Applications for AOS Student & Postdoc Research Awards are now closed. The next application cycle will open 1 December 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 Research Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate) in all areas of avian biology.
  • Betty and Herbert Carnes Research 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 Research 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 Research Award: Supports graduate student research (Masters or Doctorate), with preference given to those studying birds in the wild.
  • Mewaldt-King Research 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 Research 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 (see also “Funding Opportunities” on this page). 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

Applications are now closed. The next application cycle will open 1 December 2020.

  • Clicking “Apply Now” 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 Student Research Award 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.
  • Note: Please only create one application in the system. If you save a draft of your application, please continue editing it the next time you log in rather than starting a new application.

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 my application be accepted after the deadline on the AOS website and in the competition portal?  No, the posted deadline is firm and applicants are encouraged to complete their application well ahead of the deadline. All applications received prior to the deadline are acknowledged with a confirmation notice from AOS.
  • 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.
  • Can an individual receive research award funds directly, or do they need to go through an institution? Funds can go directly to an individual recipient; however, if an individual receives the payment directly, tax documentation is needed and the payment is reported to the IRS as taxable income. If an award recipient receives the check directly, we recommend that they consult with a tax professional regarding the documentation they need for tax filing purposes. It is generally in the recipient’s best interest that the funds go through their institution.
  • Can a proposal be in a language other than English? No, only proposals submitted in English will be accepted.
  • Does my project need to be completed within a year? The Research Awards Committee evaluates proposals based on the expectation that the research will be completed within the calendar year. If delays cause a recipient to deviate from the one-year time frame, they are required to justify a no-cost extension in their reporting.

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

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. Learn more at the blog post linked in our profile! 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!]We recently investigated the roles American Kestrels can play in pest management in fruit-production systems. Working with famers in Michigan, we built and installed kestrel nest boxes in sweet cherry orchards. While kestrels nest in the boxes, they provision their young with arthropods, mammals, and birds that consume the cherries. Kestrels also reduce fruit-eating bird activity in the orchards with their presence. Photo credits include Amanda LaFay and Craig Sklarczyk. #ornithology #birds #wildlife #science #raptors #kestrels #orchards #ecology #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!]Hi, I’m Catherine Lindell, #AOSMember and Editor-in-Chief of AOS journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications! I'll be taking over the AOS Instagram account this week. I’m an associate professor at Michigan State University in the Integrative Biology Department and the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations. My students and I investigate the roles birds play in managed ecosystems like agroecosystems and areas undergoing restoration. Photos by Sean Williams and Steve Roels. #ornithology #science #ecology #birds #restoration #biology #womeninstem
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