Vol. 60, No. 2 | May 2015
 

2015 ABS CAREER AWARDS



CONGRATULATIONS TO 2015 CAREER AWARDEES



Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award – Paul Patrick Bateson

Sir Paul Patrick Gordon Bateson is being awarded the Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award for his lifetime commitment and the impressive intellectual contributions he has made to the field of Animal Behavior. For more than half a century Pat has dedicated his academic life to producing hundreds of scientific articles in leading journals, and editing numerous volumes. He has written several books including Measuring Behaviour with Paul Martin and Mate Choice, which have had huge impacts in shaping thinking in these fields. Pat has also supervised numerous PhD students. His passion is in the development of behaviour and “Working on the processes that translate genetic and environmental influences into behavioural outcomes”. Pat’s work on imprinting, and subsequent thinking about the neural bases of plasticity and the evolution of behavior as a plastic phenotype has had a profound impact, as has his work on play behavior and his work on applied animal behavior (ethics in the study of animal behavior) and animal well-being. His nominators had the following impressive things to say about Pat:

“Without a doubt he stands alongside those who established Animal Behaviour as an Academic Science and emphasized the importance of both a mechanistic and evolutionary approach from which the study of Behavioural Ecology emerged.”

“In the field of animal behaviour, he is incontestably a world leader, whilst he is the ‘go-to' internationally renowned authority on all aspects of behavioural development. His research over 50 years has included investigation of virtually every topic in animal behaviour, and it is difficult to overstate his lasting influence on the field.”

“In spite of his success and elevated status, Pat has always remained an extremely approachable and affectionate scientist and colleague. He is someone who is extremely dedicated to his students, lab members, and collaborators, and who makes time for anyone who would like to discuss their research with him. Pat’s commitment to teaching is legendary.”

“Pat has played a central role in moving the study of animal behaviour forward in many ways, especially with respect to melding the underlying mechanisms of behaviour with their adaptive function.”

“He writes with a clarity and literacy that are quite exceptional, and loves discussing ideas and getting to grips with problems. He has thus made a strong impact as someone who thinks deeply about animal behaviour and enjoys explaining it to others.”




Exemplar Award – Andrew Sih

The Animal Behaviour Society is pleased to announce that Andy Sih is going to be receiving the Exemplar Award in Anchorage this June. The Exemplar Award recognizes individuals who have made long-term contributions to the study of animal behavior, and Andy’s lifetime achievements are richly deserving of this award. Andy has made extensive contributions to the fields of animal personality, predator-prey interactions, and most recently, to how human-induced rapid environmental change influences behavior. He has published over 175 peer-reviewed journal articles, and is known as one of the most creative and integrative thinkers in ecology and evolution. He is a strong advocate of his students, known as being an incredible mentor and a generous and inspirational colleague. Here are some of the things his nominators had to say about Andy:

“Andy Sih has been a perennial lightning rod of the Animal Behaviour Society, and perhaps animal behaviour in general, for nearly three decades. During this time, Andy has made contributions of the highest caliber to the fields of predator-prey interactions, animal personality, and the impact of behaviour for animal performance in the face of human-induced rapid environmental change … In many ways, his work is responsible for adjusting the tone, topic, and the framework of the dialogues that occur in each of these sub-disciplines.”

“Andy’s career and impact on the fields of sexual selection and anti-predator behavior, personality, behavioral syndromes, social networks in the study of behavior, and his newest passion - HIREC (human induced rapid environmental change) have been nothing short of monumental. As his publications (and the impact of these publications) attest, his career integrates theory, empirical studies, conceptual advances, and, perhaps most importantly, key synthetic reviews that help shape and focus the field as a whole.”

“What strikes me about Andy’s contributions to animal behaviour is his unwavering commitment to apply ecological and evolutionary principles towards general problems and questions. Andy has used his strong foundation in theoretical models of animal behaviour (e.g., optimal foraging, social networks, phenotypic plasticity) with elegant empirical experiments to test and challenge our assumptions about adaptive behaviour. This combination of theory and empirical work has made Andy’s contributions broadly accessible and influential to a broad array of animal behaviour studies.”

“Andy is one of those rare creative thinkers that can comb through massive literatures, then synthesize, integrate and apply those ideas and observations in ways that pushes a field in entirely novel directions. At the same time, he is grounded in solid empirical work, which tends to make his syntheses accessible, realistic, and applicable to a range of systems. We’ve seen this in Andy’s exploration of behavioral syndromes, then networks and interactions, and most recently, thinking about responses to rapid human- induced environmental change. Andy is generous with these ideas. He has a lot of them, and he does not guard them closely, instead passionately throwing them out in a way that tends to inspire others to take them up and apply them to their own systems.”

