Capstone & Plenary Speakers

Plenary I Speakers

2018 Annie M. Alexander Award

The 2018 recipient of the Annie M. Alexander Award is Emily Beasley. Emily grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, where a mild obsession with The Lord of the Rings soon grew into a deep appreciation for nature and maps. After completing her B.S. at Missouri State University, Emily started her Master’s at the same institution, combining her childhood interests in her biogeography-oriented thesis. Throughout the course of her undergraduate and graduate programs she also developed an interest in applying novel analytical tools to questions in the fields of community and disease ecology. Emily will start her Ph.D. research in Dr. Nick Gotelli’s lab at the University of Vermont in August 2018, where she will focus on small mammal community ecology, host-ectoparasite interactions, and infectious disease modeling.



2018 Anna M. Jackson Award

The 2018 recipient of the Anna M. Jackson Award is Erin Siracusa. Erin is a behavioral ecologist, particularly interested in how the social environment shapes individual changes in behaviour and fitness as well as the collective outcomes of groups. She is currently finishing her PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph where she works with Dr. Andrew McAdam. Her research uses red squirrels as a model system and combines long-term data analysis, behavioral observations, and field experiments to investigate the importance of the social environment for behavior and fitness in a solitary, territorial species. Erin’s research is part of the Kluane Red Squirrel Project, a long-term collaborative research initiative located in the southwest Yukon. Erin has always been a mammalogist at heart. Before working with squirrels, she wrangled porcupines with Dr. Erika Barthelmess at St. Lawrence University. When not chasing furry critters around the forest, you can almost always find her hiking or enjoying a good book.

2018 A. Brazier Howell Award

The 2018 recipient of the A. Brazier Howell Award is Casey Day. Casey is currently finishing his PhD in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University under advisor Patrick Zollner. His dissertation research utilizes individual-based modeling and population genetics to answer questions about movement ecology and functional landscape connectivity for reintroduced populations of American martens in Wisconsin. More broadly, Casey is interested in combining traditional field techniques with simulation modeling to answer questions about animal behavior and conservation. He finds simulating stimulating because simulation models provide a forum for the experimental testing of alternate mechanisms of landscape processes and animal behaviors that are difficult or impossible to reproduce in the field. In the near term, Casey is moving from working on mammals to working on their prey, as he is starting a postdoc at the University of Montana on the genetics and movement ecology of trout in the Pacific Northwest. He is confident that he can develop a mammalian predator component in his new modeling paradigm.


2018 Elmer C. Birney Award

The 2018 recipient of the Elmer C. Birney Award is Jesyka Meléndez-Rosa. Jesyka is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkeley, where she is advised by Dr. Eileen A. Lacey. She is broadly interested in animal behavior, particularly in the fields of mate choice and mating systems. Her dissertation work used emerging genomic techniques to study the immunogenetics of mating behavior in wild deer mice with different mating systems (monogamy vs. polygynandry). She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico and is excited to return to her alma matter as an NSF Post-doctoral fellow in the Fall of 2018. At the University of Puerto Rico, she will be working with Dr. Riccardo Papa on Heliconius butterfly chemosensory recognition and mate choice as well as organizing a science outreach program for K-12 students.


2017 William T. Hornaday Award

The American Society of Mammalogists Conservation Awards Committee selected Roberto Salom-Pérez for the 2017 William T. Hornaday Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. Roberto is a Costa Rican biologist who has over 11 years of experience working on mammal research and conservation, with an emphasis on jaguars. His Master´s thesis work, completed in 2003, included the first jaguar and ocelot density estimates in Costa Rica using camera traps. After his MSC, Roberto went on to work with Wildlife Conservation Society and then the worldwide wildcat conservation organization Panthera, as Costa Rican Director and Mesoamerica Coordinator. Currently, Roberto is working on his PhD in a Joint Doctoral Program between University of Idaho and CATIE University in Costa Rica. Those who wrote letters in support of Roberto’s nomination spoke highly of his work ethic and dedication to working with others to implement policy. Roberto’s work helped build a strong basis for the Jaguar Corridor Initiative and was fundamental for the signing in 2012 of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and Panthera for the conservation of jaguars. He later collaborated on developing similar agreements with the governments of Panama and Nicaragua.

2017 Albert R. & Alma Shadle Fellowship Award

The 2017 recipient of the Albert R. and Alma Shadle award is Brett Jesmer of University of Wyoming. Mr. Jesmer has received a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, a NASA Space Grant Fellowship, and was the recipient of the ASM Elmer C. Birney Award and the Alces Society’s Al Franzmann and Distinguished Colleagues Award. He also has received numerous grants from state and federal agencies to support of his research. Mr. Jesmer has been published in journals such as Ecological Applications, Journal of Mammalogy, and Frontiers in Genetics. He is an active member of ASM, serving on the Animal Institutional Care and Use Committee, and presented at the ASM conference each of the past four years. Mr. Jesmer’s dissertation research focusses on understanding how large mammalian herbivores, such as moose, deer, and bighorn sheep, behaviorally and physiologically cope with food limitations. By synthesizing several ecological sub disciplines and methodological approaches he strives to not only increase understanding of mammalian systems, but to also provide practitioners with new tools and approaches for management and conservation. Mr. Jesmer plans to use funds from the Albert R. and Alma Shadle Fellowship to investigate how moose may mitigate food limitations by altering their diet and gut microbiome.


