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2016 COS Young Professional Awards

COS is pleased to recognize Dr. Daniel Baldassarre and Dr. Peter Hosner as the 2016 recipients of the Young Professional Award. First awarded in 2009, this award recognizes early-career researchers for outstanding scientific research and contributions to the ornithological profession.

baldassarre-photo.jpgDaniel Baldassarre studies the intersection between behavioral ecology and speciation. In 2014 he received his PhD from Cornell University, where he studied how sexual selection influences speciation dynamics in the red-backed fairy-wren. This research entailed demographic studies of mating behavior in several wild populations, experimental manipulations, and genomic analyses. The project revealed strong sexual selection on divergent plumage color and song between two subspecies that results in complex genomic patterns of divergence and introgression. Subsequently, Dan was awarded an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Miami to study the evolution of blood feeding in the vampire finch of the Galápagos. For this research, he is quantifying ecological, behavioral, and genomic variation among blood-feeding and non-blood-feeding populations. He recently accepted a postdoctoral position at Princeton University, and is planning a project investigating phenotypic plasticity in desert and woodland breeding populations of the phainopepla in southern California. Dan’s research is often motivated by bizarre natural history, which inevitably leads him to exciting and fruitful research projects.

hosner-photo.jpgPeter Hosner investigates how geographical, environmental, and ecological factors limit avian distributions and how these factors influence patterns of diversification. To understand the geography of avian diversification, Peter infers evolutionary relationships and population history of bird species/populations with genomic data to test predictions from geological models, ecological niche modeling, and phenotypic assessments in comparative frameworks. His projects encompass multiple scales, from higher-level projects on major bird radiations to fine-scale studies of closely related species/populations. For his PhD at the University of Kansas, Peter examined the relative roles of geologic, marine, and environmental factors in isolating diversifying bird populations in the Philippine archipelago. He is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Florida, where he is using DNA sequences of genome-wide ultraconserved elements to resolve landfowl phylogeny. Peter’s research projects are specimen-based, utilizing new material collected during field expeditions supplemented with historical material collected by previous generations of museum biologists. He has led and conducted fieldwork in 12 countries in the Americas and Asia. These field expeditions have resulted in two newly described bird species to date, one from Peru and one from the Philippines.

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