Dr. Scott Edwards, AOS

Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University

Exploring, Discovering, and Cycling through the Diversity of Birds

Tuesday, 10 August, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

plenary speaker dr scott edwards

Dr. Scott Edwards is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Scott is an evolutionary biologist, with diverse interests in molecular evolution, phylogenetics, comparative genomics, and population genetics. His research uses birds as model systems, focusing on their evolutionary history and genome evolution, and fieldwork around the globe. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Florida to study interactions of birds and infectious diseases. His current work focuses on using phylogenetic trees and statistical models to link genome variation, especially noncoding DNA, and phenotypic variation. Scott has served as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Genetic Association, as well as on the Advisory Boards of the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. From 2013–2015 Scott served as Division Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the U.S. National Science Foundation, where he facilitated funding in areas such as undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral research experiences, supporting biological collections and major infrastructure and bioinformatics. He is an Elected Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (2009), the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2009), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2015), and the American Philosophical Society (2020). He has a long-standing interest in increasing the diversity of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty in evolutionary biology and biodiversity science.

Dr. Alice Boyle, SCO-SOC

Associate Professor at the Division of Biology, Kansas State University

Why didn’t I think of this before? Rain, movement, and changing perspectives on tropical and grassland birds

Wednesday, 11 August, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

plenary speaker dr alice boyle

Dr. Alice Boyle is an ornithologist and former professional violist who grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, surrounded by the Canadian grassland prairies. She earned her Bachelors of Music at the University of British Columbia. Fresh out of undergrad, she moved to Costa Rica to play in the Costa Rican National Symphony, when she started birding during her time off. What once started as an occasional hobby, sparked a passion for bird behavior and natural history, which eventually led to a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. She held postdoctoral positions at University of British Columbia and at Western University, where she was a postdoctoral fellow of Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. She followed a very non-traditional career path for a scientist and is thrilled the path has led here. Dr. Boyle, now surrounded by the grassland prairies of the Midwest region of the U.S., currently leads a prolific research group at Kansas State University, where she is an Associate Professor at the Division of Biology. She describes her lab interests as trying to understand ‘why animals do the things that they do in nature, and why some of them are in trouble.’ Her group investigates the consequences of environmental factors for bird populations. Some themes of her research include examining how rain affects avian ecology and life history evolution, for example, dispersal and migration movements, population dynamics, sexual selection, and brood parasitism. Currently, she leads research work in two very different systems: birds living in wet montane forests of Costa Rica; and grassland-dependent bird species living in the tallgrass prairies of the central U.S. Dr. Boyle is an elected member of the American Ornithologists’ Union, and elected fellow and council member of the American Ornithological Society, which awarded her in 2019, the Marion Jenkinson Service Award and in 2021, the Katma Award.


AOS Early Career Symposium

Thursday, 12 August, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

Dr. Sahas Barve, AOS

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History
Winner of the AOS 2021 Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award

Bird-nerd without borders : Curiosity and other motivations for integrative avian research

sahas barve sitting at table with bird collection laid out on table

Dr. Barve, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, is known for his scholarly work as well as his exceptional record of service to AOS. Dr. Barve’s research, which is focused on numerous aspects of behavioral ecology and eco-physiology of birds with an emphasis on Himalayan birds, has had demonstrable and wide-ranging impacts in both India and North America. Dr. Barve is an accomplished teacher and mentor who has mentored 19 undergraduate and seven graduate students representing five countries. Dr. Barve received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2017, having immigrated from India to the U.S. for his doctoral training. His notable publications include one that demonstrated that elevational migration was associated with a distinct hematological profile versus high elevation resident species in the Himalayas (Barve et al. 2016, Proc. Roy. Soc. B), adjustments to blood-oxygen carrying capacity, a study of the mechanisms causing elevational replacement in Himalayan titmice (Barve and Dhondt 2017, J. Avian Biology), three studies on social and nesting behaviors in Acorn Woodpeckers (Barve et al. 2019, American Naturalist; Barve et al. 2020, Ecology; Barve et al. 2020, Current Biology), and a comparative study of thermo-insulative properties of feathers in Himalayan birds (Barve et al. 2021, Ecography). In 2020, Dr. Barve published guidelines and recommendations for field studies by ornithologists in India in Indian Birds.

