This year, the Cooper Ornithological Society's prestigious Miller Award for lifetime achievement in ornithological research was presented to Dr. Ellen Ketterson, Distinguished Professor of Biology at Indiana University.
Loye Holmes Miller and his son, Alden, left a remarkable legacy to the field of ornithology and to the Cooper Ornithological Society. Altogether, they sponsored 30 Ph.D. students, 28 in avian biology, and their students in turn trained a total of 166. Alden also made contributions to the society and ornithology as a long-standing editor of The Condor.
Ellen Ketterson, like the Millers, has mentored many highly productive doctoral and postdoctoral students in the study of avian biology—and she continues to do so today. While those affiliated with her lab appreciate that natural selection shapes organisms as integrated sets of traits, they recognize that we have much to learn about how these sets of traits can be assembled and disassembled in response to selection. Indeed, a key focus of her internationally recognized, hugely successful research program is to understand the ways in which hormones mediate phenotypes both in the field and in the laboratory. The star of much of the work in the Ketterson lab is the Dark-eyed Junco, which also starred in a feature-length film recently produced by Ellen and former student Jonathan Atwell, entitled Ordinary Extraordinary Junco: Remarkable Biology from a Backyard Bird! The film entertains, educates, and inspires both public and student audiences.
When told of the Award, Ellen shared some personal thoughts: “Alden Miller has been a hero ever since Val [Nolan] spoke of his extraordinary abilities as an editor, something we both know that Val valued very highly. And as I have been drawing together chapters for a book I am editing on the junco, I have had a chance to read about Alden Miller and his wife and his father and to appreciate their many contributions to ornithology and evolutionary biology. So an award in their names is especially pleasing for me and I hope for all the people who study juncos.”
Miller Award winner (2014) Ellen Ketterson.