Welcome to the New Members of the AOS Council!

We are excited to announce the winners of the recent AOS Council election! The Council is AOS’s governing body, made up of members who volunteer their time to oversee the Society’s strategic direction, policies, budget, and organizational planning. The four new Elective Councilors (below) will be joining eight Elective Councilors and four officers (President, President-Elect, Treasurer and Secretary) already serving terms. Andy Jones and Rebecca Kimball were also re-elected as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively, in the recent election, running unopposed. They will officially take office at the upcoming AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

Sara Kaiser, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation Genomics

Sara’s statement: “AOS is my home society. I attended my first meeting in 2001 to present my undergraduate research. The experience was transformational. Even at that early stage, I was welcomed into the community and immediately felt a sense of belonging. AOS continued to support me as a graduate student through travel, research, and presentation awards and as a professional working in multiple sectors ⁠— NGO, government, and academic. AOS meetings have become reunions bringing together colleagues from different chapters of my life ⁠— a chance to catch up with friends and their science ⁠— and I rarely miss a meeting. My service to the society has focused on identifying the challenges and concerns facing early professionals and on working towards solutions to meet the emerging needs of their membership. As an AOS council member, I will 1) support professional development programs that are inclusive of diverse career paths, 2) provide service and leadership opportunities to support a diverse and inclusive ornithological community, 3) promote engagement of undergraduate members, 4) support membership incentives that provide access to meeting workshops to members unable to attend and to professional development programs throughout the year, and 5) support travel, research, and presentation awards for members from Latin America. My service to the society as Chair of the Early Professionals Committee, member of the Membership and Meetings Coordination Committee, and co-organizer of events with the Student Affairs Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee demonstrate my commitment to these goals.”

Erica Nol, Professor of Biology at Trent University

Erica’s statement: “The American Ornithological Society can make a significant contribution to the study and conservation of birds by fostering communications between scientists worldwide who are struggling to maintain natural habitats while continuing to conduct ornithological research. AOS can accomplish this through effective communication, its scientific journals, strategically-located annual meetings, continued excellent support for student and young professional travel awards and ongoing outreach to our international partners. I believe in promoting and nurturing diversity in our society and hope that we can use our finances effectively to engage and assist scientists around the world in their work. I will be happy to serve the AOS as a councilor for the next three years.”

Lauryn Benedict, Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado

Lauryn’s statement: I have been a member of AOS (then the AOU and the COS) since 2001, when I was a beginning graduate student. The Society has offered me valuable resources and an active professional network; I welcome the opportunity to further improve its offerings and culture. I believe that the ornithological community is strengthened by the participation of diverse stakeholders with a range of research interests, goals, and perspectives. I am committed to AOS’s mission to advance ornithology as a science, to improve avian conservation efforts, and to promote the professional success of its members. We can best achieve this mission by welcoming researchers at all career stages, by establishing connections across the Americas, by supporting excellent science, by translating that science into actionable initiatives, and by making all of these outcomes widely visible. To further these goals, I have served as an editor for two AOS publications. I support the Society’s move towards open access publishing and would work to help our journals publish high quality, widely accessible research. I believe that creating a welcoming community for students will build a stronger society, and I am invested in supporting early career scientists. I have helped to plan multiple meetings, including organizing Undergraduate Symposia that foster student involvement. In an effort to retain early career researchers within the field, I worked with the AOS Diversity and Inclusion and Executive committees in 2018 to draft a best-practices document for creating family-friendly policies at annual meetings. This resulted in caregiver grants implemented for 2019 and expanded accommodations for conference attendees. I look forward to growing and improving these resources and others in the years to come.”

Kristen Ruegg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Colorado State University

Kristen’s statement: “My career has followed a non-linear path for a variety of personal and professional reasons, but the one thing that has always remained constant is the support I have felt from the American Ornithological Society. As a graduate student, I felt this support through travel grants, research awards, and the opportunity to participate in student-mentor lunches. As a postdoctoral researcher, I felt this support through the leadership and encouragement of several senior members of the society who offered sage advice during uncertain times in my career. As a mid-career scientist, I have enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the society and develop my leadership skills as an Associate Editor at The Auk: Ornithological Advances and a committee member for a variety of meeting related events. As an Elective Councilor for the American Ornithological Society, I welcome the opportunity to participate in the long-range planning for the society going forward. In particular, I welcome the chance to offer my expertise in fundraising to help secure financial support for ornithological research and my experience in networking with scientists from across the Americas (as part of my work with the Bird Genoscape Project) to help foster the Society’s diverse and vibrant community of researchers.  As someone who did not have a direct path through academia, I also believe I would be particularly well suited to help continue to develop programs that foster professional development for scientist in early and transitional career stages. Overall, as an Elective Councilor it will be my pleasure to work with other Society members to continue to build an inclusive, supportive community grounded in integrity, collaboration, and the desire to produce high-quality research.”

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