Dr. Ana Gonzalez, AOS

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Environment and Climate Change Canada
Winner of the AOS 2021 James G. Cooper Early Professional Award

From the Colombian Andes to North America: Research and conservation of Neotropical migratory birds

ana gonzalez sitting by lake with binoculars in her hands

Dr. Gonzalez, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Environment and Climate Change Canada, is being recognized for her outstanding publication record and her many accomplishments in conservation biology, including establishing important conservation agreements to maintain critical habitat for birds, and the widespread training of biologists in six countries on bird banding and tracking. She received her Ph.D. from University of Saskatchewan in October, 2018. Among her 12 publications are several notable contributions, including a paper linking migratory pace and departure time in Swainson’s Thrushes (Gonzalez et al. 2020, J. Animal Ecol.), a paper examining shade-coffee versus native forest as overwintering habitat for Canada Warblers (Gonzalez et al. 2020, Condor), and a paper showing how the topography of the Andes influences the non-breeding distribution of Canada Warblers (Gonzalez et al. 2018, Diversity and Distributions). Dr. Gonzalez’ research is marked by a holistic approach to the biology of migratory birds. She considers the full annual cycle of migratory species and uses a variety of methods to advance our understanding of factors influencing populations. She then applies a similar holistic approach to conservation efforts, which include identifying priority areas for conservation, training young biologists, working with rural farmers to conserve habitat, and promoting bird friendly coffee. Dr. Gonzalez is originally from Colombia and is the first Hispanic female recipient of the Cooper Award.

Dr. Luis Sandoval, AOS

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Ornithology Collection at Universidad de Costa Rica Escuela de Biología and Museo Zoología
Winner of the AOS 2021 Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award

City effect on bird communication and ecology

photo of luis sandoval

Dr. Sandoval, Assistant Professor and Curator of the Ornithology Collection at Universidad de Costa Rica Escuela de Biología and Museo Zoología, is widely respected for his work promoting diversity in the field of ornithology, and is recognized for a record of prolific scholarship, mentorship, and teaching for his career stage. Having published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers within six years of his Ph.D. from the University of Windsor (Canada) in 2014, Dr. Sandoval’s scholarly work is largely about natural history, vocal behavior, and the avifauna of Costa Rica. Dr. Sandoval has supervised nine graduate students already in his brief faculty career, and he has published more than 40 publications with these students. He is also an active member of ornithological societies, currently president of the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica. He was chair of the organizing committee for the 2019 Neotropical Ornithological Society meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. Dr. Sandoval is the coordinator of important bird areas in Costa Rica, as well as a co-coordinator of species assessments in Central Costa Rica. He has reviewed manuscripts for 36 scientific journals. He has earned a reputation for promoting diversity in the field of ornithology, in part through his commitment to activities such as leading bioacoustic and shorebird monitoring workshops throughout Central and South America, and organizing a roundtable about interdisciplinary studies of the House Wren at the 2020 NAOC.

Dr. Benjamin Van Doren, AOS

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
Winner of the AOS 2021 James G. Cooper Early Professional Award

Changing migrations in a changing world

Tuesday, 10 August, 1:05–1:30 p.m. (EDT) (Note: This talk will follow the plenary address from Dr. Scott Edwards.)

Dr. Van Doren studies global bird migration across scales, from individuals to continents, and his work spans ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford, where he studied drivers of change and flexibility in migratory behavior. As a Postdoctoral Associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, he focuses on leveraging complementary data sources to understand the dynamics of migration systems, including predicting large-scale migratory movements and mitigating negative impacts of human activity on migratory birds. His contributions as a science communicator to Birdcast.info have garnered more than two million views, his publications include three papers in The Auk (now Ornithology) and his service already includes more 32 paper reviews for various scientific journals, all extraordinary achievements for Dr. Van Doren’s career stage. His publications have been characterized by exceptional quality and have already contributed to multiple areas of avian ecology and evolution, including migratory biology (Van Doren et al. 2017, J. Avian Biol.), breeding biology (Van Doren et al. 2016, Behavioral Ecology; Van Doren et al. 2019, BBOC), conservation biology (Van Doren et al. 2017, PNAS), aero-ecology (Van Doren et al. 2015, Auk), genomics (Sendell-Price et al. 2020, G3), and systematics (Van Doren et al. 2018, Wilson J. Ornith.).


