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UW’s Tarwater Receives American Ornithological Society’s Brina C. Kessel Award

April 17, 2020
woman with a bird
Corey Tarwater, a University of Wyoming assistant professor in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, is a winner of the American Ornithological Society’s Brina C. Kessel Award. The award is presented to the author of an outstanding paper published in the two preceding years in the society’s journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances. Here, Tarwater holds an olivaceous flatbill. (Anna Chalfoun Photo)

Corey Tarwater, who studies birds for a living, received a feather in her research cap.

Tarwater, a University of Wyoming assistant professor in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, is the recipient of the American Ornithological Society’s (AOS) Brina C. Kessel Award. The award is presented to the author of an outstanding paper published in the two preceding years in the AOS journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

Tarwater, Ryan Germain and Peter Arcese were honored for their 2018 paper, “Examination of context-dependent effects of natal traits on lifetime reproductive success using a long-term study of a temperate songbird.” This paper, based on a long-running study of a song sparrow population on an island off the coast of British Columbia, showed that survival and lifetime reproductive success were heavily affected by a suite of natal characters, but that maternal age and inbreeding coefficient affected both traits.

“There are many amazing papers published in the journal, The Auk: Ornithological Advances, every year, and I am humbled that my co-authors and I had a paper that the AOS committee felt made a significant contribution to the field of ornithology,” Tarwater says. “I hope that current and future ornithologists find our paper useful for the development of their own future research.”

The award includes a $1,000 cash prize. It is given in honor of Brina Kessel, former president of the American Ornithological Union (1992-94) and beloved leader and mentor in ornithology.

“In 2020, we once again have the pleasure of recognizing the impressive talent and incredible achievements of ornithologists at both early and senior career stages,” says AOS President Kathy Martin. “Presenting the achievements of the award winners for this year provides a ray of sunshine as we contemplate living with current global challenges.”

Tarwater says the prize money will go toward travel, so that she and the two other researchers, both from the University of British Columbia, can get together and collaborate on other papers they have discussed writing.

Her research interests are broadly focused on the links between ecology, evolution and behavior of year-round resident birds; and using individual-based studies to understand variation in individual fitness and population demography.

Tarwater received her Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and conservation biology, and her master’s degree in natural resources and environmental sciences, both from the University of Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in wildlife, fish and conservation biology from the University of California-Davis. She conducted her postdoctoral work at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

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