The next application cycle for AOS Student & Postdoc Research Awards will open December 1, 2019, and close January 24, 2020.

AOS gives annual Student Research Awards of up to $2,500 to support research in various areas of avian biology by undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs. AOS encourages undergraduate students from any region to apply. These awards are administered by the Research Awards Committee.

Postdocs may also be interested in AOS’s Kessel Fellowships for Ornithological Research.

The AOS Research Awards

  • Donald L. Bleitz Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate) in all areas of avian biology.
  • Herbert and Betty Carnes Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate); designated to support women who are non-smokers (i.e., have not smoked for at least the previous six months).
  • Joseph Grinnell Award: Supports beginning research efforts of doctoral students in their first or second year of enrollment, in any aspect of avian biology.
  • Werner and Hildegard Hesse Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate), with preference given to those studying birds in the wild.
  • Mewaldt-King Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate) in any area of ornithology that relates to the conservation of birds. Studies of species from threatened ecosystems or that reference large-scale conservation issues such as climate or landscape change are especially welcome, as are studies that involve the demographics, breeding biology, or disease ecology of species that are endangered, threatened, or otherwise of management concern.
  • Margaret Morse Nice Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate); designated to encourage ornithological research by women students.
  • Josselyn Van Tyne Memorial Research Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate) in all areas of avian biology.
  • Alexander Wetmore Memorial Research Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate) in avian systematics, paleo-ornithology, biogeography, and especially neotropical biology.
  • AOS Student Research Awards: Multiple awards supporting student research (Undergraduate, Masters, Doctorate, non affiliated researcher) in all areas of avian biology.
  • AOS Postdoctoral Research Awards: Multiple awards supporting postdoctoral research in all areas of avian biology for those that do not have access to major funding and can demonstrate need.

Applicants need not indicate that they are applying for a particular award. After evaluating and ranking all proposals, the Committee Chair will determine which fund is most appropriate for supporting the top proposals. All applicants will receive an email confirmation upon successful submission of their application and will be informed of the outcome of their application by 1 May.

Research Award Eligibility

  • The applicant must be an AOS member and a full-time or recently graduated undergraduate, masters, or doctoral student, OR a postdoctoral researcher without access to funds from major granting agencies.
  • The applicant must be the individual conducting the specific research project and responsible for data analysis.
  • An applicant may receive a maximum of one research award per year and two research awards per lifetime. Typically, two lifetime awards would consist of one award for an M.S. project and a second later award for a Ph.D. project; however, other scenarios are possible. Individuals are limited to one award per degree program or project.
  • Applicants for an AOS Research Award may also apply for funds from other sources such as the Frank M. Chapman Memorial FundSigma Xi, and Animal Behavior Society. However, requests for funding from other sources must be noted in your application. If successful in obtaining funds from both AOS and other sources, applicants are expected to notify the Committee Chair.

To Apply

Please submit applications using our online Member Portal. After logging in, click the “View Open Competitions” link in the lower right of your homepage and then select the appropriate award. 

Application Format

Applicants need to enter all required information in the AOS Research Awards online form in the Member Portal. In addition, applicants must upload their application as a single PDF file that does not exceed 8 pages. Applications not using this format will not be accepted.

A complete application consists of a proposal statement, a budget, and a curriculum vitae. Once your application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact us.

AOS Research Awards – Guidelines for Application Format (PDF)

Hints for Writing a Successful Proposal (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I submit my application after the deadline has passed? No. This is a firm deadline and we strongly encourage you to apply early to avoid any last-minute complications.
  • Does the Literature Cited have to be double-spaced? Yes. The proposal text through the Lit Cited should be double-spaced. Your Budget/CV can be single-spaced.
  • Is a letter of recommendation from my advisor required? No letters are required, but you must indicate that your advisor has approved the project.

Application Evaluation

Successful applications are usually built around one or a few carefully defined, feasible, and clearly delineated question(s). Other characteristics of a good proposal include necessary background information, alternative hypotheses (if appropriate), relevant citations and figures, and clear, concise writing. Common problems with applications include proposed research projects that are too broad and overly ambitious, objectives that are defined too loosely, and methods that are stated too vaguely. Review and critique of the application by your advisor and one or two additional colleagues will likely improve its readability and overall quality. Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Significance and originality of the scientific question
  • Clarity of the objectives
  • Feasibility of the plan of research
  • Appropriateness of the budget

Reporting and Accounting

Successful applicants are required to write a brief report summarizing their accomplishments so far (one page maximum, including one ore more photos of the applicant conducting their research in the field or lab) by December 31 in the year they receive the grant, and an equally brief report at the completion of their project or by one year after receiving the award, whichever comes first. These reports help AOS recognize award winners’ work and are necessary for IRS reporting on AOS grant programs. Successful applicants are also required to keep records of their expenditures and to submit a table of expenditures (with receipts) to the AOS business office at the end of their project or by the end of a year following award receipt.

Successful applicants must acknowledge their award from AOS in any publications resulting from the funded project. A PDF of any such publication (or thesis abstract) should be submitted to AOS as soon as the publication is available.

    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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