SCO-SOC Early Career Symposium

Friday, 13 August, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

Dr. Barbara Frei, SCO-SOC

Quantitative Wildlife Biologist, Environment and Climate Change Canada
SCO-SOC 2020 ECRA Recipient for Outstanding Contribution and Leadership Potential to Canadian Ornithology

Conservation of migratory birds in a rapidly changing world

Barbara Frei joined ECCC’s Canadian Wildlife Service in 2019 as a Quantitative Wildlife Biologist. She has demonstrated leadership in Canadian ornithology in a variety of contributions, including ornithological research, student mentorship, overseeing a research station, and being involved in species-at-risk policy, including authoring recovery strategies and COSEWIC status updates. Dr. Frei’s research has explored species-specific behaviour, habitat associations, population ecology, as well as broader themes including patterns of biodiversity, ecosystem services, landscape ecology, climate change and migration, and ‘bright spots’ in agricultural landscapes. She co-founded the McGill Bird Observatory (MBO) in 2004, serving as Director since 2012. She spearheaded MBO’s research program in 2014, co-supervising seven student theses and establishing a local Motus network. Dr. Frei is passionate about scientific communication, having training and taught hundreds of volunteers about birds and migration, given numerous public presentations on species-at-risk, a frequent guest on local radio, and reached out to teach children about birds via zoom classroom presentations and a guest appearance on children’s science TV show.  Dr. Frei’s training includes a Ph.D. from McGill University under James Fyles and Joe Nocera, an M.Sc. from McGill University under David Bird and Rodger Titman and B.Sc. from Carleton University. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Ottawa with Jeremy Kerr and at McGill University with Elena Bennett. She is currently on the board of directors for the Migration Research Foundation and served as a board member for Bird Protection Quebec and a councillor for the SCO-SOC.

Dr. Ryan Germain, SCO-SOC

Postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen
SCO-SOC 2021 ECRA Recipient for Outstanding Contribution and Leadership Potential to Canadian Ornithology

The role of life-history traits in mediating demographic sensitivity to past periods of climate change

Ryan Germain is a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, where he uses genomic and paleo-ecological tools to measure demographic responses of bird populations to climate change over the past one million years. Prior to moving to Denmark, he held postdoc positions at the University of Aberdeen (with Jane Reid) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (with Michael Webster and Scott Sillett), where he used long-term field studies to quantify the role of extra-pair mating on population relatedness structure and sexual selection. Dr. Germain’s broader research interests cover topics ranging from migration ecology, the role of plumage and song development in sexual signaling, the potential global conservation benefits of federal partnerships with Indigenous communities, as well as how researchers can effectively communicate findings with their target audience (including policymakers, natural resource managers, and the general public). His training includes a PhD from the University of British Columbia with Peter Arcese, and both a M.Sc. and B.Sc. from Queen’s University with Laurene Ratcliffe and Peter Marra. Dr. Germain has been an active member of the SCO-SOC and the broader North American Ornithological community since his undergrad, and is the recipient of several student research awards from both the SCO-SOC and AOS. He currently serves as an associate editor of Ornithological Applications, and is passionate about finding evidence-based conservation solutions to protect bird populations in Canada and around the world.

Dr. Mariana Villegas, SCO-SOC

Researcher at the restoration project carried on by the Santiago de Chirca Biological Station (Instituto de Ecología, UMSA)
SCO-SOC Special ERCA Recipient for exceptional contributions to South American, Central American, Mexican, or Caribbean ornithology

Ecological differentiation in some Passeriform birds of South America

Mariana Villegas obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz, Bolivia in 2006; her master’s in biology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (USA) in 2011. She did her Ph.D. at the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, at the University of Florida (U.S.) and she graduated in August 2016. For her Ph.D. dissertation she examined patterns of ecological differentiation at different scales and migration in the Yungas Manakin (Chiroxiphia boliviana, Aves, Pipridae) along an altitudinal gradient in montane rainforests in the tropical Andes of Bolivia. From May 2018 until July 2020 she has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and a casual researcher at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). For her postdoctoral research she examined variation in diet and stress responses over time in Darwin’s finches of Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, Ecuador. Currently, she is a researcher at the restoration project carried on by the Santiago de Chirca Biological Station (Instituto de Ecología, UMSA) in Yungas forests of La Paz (Bolivia), where she is studying seed dispersal by birds and bats in forest border areas affected by fire. Mariana is interested and most of her research has been focused on examining the influence of the environment on the ecology and evolution of birds in the tropics of South America, especially Bolivia, for which she applied different tools such as stable isotope ecology, ecological niche modeling, bioacoustics, etc.

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