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Van Remsen named recipient of Brewster Award

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J. Van Remsen


The William Brewster Award is given annually to the author or co-authors of an exceptional body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere. The award consists of a medal and an honorarium provided through the endowed William Brewster Memorial Fund of the American Ornithologists' Union. The award is in honor of William Brewster, one of the founding members of the AOU.



By virtue of a lifelong dedication to research, teaching, and service to Neotropical ornithology, this year’s Brewster Medal awardee is Prof. Van Remsen.  Van is the world’s premier authority on Neotropical ornithology. He started his Neotropical bird career early in life as a kid growing up in the Denver area.  He went on to finish an undergrad degree at Stanford and continued on with his Ph.D. work at UC Berkeley on kingfishers from Colombia and Bolivia. From there he moved to LSU and has never looked back.



His classic--papers on Neotropical birds include:



  • Remsen (1984) on leapfrog evolutionary patterns in the Andes


  • Remsen and Robinson (1988) on a classification scheme for foraging behavior in birds


  • Remsen and Parker (1983) on the contribution of river-habitats to species richness in South America.



16 of 18 Ph.D., and 12 of 15 M.S. students have written theses on Neotropical birds. His former students are now curators in a remarkably large proportion of American museums, and even a few museums in South America.



Finally, Van’s decades of service to the AOU Checklist Committee and the South American Classification Committee have culminated in four major recent works that have facilitated the study of Neotropical birds tremendously:


·      4,000 species accounts for the Howard & Moore checklist (Dickinson (ed.). 2003).


·      236 species accounts on furnariids in the Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol. X (Remsen 2003).



·      The AOU’s online classification of South American birds (Remsen et al. 2013).


·      The up-coming 4th (and hugely expanded) edition of the Howard & Moore checklist (Dickinson and Jr. 2013). The non-passerine volume is now in press.



It is for this dedication to teaching and research and providing vital infrastructure for the ornithological community for the study of birds in the Neotropics that the American Ornithologists’ Union awards this years’ William Brewster Medal to Van Remsen.





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