, please get in touch.]We have worked in Panama and Costa Rica in areas undergoing forest restoration. Birds play vital roles in restoration systems by consuming insects that can damage young trees. They also disperse seeds of plants and provide pollination services. Tropical birds are also just cool! Photo credits include Sean Williams. #ornithology #wildlife #science #birds #ecology #conservation #restoration #neotropicalbirds
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[Our thanks to Catherine Lindell, Editor-in-Chief of AOS journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications, who's taking over this account for the week!]We have investigated a number of tactics to deter pest birds in orchards. Inflatable tube-men appear effective in some contexts, if farmers move them around and use enough of them. We have had mixed results with drones; some models and some flight trajectories are likely to be more effective than others in deterring crop-eating birds. Photo credits include Shayna Wiefrich and Ben Hawes. #ornithology #birds #wildlife #science #agriculture #orchards #womeninstem
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[Our thanks to Catherine Lindell, Editor-in-Chief of AOS journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications, who's taking over this account for the week!]
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