“I regard Andy as the world leader in research into the behavioural flexibility of animals and the importance of individual behavioural flexibility, or the lack of it as in behavioural syndromes … His work not only integrates theory with empirical investigations, but also integrates across levels: from individual behaviour to the consequences of this behaviour for populations and communities.”




Quest Award – Bernard Crespi

The Quest Award, recognizing an outstanding seminal contribution in animal behavior, will be awarded to Bernie Crespi at the annual meeting in Anchorage this June. Bernie’s nomination for this award stems from applying conflict theory from animal behaviour to our own brains and behaviors. Bernie’s nominator writes “In this work, Bernie uses Trivers’ theory of parent-offspring conflict and Haig’s theory of genomic imprinting. An imprinted gene is one that is expressed differently when it passes through the mother or the father, often by differential methylation. One reason for imprinting is the conflicting interests about how much this particular offspring should receive from the mother. In a multiple mating species, the male may be selected to favor more investment in the baby he sires than the female is selected to give. As each evolves with the background of the other, an arms race might ensue. We can discover these conflicts when either the maternal or paternal half is disrupted because it will reveal the over-response of the other party. This, Bernie argues, with considerable evidence, is responsible for many social pathologies. His work in this area is still developing, but has been extremely powerful in changing our understanding of our own behavior.” Bernie’s academic record is superb, including over 150 research articles and book chapters. Here are some of the things his nominators had to say about Bernie:

“Bernie is an exceptionally creative scientist who has taken the principles from animal behavior and demonstrated their applicability to our own innermost psyches and social pathologies.”

“Bernie Crespi deserves the Quest Award to recognize all that he has taught us about the interconnectedness of different fields of biology with the ultimate phenotype - behavior.”

“Perhaps more than anyone else, Bernie has made it clear that theories coming from animal behavior are essential to understanding the way life is organized”

“Dr. Crespi has made fundamental contributions to the field of behavioral ecology and evolutionary genetics, and now is a leader in the emerging field of evolutionary medicine. Indeed, his recent application of genomic imprinting to the field of psychiatry has revolutionized our views of the etiology and treatment of autism and schizophrenia.”

“Over the past five years, Dr. Crespi's research has focused on the development and testing of a novel, ground-breaking and highly-controversial hypothesis: that autism and schizophrenia are 'opposite' disorders, genetically and with regard to the traits that characterize each mental disorder. Moreover, he and his colleague Christopher Badcock of the London School of Economics have argued that these disorders, and their opposite nature, are caused in large part by alterations to the expression of genes that are 'imprinted.' 'Imprinted' genes are genes that are only 'turned on' in an individual if they are inherited from either the father (paternally expressed) or the mother (maternally expressed). According to evolutionary theory, imprinted genes are expected to engage in conflicts within individuals, such that paternally expressed genes favor more 'selfish' physiology, morphology and behavior, while maternally expressed genes favor the opposite. Some of these ideas were first set forth in a journal article on autism, in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology in 2006. This article became, for a period of several months, the most-downloaded article in the journal.”

“Dr. Bernard Crespi is an outstanding candidate for a Quest Award. Crespi is creative, fearless, and scholarly. He has brought new questions into focus and changed the way we think about fundamental problems in behaviour.”

“Bernie Crespi is one of the two or three most creative evolutionary biologists of our time. His work combines basic theory and animal behavior with the potential for extraordinarily practical consequences for humans. I have followed most closely his work on the relationship between schizophrenia and autism, following up on the idea that there might be competition between maternal and paternal genomes as described by Trivers. This idea is so creative it's nearly outlandish, but evidence continues to accumulate that might be correct, including work published yesterday in Nature on the intimate relationship of these two disorders genetically.




