Wow — what a year! As we think back on everything that happened in 2021, we reflect on the strength and resilience of our community and our gratitude at working alongside such dedicated, passionate and skilled colleagues. Through your research, your service to AOS, your engagement, and your financial support, you create the diverse, vibrant, and global professional community that is AOS. Thank you for your membership and for your contributions to the field of ornithology.
Our dedicated volunteers, hardworking staff, committed donors, and supportive members helped AOS thrive in a year of uncertainty and transition. Here are some of the highlights from 2021:
An inclusive Annual Meeting: Our second fully virtual Annual Meeting welcomed 1,264 participants from 47 countries, including 641 students and 306 first-time AOS meeting attendees. In addition to 13 symposia, 422 oral presentations, and 91 posters, our meeting featured engaging plenaries that blended strong science with deeply personal stories and highlighted diverse voices from across the ornithological community throughout the conference, including a Black Women Ornithologists roundtable and a symposium focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice: Research and Practice in Conservation.
Working to broaden our community: We are proud to demonstrate our commitment to broadening our community and creating a Society that welcomes and fosters ornithologists from different backgrounds, across different geographies, and pursuing different career paths. In 2021, AOS engaged a consulting organization, Diversity Crew, to help us build a strategic plan for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) within AOS. Look for that plan’s release in early 2022. In the meantime, in 2021 we’ve taken steps to make our leadership pipeline more transparent and accessible, and to improve the equity of our awards.
Celebrating and supporting strong science: Speaking of awards, in 2021 AOS was proud to support 71 student research awards, 10 student presentation awards (and 20 honorable mentions), 6 post-doc research awards, 5 early professional awards, and 4 publication awards. We also celebrated 9 ornithologists with senior professional and service awards. In total, AOS awarded $174,300 in 2021, $132,800 of which supported student and post-doctoral research.
An exciting leadership milestone: AOS’s first full-time Executive Director, Melinda Pruett-Jones, retired in July 2021, after seven years with AOS. AOS was proud to welcome Dr. Judith Scarl as our new Executive Director. Building on Melinda’s dedication to professionalizing AOS, Judith’s expertise in strategic planning, DEIJ, and linking science to conservation will help guide AOS towards a rich future of continued success.
We have much to look forward to in 2022: our first in-person meeting in more than two years, an exciting strategic planning process that will help us look forward and ensure a strong future for ornithology, implementing our DEIJ strategic plan, and a strong grants program, including a continuation of our Kessel Fellowship and Diversity and Inclusion and Caregiver Grants for our annual meeting. We so appreciate all of the ways you support the AOS community, and we ask you to consider joining us in donating today to support AOS’s impactful programming, such as our student travel awards program, DEIJ strategic plan implementation, or our upcoming inclusive and exciting annual meeting.
When we talk to members—from students to retirees—about what they value most about AOS, so many of you indicate that it is the AOS community that is such an important part of the AOS. Thank you for being a valued member of this community, and thank you for all you do to welcome the next generation of ornithologists into our fold.
AOS Executive Director