The capstone speaker for the 2017 meeting will be Dr. Kay Holekamp. Dr. Holekamp’s research focuses on mammalian behavioral development and its physiological substrates. In particular, her research focuses on the ontogenetic development, physiological substrates, and evolution of mammalian behavior. Kay and her students are currently pursuing various lines of research investigating how social, ecological, and physiological variables interact during an individual’s early development to influence its subsequent behavior and its reproductive success as an adult.
The American Society of Mammalogists Conservation Awards Committee selected Héctor Ramirez-Chaves for the 2016 William T. Hornaday Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. Héctor is now a doctoral student at the University of Queensland in Australia and he has already made a strong impact on mammalian conservation in his homeland in northern South America and more recently with his fieldwork in Central Asia. Héctor has authored over 45 peer-reviewed papers (and many more technical reports), three books and four book chapters on various aspects of mammalogy. His published works include studies in conservation biology, natural history, and distribution studies of rodents, bats, shrews, anteaters, and especially small carnivores. He has also produced synthetic investigations of patterns of species richness and endemism in Neotropical mammals.
The 2015 recipient of the Albert R. and Alma Shadle award is Silvia Pavan from the City University of New York and the American Museum of Natural History. Ms. Pavan’s research focuses on the phylogeny, biogeography, and systematics of the genus Monodelphis (short-tailed opossums), the most species-rich genus of New World marsupials. Ms. Pavan has published 8 scientific papers in such journals as American Museum Novitates, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. She has presented her research at multiple conferences across North and South America, including the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. Ms. Pavan has received numerous fellowships, the award for the best oral presentation at the 2010 Brazilian Congress of Mammalogy, and research grants totaling approximately $18,000. She is a member of the Brazilian Society of Mammalogy and the American Society of Mammalogists.
The 2016 recipient of the Albert R. and Alma Shadle award is Angela Hornsby from the University of Nevada, Reno. Ms. Hornsby has published papers in Journal of Mammalogy, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, and Journal of Biogeography, and has presented her research at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists on 6 occasions. Ms. Hornsby has received numerous fellowships, including a 4-year NSF EPSCoR Nevada Climate Change Program fellowship, and research grants totaling approximately $17,000. She has also been very active in service and outreach, including as a manuscript reviewer for several journals, as a volunteer at UNR’s Museum of Natural History, in teaching high school students about genetics, and as the founder and coordinator of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Science Day at UNR. Ms. Hornsby’s research focuses on how mammals (particularly Neotoma) react and adapt to changing environments, and utilizes field collections, museum specimens, and ancient DNA.
The recipient of the 2016 American Society of Mammalogists Award is Bryan McLean from the University of New Mexico. Mr. McLean is the author of 6 publications in journals including Journal of Mammalogy, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and Oecologia. He has presented at numerous scientific conferences, including 6 presentations at meetings of the American Society of Mammalogists. Mr. McLean is also a recent recipient of the Peter Buck Fellowship from the Smithsonian, and the Horner Award for the highest-ranked ASM Grant-in-Aid of Research proposal. Mr. McLean has served on the ASM Systematic Collections Committee for 4 years. Mr. McLean’s research focuses on the evolutionary diversification of ground squirrels, and uses approaches from molecular biology, genomics, paleontology, and morphometrics.
The 2016 recipient of the Joseph Grinnell Award is Dr. Joseph A. Cook, Professor of Biology, Director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology, and Curator of the Divisions Mammals and Division of Genomic Resources at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Joe’s career exemplifies the integration of teaching and research; he has mentored nearly 40 graduate students and 10 postdoctoral fellows, supervised more than 50 undergraduate research projects, and mentored over 85 high school students. With these students, he has published over 180 scholarly works. Joe regularly teaches Mammalogy and Tropical Biology courses and many students note that these are the best classes they have ever taken. He has remained committed to maintaining a rigorous field component in these courses providing students unique hands on learning opportunities “in the environments where organisms exist and the threats to them are observable.” Students note his commitment to training “broadly educated students who are thoughtful, aware and engaged.” And that he “gives people the tools they need, puts them in situations where they can succeed and challenges them to do so.” Joe is widely recognized for his career-long commitment to broadening diversity in the STEM disciplines and to stimulating academic development of local, minority, and native students across South, Central, and North America. The intellectual nexus for this geographically and culturally diverse community has been: fundamental ecological and evolutionary research firmly rooted with natural history collections. Joe has led initiatives like the UNO program to immerse student scholars in ecological and evolutionary research, the AIM-UP program that integrates natural history collections into undergraduate education, and the ISLES program that links university researchers, public school teachers and natural resource agencies to stimulate museum-based learning.
