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UW’s Chalfoun to Receive First-Ever Stettenheim Service Award

February 12, 2018
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Anna Chalfoun, a UW associate professor of zoology and an assistant leader for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, will receive the first-ever Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award at the American Ornithological Society’s annual meeting in mid-April. (Anna Chalfoun Photo)

Anna Chalfoun, a University of Wyoming associate professor of zoology, will receive the first-ever Peter R. Stettenheim Service Award at the American Ornithological Society’s (AOS) annual meeting in mid-April.

Chalfoun, also an assistant leader for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and a member of the UW Program in Ecology faculty, will receive an award certificate and honorarium at the meeting in Tucson, Ariz.

She termed the upcoming honor as “an incredibly exciting surprise!” for her service to the AOS, which resulted after the merger of the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) and the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) in 2017. The AOS is an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds; enriching ornithology as a profession; and promoting a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds. 

“I love the people and the mission of the society, and have enjoyed being at the forefront of societal operations,” says Chalfoun, who plans to attend the annual meeting in Tucson, Ariz. “As scientists and faculty, moreover, there tends to be more criticism than accolades, so this was a nice acknowledgment to receive.”

Stettenheim, for whom the award is named, was a noted ornithologist.

“I have never met him,” Chalfoun says of Stettenheim, who passed away in 2013. “But, he sounds like a person who epitomized passion for ornithology and mentoring, and was a consistent contributor to the ornithological leadership.”

The award recognizes an individual established in his or her career, and who has performed outstanding and extensive service to the AOS. The award recognizes people who may have served in elected or appointed positions, but also emphasizes volunteer contributions, mentoring and committee participation.

Chalfoun currently serves on the AOS Conservation Committee; was an AOS Council member from 2015-17; and was on the AOU-COS Merger Advisory Committee during 2016-17. She is currently revising the Birds of North America account for the Brewer’s sparrow and sage thrasher -- two sagebrush songbirds that she and her students study.

She served on the Scientific Program Committee of the North American Ornithological Congress, based in Washington, D.C., from 2014-16.

She was president-elect of the COS from 2015-17; was a member of the COS Board Nominations Committee in 2015; and was a COS Board member and student awards chair from 2011-14. Chalfoun started the student presentation feedback program for conference talks and poster presentations.

The Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit conducts ecological research to help better understand, manage and conserve animal populations. The unit’s applied research program builds knowledge about fish and wildlife populations, and communities by seeking general solutions to specific management and conservation challenges.

Chalfoun’s research in her lab spans the disciplines of ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation biology; and diverse taxa, including birds, mammals and herpetofauna. Her main research focus is understanding the processes and factors that influence wildlife-habitat relationships, particularly in understanding why organisms select particular habitats and under what contexts such choices are adaptive.

In 2014, Chalfoun received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. That year, she was among 102 researchers presented the award, the U.S. government’s highest honor for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Presidential Early Career Award winners are selected for their “pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.”

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