Plenary II Speakers


The 2018 recipient of the Joseph Grinnell Award is Dr. M. Denise Dearing, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology, University of Utah. At the University of Utah, Denise has taught Mammalogy, Ecology Laboratory, Advanced Topics in Ecology and Evolution, and Bio-Boot Camp.  For excellence in the classroom, she was recognized with the 2001 Student’s Choice Award, and the 2008 Distinguished University teaching award at the University of Utah. Denise has sponsored 11 PhD students and 17 postdoctoral scholars, with whom she has published over 150 papers.  Nearly 75% of these individuals are from traditionally under-represented groups, but they now fill the ranks of various academic institutions and continue to train the next generation of mammalogists. For her achievements in mentoring, Denise was recognized by the University of Utah with the 2009 Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Distinguished Mentor award. Denise’s career has been exemplified by pushing the boundaries of mammalogy and functional ecology, for which she received the 2014 C. Hart Merriam Award, but she has also pushed the boundaries of what typically limits full inclusion in academia, especially for women. Denise was, herself, a first generation college student who began her education at a 2-year community college. As a new Assistant professor, when she was faced with limited options for childcare at her institution, she spearheaded a campaign to create a campus childcare program eventually called Biokids. She conceived the idea, developed the resources, rallied the faculty, acquired space, and oversaw the establishment of this facility that has improved the educational and working environment for women and families.



The recipient of the 2018 Aldo Leopold award is Dr. Steve Goodman of the Field Museum of Natural History. Although the primary focus of Dr. Goodman’s research has been on the mammals of Madagascar, he has conducted research in numerous other African countries. His principal research interests are: 1) inventories of unknown or poorly known forested areas, 2) describing new species and elucidating the evolutionary history of Malagasy mammals, 3) application of gathered data in the advancement of conservation programs, and 4) capacity building for Malagasy conservation biologists, particularly graduate students. Dr. Goodman is a founder of the Association Vahatra, a grass-roots organization that promotes conservation of Madagascar’s native fauna while training the next generation of Malagasy scientists in ecology and conservation biology. Over the last three decades, Dr. Goodman has helped create a whole generation of biologist and conservationists by training dozens of Malagasy graduate students and hundreds of undergraduates in modern ecological techniques, including best practices for field surveys, museum collections, data acquisition, and analysis. He has actively applied their distribution and abundance data to various large-scale conservation projects and were vitally involved in the 2003 national plan to triple the size of the protected areas system. Every letter of support highlighted the profound and lasting impact he has had, not only on the understanding of mammalian taxonomy and conservation, but on the Malagasy people as well. To date, Dr. Goodman has received numerous awards from other organizations for his major contributions, including the Biodiversity Leadership Award (Bay and Paul Foundation, 2004), the Conservation Leadership Award (World Wildlife Fund, 2004), and was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2005 and an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow in 2013.



Dr. Stan Boutin of the University of Alberta is the 2018 recipient of the C. Hart Merriam Award. He obtained his B.S. from the University of Alberta (Honors), and his M.S. (Zoology) and Ph.D. (Zoology) from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Boutin served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph, and ultimately was promoted through the professorial ranks at the University of Alberta. He now holds the Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair in the Department of Biology. Dr. Boutin has an exceptional record of publications, including 266 peer-reviewed papers. He also has published 1 book, and edited another—he has an additional 19 publications as book chapters and in symposia. He remains remarkably active with 57 papers published in the past 5 years, many with his numerous M.S. and Ph.D. students, and his Post-Doctoral Fellows. Dr. Boutin also has done an excellent job of funding his research and that of his graduate students and Post-Doctoral Fellows. Since 1984, he has received $30 million from NSERC (the Canadian equivalent of NSF) and other sources. Dr. Boutin has made significant contributions to our understanding of mammalian behavioral ecology, population dynamics, and conservation biology. The body of research for which Dr. Boutin is most renowned is his ground-breaking research into the factors that drive the evolution and dynamics of wildlife populations. Using mammals as his primary focus, he has made major and fundamental contributions to our understanding of predator-prey dynamics, the role of food, habitat selection and spacing behavior as factors determining population size, and the contributions of the genotype and phenotype of organisms in facilitating their responses to changing environments. Using judicious field experiments and one of the longest population studies on any mammal (data on ~10,000 individual squirrels sampled over more than 25 years), allowed him to test hypotheses and extend theory in areas as diverse as the effects of personality on reproduction, senescence, energetics, maternal effects and other key components that underpin individual fitness. Dr. Boutin’s contributions to science have not gone unnoticed. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has received the Society’s Romanowski Medal for contributions to environmental sciences. He was honored with the J. Gordin Kaplin Award for excellence in research (the University of Alberta’s highest research honor). He received the William Rowan Distinguished Service Award from the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society, as well as 2 Outstanding Publication Awards from The Wildlife Society.