A Jolly Good ‘Fellow’

OWU professor Jed Burtt elected to International Ornithologists’ Union

Jed Burtt. (Photo by Pam Burtt)

Stick a feather in his cap and call him a fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union.

Ohio Wesleyan University zoology professor Jed Burtt, Ph.D., learned this week that he had been elected a fellow of the prestigious organization dedicated to supporting, promoting, and advancing avian biology around the world.

Burtt, a member of the Ohio Wesleyan faculty since 1977, learned of his election in a letter from Franz Bairlein, Ph.D., president of the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU).

“Your election was based on the nomination and recommendation of the Executive Committee of the IOU, on the excellence of your scientific work, and on your involvement in promoting ornithology,” wrote Bairlein, a professor at the Institute of Avian Research in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Burtt was nominated by John C. Wingfield, Ph.D., past-president of the IOU and a professor at the University of California-Davis.

As a fellow, Burtt becomes a member of the organization’s Committee of Representatives, which serves as the governing body of the IOU and the representational assembly of all IOU members. The committee also helps to plan the organization’s international meetings, held every four years in a different area of the world. Burtt has attended six of the last seven meetings and co-chaired symposia at the 2006 meeting in Germany and the 2002 meeting in China.

Burtt calls his appointment as a fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union “exciting and humbling.”

“It’s an honor,” Burtt says, joking that his lab may break out “champagne” (or a non-alcoholic equivalent) to celebrate. “It’s an honor to be recognized by my international colleagues for my research and commitment to ornithology.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Burtt’s research into the microbiology of feathers has led to the discovery of feather-degrading bacteria on wild birds, new insights into the evolution of avian coloration and the evolution of sexual signals, and patents on a process to break up feather-waste from the poultry industry.

His most recent research, “Colourful Parrot Feathers Resist Bacterial Degradation,” recently was published in Biology Letters, a peer-reviewed journal published by the British Royal Society in London. The research was conducted with 2009 OWU alumni Max R. Schroeder, Lauren Smith, and Jenna Sroka, and with Kevin McGraw, Ph.D., of Arizona State University. The article was excerpted by Nature, the world’s foremost scientific magazine, as part of its page on current news in science.

Learn more about the International Ornithologists’ Union.

See the Nature excerpt.

Congratulations, Jed, on your latest honor!

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