Office of Ombudsperson

About the Committee


History and Mission

One or more Ombudspersons are appointed by the President to hear and to respond appropriately to complaints of unprofessional behavior by any ASM member or registered participant at its annual meeting or in the governance of the ASM through its committee structure. Selection of appointees and duration of appointment are the prerogative of the President. Selection criteria emphasize the possession of common sense, sensitivity to gender and minority issues, discretion, seniority within the ASM, possession of the respect of the membership in general, and a willingness to serve. 

Creation of the Office of the Ombudsperson is intended to constitute a strong statement to the ASM’s commitment that all aspects of our Society operate in an inclusive, professional, transparent manner. The Ombudpersons are entrusted to deal with each situation as they best see fit following procedures indicated on the Office of the Ombudsperson webpage ( All issues brought before any of the appointed individuals will be resolved as discreetly as possible.

J. Mary Taylor Award

The J. Mary Taylor Award was developed collaboratively by the Human Diversity Committee and the ASM Office of the Ombudspersons, and honors our first female president, Dr. J. Mary Taylor (President 1982–1984). Mary’s leadership for the Society and the institutions she lead exemplifies our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and equity within the field of mammalogy. This award recognizes the impact of an individual or a team through contributions that promote and improve the accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity of our discipline or of our Society.

Mary Taylor (1931–2019) broke barriers throughout her career. She was a consummate mammalogist and deeply committed to both the ASM and to her students, graduate and undergraduate alike. She was noted for her sound fiscal planning and her groundbreaking research as a field and museum biologist. Among her positions, she served as Professor of Zoology and Director of the Cowan Vertebrate Museum at the University of British Columbia, Executive Director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Chairperson of the IUCN Rodent Specialist Committee, and Vice President of the Association of Science Museum Directors. We remember her fondly for her leadership, her “can do” personality, and friendship within the ASM. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was awarded Honorary Membership in 2001. For additional details on Mary’s life and accomplishments see Horner et al. (1996) and Woolley (In press).

Donate to the J. Mary Taylor Award here.

Submit nominations to the J. Mary Taylor Award here.

ASM's Statement of Inclusion

ASM's Statement of Professional Conduct

Report Alleged Misconduct

Course of Action for Alleged Misconduct



American Society of Mammalogists Code of Conduct

(Revised June 2023)

The ASM aims to operate in the best interest of the Society and its membership through its policies and procedures. Professional conduct is expected of all ASM members, of any individual representing the ASM, and of all participants in ASM-sponsored activities. We define professional conduct broadly to include respectful and ethical treatment of others.  The ASM is dedicated to ensuring the opportunity for active, equal participation in all ASM functions or sponsored activities by all members and participants, regardless of disability, sexual orientation, age, physical appearance, gender, race, national origin, or ethnicity. Discrimination and harassment are prohibited by the ASM; no individual should feel harassed, threatened, or unsafe at any ASM-sponsored activity. The full text of ASM’s Statement on Inclusion is available here. Concerns or allegations of misconduct or harassment should be directed the Office of the Ombudsperson (Erika Barthelmess, Jessica E. Light, Marjorie Matocq, or Morty Ortega ( or reported online here. Course of action for alleged misconduct may be found here. We note that ASM policies for professional conduct will evolve over time. The most recent version of these policies will be posted on the ASM Ombudspersons website and notifications of updates to the policy will be emailed to all ASM members. All ASM members and participants in ASM-sponsored activities are expected to follow the most recent version of ASM Professional Conduct policies.


Sexual Harassment 

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; such behavior debilitates morale and interferes with effective discourse, and therefore will not be tolerated. When unwelcome, behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; and unnecessary or inappropriate touching. Behavior that is acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another, so one must use discretion to ensure that words and actions communicate respect for others. This is especially important for those in positions of seniority, as those in more junior positions may be reluctant to express their objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior.


Harassment of any participant (attendee, speaker, volunteer, exhibitor, staff member, service provider, organizer, or meeting guest) will not be tolerated. Unacceptable behavior includes (but is not limited to) unwanted verbal attention, unwanted touching, intimidation, stalking, shaming, or bullying (to intimidate, humiliate, frighten, or threaten someone with abusive words or actions). Harassment presented in a joking manner is still harassment and constitutes unacceptable behavior. Retaliation for reporting harassment is also unacceptable, as is reporting an incident in bad faith.

