brina kessel, aos award namesake

AOS is pleased to announce up to three new fellowships of $15,000 each for ornithological research. These fellowships have been made possible through a generous bequest by Dr. Brina Kessel and are directed to early career scientists. The full range of ornithological research currently published in peer-reviewed journals, such as studies avian biology, ecology, behavior, conservation, genetics, interdisciplinary work, etc. can be supported. Poultry and agricultural research will not be considered.

Kessel Fellowship Eligibility

Updated 10/17/19

  • Kessel Fellowships are open to early-career researchers. This includes current PhD students who will have completed their PhD when the grant is awarded and those who have received their PhD within ten years of the grant submission date (an extra year of eligibility may be granted for parental leave).
  • As early-career researchers, applicants are expected to have significant involvement in an ornithological society. Applicants must be an AOS member at the time of their application if they are citizens of the United States, Canada, Israel, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the following Western European countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Applicants who are NOT citizens of the countries listed above nor an AOS member are expected to be an active member of an ornithological society in their country or region.
  • Grants will be awarded to a single Principle Investigator (PI). These are not collaborative grants, although collaborators can be named in grant. AOS will only award grant money to a single person, not multiple PIs listed on the same grant.
  • Applicants may not hold or have held at any time U.S., Canadian, or other federal grant support as a PI, or had university/institutional start-up funds intended for research, in excess of $100,000. Applicants who have been co-PIs are eligible to apply. AOS’s goal is to provide critical funding to early-career ornithologist who do not have access to other significant funds.
  • Applicants may not have received a Kessel Fellowship award previously.
  • Applicants may apply for only one AOS research award (Kessel Fellowship or Student & Postdoc Research Award) in a year and may hold only one award at a time.
  • Applicants who have received research funding from AOS in the past may apply as long as they meet all of the eligibility requirements listed above.

To Apply

Applications are due 15 January 2020. Applications must be submitted through our online Member Portal.

  • Clicking “Apply Now” on the page linked above will direct you to a login screen. If you have previously created an account, your Login ID is your email address. After logging in, you will be redirected to the Kessel Research Fellowship Program application page.
  • If you have not previously created an account, click Create Account at the lower left to set up your profile.
  • You can also navigate to the submission page from the Member Portal homepage under “Open Competitions” in the lower right.

You will be asked to fill out the online submission form in addition to uploading your proposal as a single PDF file. The research proposal must use 12 point font with one-inch margins on all sides. It should include all of the following components:

Research Plan (maximum 2 pages):
Introduction: background and description of the problem
Goals: short and long term goals of the research
Methods: clear, replicable, feasible, and relevant to goals
Timeline: consistent with the goals
Literature Cited (maximum 1 additional page)
PI Biographical Sketch (maximum 1 additional page): Please summarize degrees earned, experience, publications, and other relevant activities (e.g. service and outreach).
Budget & Budget Justification (maximum 2 pages total):
Click here to download a two-year budget spreadsheet template in Excel format (one page).
-Applicants may include travel funds in their budget to attend one AOS meeting where they will present the results of the research supported by this grant (see “Post-Funding Requirements” below).
-Salary for field assistants, lab assistants, or graduate students is permitted. Funding for PI or post-doctoral fellow salaries is not allowed. Overhead or Facilities and Administration costs are not allowed.
-Please limit your budget justification to one additional page.

Post-Funding Requirements

Successful applicants are encouraged to present their research at an AOS meeting and may budget these travel costs in their application if alternative travel funding is not available. Successful applicants are also expected to submit at least one manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal acknowledging the award.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am currently receiving funding for a research project, but not the project I’d like to propose for a Kessel Fellowship. Can I still apply?

You can apply if your current funding for any project is under $100,000. If your current funding exceeds $100,000, you are not eligible to apply. The goal of the Kessel Fellowships is to provide critical funding to early-career ornithologists who do not have access to other significant funds.

I’ve received past federal funding for research as the PI, but don’t have funding now. My research grant did not exceed $100,000. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. 

I was a co-PI with my advisor on a major grant that exceeded $100,000. I do not have funding now. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. Since you did not receive the grant as an independent researcher, but instead served as a co-PI under the mentorship of an advisor, you may apply.

