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2017 AOS James G. Cooper Young Professional Award Winners

The James G. Cooper Young Professional Award recognizes two early-career ornithological researchers (up to three years post-Ph.D.) for their outstanding contributions in any field of ornithology. First awarded in 2009, this award recognizes early-career researchers for outstanding scientific research and contributions to the ornithological profession. The 2017 James G. Cooper Young Professional Awards are presented to Dr. Nancy Chen and Dr. Riccardo Ton.


Nancy Chen is currently an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Graham Coop at UC Davis and will be starting as an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester in July 2018. Before joining the Coop lab, Nancy was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a Ph.D. student with Andy Clark and John Fitzpatrick. Her research seeks to understand the genomic basis of contemporary evolution in natural populations by combining genomic data with long-term demographic and pedigree data. Nancy's dissertation research concentrated on elucidating the genomic consequences of declining population size and developing bioinformatics tools for analyzing next-generation sequencing data in non-model organisms. Nancy is also interested in promoting diversity in the sciences. She organizes a women in science discussion group at UC Davis and is one of the organizers of the symposium Birds of Different Feathers: Increasing Diversity in Ornithology to be held during this year’s meeting.



Riccardo Ton started his first ornithological experiments in the garden of his grandma in Italy at the age of 6. Later he explored the major migratory flyways in the alps north of Venice while getting his M.S. at the university of Padova. He finally received his Ph.D. in 2016 from the University of Montana working with Tom Martin. His research examined the effects of metabolism and temperature on embryonic development times and post-natal growth rates in temperate and tropical songbirds. His rooted passion for field biology took him to conduct his research in sites all over the world including U.S.A., Venezuela, Malaysia and South Africa. Riccardo is also actively involved in conservation projects that aim to restore the traditional rural habitats of his region that are quickly lost to urbanization and changes in agricultural practices. His work includes first-authored publications in Functional Ecology and Scientific Reports.

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