Penny Bernstein Distinguished Teaching Award - Linda Rayor

Linda Rayor will receive the Penny Bernstein Distinguished Teaching Award at the annual meeting in Anchorage this June. Linda is known as a talented, dynamic, and inspiring teacher who draws in students with her style and then gives them an innovative and experiential course. Along with teaching animal behavior, she teaches a course on spider biology where students perform behavioral experiments with jumping spiders. Linda has had a huge influence on outreach, annually organizing a huge daylong insect fair (Insectapalooza). Linda’s work through Insectapalooza and her innovative course on how to effectively complete science outreach and organize outreach events, has resulted in a cultural shift at Cornell, where students and faculty now really appreciate how important it is to communicate science to the public. Her nominators have the following wonderful things to say about Linda’s style, passion, and impact:

“Dr. Linda Rayor is an incredibly passionate educator of animal behavior. She has contributed significantly in teaching animal behavior to undergraduates at Cornell University and educating the public about animal behavior. She is a perfect candidate for this prestigious award.”

“Linda is a talented and inspiring teacher who attracts students with her dynamic teaching style. She is well regarded for her innovative, experiential courses, her K-12 STEM Naturalist Outreach Program, and for her role in the Department of Entomology’s 1-day Insect Fair, Insectapalooza.”

“Linda has a strong background in ecology and behavior and she has excelled at teaching. Linda has a wealth of teaching experience. For example, she offers a hugely popular course on Spider Biology “Life on a Silken Thread”, Insect Behavior, which introduces students to the fascinating world of animal behavior, and a Naturalist Outreach Practicum.”

“In Linda’s classroom, the atmosphere is one of joyful, purposeful learning. It is clear that Linda has a warm rapport with her students. She pushes them, and they want to make her proud.”

In my experience, Linda models the communication of science with “passion and clarity” both in her classes and through her outreach. I cannot imagine that there is a stronger candidate than Dr. Linda Rayor for the Animal Behavior Society’s Penny Bernstein Distinguished Teaching Award.”

“Throughout my time in academia, I have not met a single person as committed to education as Dr. Linda Rayor.”




Outstanding New Investigator Award – Emily DuVal

Emily DuVal will receive the Outstanding New Investigator Award at the annual meeting in Anchorage this June. Emily’s nomination for this award stems from her creative ability to address fundamental questions pertaining to the evolution of mate choice, cooperation, and life-history tradeoffs in tropical Lance-tailed Manakins. Manakins perform spectacularly coordinated displays between multiple males, but only the alpha males get to mate. Emily’s research addresses the evolution of these cooperative courtship displays. Her PhD research eliminated paternity and kin selection as drivers, instead suggesting that beta males cooperate to receive future opportunities to be the alpha male. Her postdoctoral research quantified the benefits females obtain by mating repeatedly with alpha males. Her research as an independent investigator reveals the complexity of the system, showing that females prefer a combination of age and experience, preferred males are more heterozygous, and their chicks have higher survivorship. She has had numerous grants from NSF, National Geographic, and NESCent, as well as won several awards for outstanding teaching, presentations, and mentorship.

“Emily is all that we treasure in brilliant young investigators: intelligent, creative, prolific, and supportive. Her work is transforming our understanding of one of the biggest enigmas in animal behavior: leks.”

“Some people choose systems where it is easy to see why the organisms have evolved particular attributes and use these clear cases as examples. Others perhaps more adventurously choose organisms that seem to go against everything we know. If we can understand them, we have learned a lot. Emily is firmly in this latter camp.”

“It is difficult to capture fully the depth of the research program that Emily has built. As a doctoral student, she developed the idea of examining reproductive cooperation in lance-tailed manakins, thereby focusing her doctoral studies on a conceptual issue that is central to behavioral biology. Working independently, she established a field site for the project in western Panama, where she continues to work today. Over the years, Emily has banded an astounding number of birds, located countless manakin nests, and developed an unparalleled data set on Neotropical avian behavior. This is not just an exercise in data collection, however – Emily has consistently sought opportunities to explore new aspects of sexual selection, including the innovative use of remote monitoring technology to document females´ visits to male display perches. All of these efforts are hypothesis-driven and reflect Emily’s ability to see to the conceptual core of a behavioral problem. Given this combination of insightful thinking, dedicated fieldwork, and willingness to explore new ideas, I expect that Emily will make multiple significant contributions to our discipline in the coming years.”

“Emily’s work has creatively addressed questions at the core of animal behavior and evolutionary biology—the evolution of cooperation, the basis of mate choice, and the consequences of life-history tradeoffs. Emily’s approach has been integrative, addressing these questions from both mechanistic and functional angles. She is a stellar empiricist and a careful natural historian, collecting long-term data on a tropical study system with diverse assistants at a field site that she built from the ground up with local community support.”

 
ABS Newsletter

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Animal Behaviour

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