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Ohio Wesleyan University Students Earn Awards at National Ornithological Conference

May 4, 2009

DELAWARE, OH – Six Ohio Wesleyan University students were selected to present research posters at the 2009 joint scientific meeting of The Wilson Ornithological Society and the Association of Field Ornithologists in Pittsburgh. Two OWU students—senior Lauren A. Smith of Wadsworth, Ohio, and sophomore Kristen M. Lear of Cincinnati—received awards for outstanding presentations.

Smith’s presentation, “The Geography of Parrot Coloration,” resulted from a yearlong independent study with Ohio Wesleyan zoology professor Edward H. Burtt Jr., Ph.D. Smith studied how pigments in the differently colored parrot feathers slowed bacterial degradation. She is preparing two research papers for publication, including “Biology Letters,” an online, peer-reviewed journal. Smith is a zoology and English double major. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to study ornithology and to write about nature.

Lear’s presentation, “Netting Methods Influence Age Distribution in Samples of Cliff Swallows,” examined how different sampling methods affected age estimates of bird populations. Her research, conducted at the University of Tulsa, has implications in understanding the stability of bird populations and in making conservation decisions for endangered species. She is a zoology major and plans to attend graduate school to continue her zoology studies.

Also presenting research at the 2009 joint scientific meeting were:

  • Meredith S. Palmer and Rebecca A. Deatsman, “Inter- and Intraspecific Interactions Among Neotropical, Montane Hummingbirds at Feeders.” Palmer and Deatsman found that intraspecific competition among several species of hummingbirds was intense with less sharing and more aggressive interaction than expected. But aggression among species was less frequent and sharing of feeders was more frequent than expected by chance. Palmer, a sophomore from Cleveland, is a zoology major with a minor in chemistry. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in conservation biology. Deatsman, a senior from Tempe, Ariz., is a zoology and environmental studies double major. She plans to attend the University of Manitoba to earn her master’s degree in natural resource management.
  • Sean M. Williams, “Avian Diversity in Disturbed and Undisturbed Costa Rican Cloud Forest and Lowland Rainforest.” Williams’ research examined the impact on bird populations of converting Costa Rica’s virgin cloud and lowland rainforests to housing and farmland. A pre-professional zoology major from Boston, he anticipates a career as a museum curator or professor of biology, including research with birds.
  • Meredith P. Wilson, “Dynamics of Staphylococcus aureus on Bird Feathers.” Wilson’s research found that songbirds carried more of the potentially harmful bacteria in summer and early fall than in winter and early spring. Her work provides insight into the role of songbirds in dispersing the bacteria. A senior from Beavercreek, Ohio, Wilson is a zoology major with a minor in black world studies. After graduation, she anticipates a career spent researching animal behavior in Africa.

The Wilson Ornithological Society, founded in 1888, is a worldwide organization of people who share a curiosity about birds. Named in honor of Alexander Wilson, the Father of American Ornithology, the society publishes The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

The Association of Field Ornithologists, founded in 1922 as the New England Bird Banding Association, is one of the world’s major societies of professional and amateur ornithologists dedicated to the scientific study and dissemination of information about birds in their natural habitats. The association publishes the Journal of Field Ornithology.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 47 states and 50 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.