Why are applicants from certain countries required to be AOS members, but not others?

AOS is an international professional society and serves ornithologists all over the world. By removing the requirement for AOS membership for applicants in some countries, we hope to eliminate barriers to ornithologists who are active in research and active in their local or regional ornithological society rather than in the AOS, but where there is limited, if any, research funding available. In this way, we hope to make this grant opportunity available for early-career ornithologists⁠ — AOS members and non-members⁠ — who are pursuing research but do not currently have access to research funding. We welcome applications from all postdocs and early professionals who meet the Kessel Fellowship eligibility requirements.

    From the field

    Do you want to help shape the future of AOS? Consider running for a spot on the AOS Council! Here's what current Elective Councilor Lauryn Benedict has to say about her experience so far. Nominations are due November 29, and you can find more details at the link in our profile!Climate change means spring is arriving earlier in the Arctic, but not all Arctic-breeding geese are affected the same way — some (such as the Barnacle Goose pictured here) successfully produce more offspring in years with earlier springs, but some produce fewer. New research published in The Auk suggests that this is because timing of spring has different effects on two different stages of the breeding cycle: the pre-laying, laying, and nesting phase, and the hatchling, fledgling, and juvenile phase. When snow melts earlier, more geese initiate a nest, their clutch size is larger, and the chance that the eggs will hatch increases. However, the second stage (hatchling, fledgling, and juvenile) is negatively affected by earlier springs, because food quality is already declining by the time the eggs hatch, creating a trophic mismatch. Photo by Michiel Boom. #ornithology #science #nature #wildlife #birds #geese #conservation #ecology #climatechange #arcticDo you want to help shape the future of AOS? Consider running for a spot on the AOS Council! Here's what current President-Elect Tom Sherry has to say about his experience so far. Nominations are due November 29!Thanks for letting me take over the AOS Instagram for a week! I hope I’ve given a good glimpse into my research and experiences. For all of the undergraduate ornithologists out there, I encourage you to strive for new horizons in your research! I plan on beginning a Master’s or PhD program in the fall of 2020 to continue my studies in ornithology. My future research interests include studying the genomic, behavioral, spatial, and morphological effects of hybridization and the formation of hybrid zones. #ornithology #science #wildlife #biology #birds #dogsofinstagram #womeninstem
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[Thanks, Angelica! If YOU are an AOS member and would like to be featured here for a week, please get in touch.]As a lover of the outdoors, I find myself looking for new experiences wherever I can. In the summer of 2018, I took part in a study-abroad intensive led by Dr. McRae and Dr. Kyle Summers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. I engaged in daily and nightly hikes through Pipeline Road and Barro Colorado Island and conversed with the resident scientists about their current studies and long-term research goals on Barro Colorado Island. My experiences in the rainforest encouraged me to pursue work in wildlife biology and conservation. #science #conservation #biology #wildlife #ecology #panama #womeninstem #ornithology
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[Our thanks to AOS member Angelica Reed (@angelicanreed), who's taking over this account for the week!]I began conducting field research in 2017. Since then, I’ve developed valuable skills and knowledge needed for working safely and effectively in the field, both with others and on my own. I’ve found that I’m never quite finished learning from the people and birds that I work with! Both photos belong to Dr. Susan B. McRae. #ornithology #birds #science #wildlife #bluebirds #womeninstem
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[Our thanks to AOS member Angelica Reed (@angelicanreed), who's taking over this account for the week!]As an undergraduate research assistant, I conduct routine nest checks of bluebird boxes. I enjoy watching the parents build nests through my binoculars! My thesis work investigates factors that affect nest size variation in a specific population of Eastern Bluebirds. I’ve found that the weights of the nests they build are positively correlated to mean daily maximum temperatures within boxes during the incubation period. I gave a poster presentation of my senior thesis work at the 2019 conference in Anchorage last summer! #AOSMember #ornithology #science #birds #wildlife #bluebirds #womeninstem
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[Our thanks to AOS member Angelica Reed (@angelicanreed), who's taking over this account for the week!]
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