2017 Oliver Pearson Award

Dr. Gutiérrez is original from Venezuela, where he completed a Licenciatura degree in Biology at the Universidad de los Andes. He then continued his studies at the City University of New York, obtaining a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior in 2012. Dr. Gutiérrez obtained a Peter Buck Fellowship from the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, where he was a postdoctoral researcher from 2012 to 2015. Since that year, he has been a research associate of Smithsonian Institution. In 2016 he moved to Brazil, where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Universidade de Brasília. In 2017 he accepted a position as visiting professor at Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, in the Rio Grande do Sul state. Dr. Gutiérrez is interested on a broad arrange of empirical, methodological, and conceptual questions pertaining to systematics, biogeography, and evolutionary ecology. Most of his work has either focused on or employed data of Neotropical marsupials, rodents, bats, and artiodactyls. His research and perspective pieces have been published in journals including Journal of Mammalogy, Mammal Review, Ecography, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Ecology and Evolution, American Museum Novitates, Nature, and Science. Dr. Gutiérrez is heavily involved in education of students through university courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, mentoring students’ research, and participating on workshops and invited seminars at universities.

Plenary II Speakers

2017 Joseph Grinnell Award

The 2017 recipient of the Joseph Grinnell Award is Dr. Robert M. Timm, Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of the Division of Mammals at the University of Kansas, Lawrence Kansas.  Bob’s career exemplifies the integration of teaching and research and his contributions to education in Mammalogy span formal classroom instruction, field-based courses, mentoring of graduate students, facilitation of museum-based research, and public outreach. At the University of Kansas, Bob taught Mammalogy, Diversity of Life, History and Diversity of Organisms, Introductory Biology, and courses in Tropical Ecology.  His field-based courses through the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) program researched hundreds of students and inspired many Latin American students to continue their studies in Mammalogy.  Students describe their experiences in these courses as having had a profound impact on their career trajectories, and setting the example for how they now teach their own courses. Bob is widely recognized by his colleagues for being particularly helpful to minority, international, and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. He has recruited Native American students for work in Central America and has found money to support their course and research expenses. He has spent countless hours working with Spanish-speaking students to perfect their English-language manuscripts. And, when visiting various countries, has volunteered his time in national and regional museums, donating specimens and reprints, sorting out their problem cases, and encouraging young museum curators in their efforts. He is known to be a truly Equal Opportunity teacher, mentor, and colleague.

2017 Aldo Leopold Award

The American Society of Mammalogists Conservation Awards Committee selected Dr. Gerardo Ceballos for the 2017 Aldo Leopold Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. Dr. Ceballos has been actively working on the diversity, ecology and conservation of mammals in Mexico and the entire world for at least 30 years. He is a pioneer in many fields in mammal ecology and conservation in Mexico. Not only has he led the first ever long-term community and population biology studies of Mexican mammals in the early 1980’s, but he has also pioneered reintroduction of endangered species such as the black-footed ferret and eradication of exotic species from islands of the Gulf of California. He has published well over 200 peer-reviewed papers in the primary literature and over 30 very influential books, including some of the most significant papers on mammal ecology, biodiversity, biogeography and conservation published in Science in the past couple of years. He has also published a truly daunting volume, the Mammals of Mexico, a major landmark in the discipline given the huge task at hand (Mexico is country # 3 in terms of numbers of mammal species in the world), and the extraordinary difficulty of attempting to compile this humongous, extremely useful volume for anyone working on mammals in Mexico and its neighboring countries. His influence has flourished and mushroomed, with dozens of his students occupying key positions in many universities, local, state, and federal government agencies, and virtually every NGO active in Mexico. All those that recommended him commented particularly on his extraordinary ability to “operationalize his science” and achieve meaningful conservation outcomes on the ground. Many of the most important protected areas in Mexico, from the Chamela-Cuixmala reserve (the only one with a significant extension of the endemic-rich Mexican tropical dry forest) to the San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California to the last remaining extensive grasslands of North America in Chihuahua, owe their existence in great part to his efforts.

2017 C. Hart Merriam Award

Dr. Mark S. Boyce of the University of Alberta is the 2017 recipient of the C. Hart Merriam Award. He obtained his B.S. from Iowa State University, his M.S. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and his Ph.D. from Yale University; he also was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford.  Dr. Boyce served as a Professor at the University of Wyoming, and held the Vallier Chair at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. He currently is the endowed Chair of the Alberta Conservation Association at the University of Alberta.  Dr. Boyce, who is a life member of ASM, has a prodigious record of publication, including >270 scientific papers and 6 books.  He remains exceptionally active with 70 papers published in the past 5 years, many with his numerous graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Professor Boyce has significantly advanced the state of scientific knowledge in several distinct areas of mammalogy. His publications cover an extraordinary range from the conceptual and theoretical development of the survival of small populations, the analysis of habitat requirements of animals, and threats to survival of species from human hunting, agriculture and other disturbances.  Mark is probably best known for his mathematical approaches to ecology, although he is also a first-rate naturalist and experimentalist. His research on Resource Selection Functions is widely cited, and used for animal populations world-wide. Dr. Boyce’s research also has made substantial international contributions to the conservation of mammals.  In 2007, he was the Safari Club’s International Conservationist of the Year. Mark also is a Fellow of the Wildlife Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and last year received that Society’s Romanowski Medal for contributions to environmental sciences. He also received the Astech Award for leadership in science in Alberta.

Capstone Speaker 

The capstone speaker for the 2018 meeting will be Dr. Blaire Van Valkenburgh. Dr. Van Valkenburgh’s research explores the fossil record of carnivores from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives, sometimes focusing on guilds of species in distinct time horizons, and other times focusing on the evolutionary trajectories of species over millions of years.