The recipient of the 2016 Aldo Leopold Award is Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet, Professor of Biology, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada. Dr. Festa-Bianchet has focused on understanding how ecological change and selective pressures may affect the population biology and reproductive strategies of mammals. He and his more than 40 graduate students have used critical tests of ecological and evolutionary theory as a basis for pressing conservation and management issues in Canada, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. Much of his work has emphasized the importance of individual responses of wildlife, especially ungulates, through long-term monitoring of marked individuals. Dr. Festa-Bianchet’s studies of the evolutionary impact of trophy hunting are well known and have demonstrated how hunters can affect morphology and life history and ultimately may be detrimental to local populations. His highly influential contributions have caused wildlife managers to re-examine the potential ecological and evolutionary impacts of harvest management strategies. Dr. Festa-Bianchet’s efforts to translate research into conservation policy have been critical in Canada and globally. In Canada, he was elected Chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada for two terms (2002-2006) and co-Chair Terrestrial Mammals Species Subcommittee. While leading these committees, Dr. Festa-Bianchet carefully assembled expertise on threatened species and then guided his committee’s efforts to develop thoughtful and effective conservation plans for Canada’s terrestrial mammals throughout the first decade of the 21st Century. For more than 15 years, he also has served as Chair of the IUCN\SSC Caprinae Specialist Group and he is on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Wildlife Fund. His many students have moved into prominent roles in academia, government, and private industry, where they continue to contribute to the conservation of mammalian biodiversity. In total, Dr. Festa-Bianchet’s research, mentoring, and public service activities over the past three decades have significantly impacted the conservation of mammals (and other organisms).
The 2016 recipient of the Merriam Award is Dr. Joel Brown from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Brown is an evolutionary ecologist who explores how does natural selection acting as an optimization process determines feeding behaviors, population characteristics, and the properties of communities. His research includes the mathematical formulation and field tests of models and hypotheses based on foraging theory, consumer-resource models of species coexistence, and evolutionary game theory using the concept of evolutionary stable strategies (ESS). At present, he is using the giving-up density approach to examine the ecology of fear in fox squirrels, the community organization of desert granivores in the Negev Desert, Israel, the effects of granivory, herbivory, and fire on prairie restorations, and applications to the ecology of black rhinoceros, show leopards preying upon blues sheep, and mountain lions preying upon mule deer.
Tara Pruett is a Spring 2017 graduate from Louisiana State University at Alexandria. She grew up in a small rural town in central Louisiana and because of her rural upbringing, she knew she wanted to do have a career with wildlife at a young age. Tara discovered the great world of field work as a sophomore in college and has focused most of her undergraduate research on small mammals of Louisiana, specifically the eastern woodrat and the southern flying squirrel. She hopes to continue her career in wildlife research.
Brazier Howell Award
Tali Hammond is finishing her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkeley, working in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology under advisor Eileen Lacey. Her dissertation research uses fecal glucocorticoid metabolites and accelerometers to explore interspecific differences in the behavior and physiology of two partially co-occurring California chipmunks that have exhibited divergent responses to the past century of climate change. Tali has always been interested in using comparative studies and placing behavioral ecology and physiology into a conservation context. Though she will always love small mammals, next she will be moving on to a new system and sub-field, exploring disease ecology and reproductive behavior and physiology in frogs as an NSF Post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Cori Richards-Zawacki at the University of Pittsburgh.
Elmer C. Birney Award
Brett Jesmer is broadly interested in the foraging ecology, nutritional physiology, space use, life history, natural history, and conservation of mammals. His dissertation work at the University of Wyoming aims to synthesize this diversity of disciplines to understand how behavioral and physiological plasticity is used to cope with resource limitation. By understanding how behavioral and physiological plasticity mediates the impacts of resource limitation on demography, Brett is creating new tools and approaches for monitoring resource limitation and assessing proximity to carrying capacity. Although his dissertation addresses these questions using ungulate systems (moose, mule-deer, and bighorn sheep), he plans to incorporate his experience with rodents and mesocarnivores into future research. Prior to starting his dissertation, Brett worked as a mammologist at the University of Wyoming, University of California, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the State University of New York.
Anna M. Jackson Award
Dr. Andrea Dechner is a wildlife ecologist interested in the ecology and conservation of mammals and ecological modeling of populations and communities. She completed her undergraduate degree in ecology at Universidad Javeriana (Colombia), and recently received her PhD in fisheries and wildlife, and in ecology, evolutionary Biology and Behavior from Michigan State University (USA). Dr. Dechner’s current research focuses on the ecology of mammal communities in agricultural landscapes. She has five years of field work experience in Latin America while working with/for public and private organizations in Brazil, Colombia and United states.
Annie M. Alexander Award
Josh Barry grew up in a rural area located in SW Pennsylvania. By age 9, Josh was fascinated with the wilderness, frequently escaping into the forests surrounding his home. He received a B.S. in Biology at Pennsylvania State University while studying abroad in Costa Rica and working full-time in a University Entomology Laboratory. Thereafter, he completed two big cat internships, one working with previously neglected and abused large carnivores. For his graduate thesis, Josh spent five months living in a tent outside of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, south of Yellowstone National Park. Touching on his previous invertebrate experience, he wanted to incorporate cross disciplines into his project, combining Entomology with Carnivore Ecology.