General Guidelines

  1. Unprofessional conduct by any ASM member or meeting attendant will not be tolerated and is subject to disciplinary action. Unacceptable behavior includes, but is not limited to: unwanted verbal attention, unwanted touching, intimidation, stalking, shaming or bullying in person or through social media outlets (see additional definitions above), or other disruptive behavior including sustained disruption of talks, events, or meetings. If you experience such behavior, depending on the context and if you feel comfortable, you should let the offender know and tell them to stop and/or seek help from bystanders. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Concerns may also be presented to the Ombudspersons in person (Erika Barthelmess, Jessica E. Light, I. Morty Ortega (, Marjorie Matocq or reported online here. Note that persistent offensive or unwelcome behavior may constitute harassment and that harassment presented in a joking manner is still harassment. Both persistent offensive or unwelcome behavior are subject to disciplinary action within the Society.
  2. In all professional activities, ASM members will adhere to ethical standards in the responsible conduct of scientific research and dissemination of results, and in training and education. This includes adhering to all applicable professional standards, laws, regulations, policies and requirements of governmental authorities, funders, and contracts, and adhering to community standards and journal policies regarding grant reviews, authorship, attribution, data availability, the disclosure and resolution or approved management of actual or potential conflicts-of-interest, and service as editor or reviewer.
  3. Scientific presentations are expected to adhere to ASM standards of professional conduct and should not include inappropriate and/or graphic images or language that include (but are not limited to) pornography, demeaning or degrading images or language, or gratuitous depictions of violence.
  4. Established professionals and all ASM leaders should recognize that they hold positions of power, formal or informal, over students and aspiring professionals. These individuals are expected to lead by example regarding our high standards of professional and personal conduct.
  5. All ASM members are potential bystanders to unprofessional or unwelcome behavior. Bystander intervention can prevent, divert, or mitigate harassment. Do not look the other way. See the Resources page for additional information about bystander intervention and training.



Guidelines for ASM Committees

Before any official ASM business of committees, leadership, Board of Directors, whoever is chairing the meeting should verbally remind all those in attendance that they agree to abide by the ASM Code of Conduct (a copy of the Code of Conduct should be made available, and everyone should verbally agree).

For those committees that give awards, grants, honoraria, and fellowships, they should sign additional agreements as follows:

These guidelines are provided in order to ensure the highest professional ethical standards in the review of applications for research funding or other awards. ASM is committed to supporting our research and training community while protecting an applicant’s ideas and intellectual property. 

  1. Conflict of Interest. I understand that all conflicts of interest need to be identified to the Chair of the Committee. Ideally, such conflicts will be evident before review of an application begins (e.g. based on name of applicant or advisor, institution affiliation, title of project), but should be declared even if only discovered during the review process.  The Committee Chair will decide on how conflicts of interest are to be addressed.
  2. Confidentiality: Applicants. I understand that applications, their content, and the identity of applicants and advisors is confidential. I will not share or use ideas contained in a proposal for my own benefit or that of others.
  3. Confidentiality: Colleagues. I understand that all deliberations, opinions and positions stated by my colleagues during review are confidential. Likewise, my role as a reviewer for a particular application should not be shared with the applicant, advisor, work supervisor, or others outside the committee.
  4. Confidentiality: Materials. I will dispose of all application materials and associated notes (digital and hard copy) after the committee’s decisions are complete.



Reporting Incidents of Potential Misconduct

The President appoints one or more Society members to the Office of Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson(s) are charged with reviewing and adjudicating allegations of misconduct occurring within the context of Society events or Society sponsored activities, in an effort to seek the truth as a neutral designee. Incidents occurring ‘off-site’ (e.g., bars, hotels, etc.) between members or meeting participants are considered to be part of the broader Society gathering and as such are subject to the ASM Code of Conduct and ASM disciplinary action; a valid complaint can be made even if the incident does not happen at the conference center or meeting venue. Incidents involving non-ASM participants generally fall outside the purview of the ASM Code of Conduct and ASM disciplinary action, but may result in restrictions to participation in ASM activities or events pending investigation.

Concerns and complaints of misconduct can be presented to an Ombudsperson, to any ASM officer, or reported online here. Before action can be taken by the Office of the Ombudsperson, allegations must be presented in writing to an Ombudsperson or reported online by the victim or an observer of alleged misconduct occurring within the context of Society events or Society sponsored activities. Individuals may submit anonymous reports to the Ombudsperson(s) online. Note that while we will keep track of anonymous reports, we cannot take action on a single anonymous report without further corroboration. All reports will be taken seriously and will be investigated. Retaliation for reporting of harassment is unacceptable, as is reporting an incident in bad faith; both may be treated as harassment and subject to investigation by the Ombudsperson(s).

Review of Incidents

After receiving a misconduct report, the Ombudsperson(s) will review all materials and obtain additional information, if warranted. Depending on the misconduct, the Ombudsperson(s) may advise reporting to local law enforcement. For other cases, the Ombudsperson(s) may discuss the incident with the accuser(s) (assuming they are not anonymous) and the alleged offender(s). Further investigatory steps may include – but are not limited to – interviewing persons named as witnesses as well as reviewing documents and other evidence supporting the complaint and/or justifying the alleged offensive behavior. Throughout this process, confidentiality will be honored to the extent possible and as necessary so as to respect the accuser(s) and to avoid impeding the ongoing operation of the Society, unless disclosure is legally required.

After review of all materials, if the Office of Ombudsperson determine that misconduct occurred and should be subject to disciplinary action, the Ombudsperson(s) shall communicate the charge(s) of misconduct to the alleged offender(s) and inform the alleged offender(s) as to the availability for review of summaries of incidents and evidence supporting the charge(s). The alleged offender(s) will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations. These steps will be completed prior to the Ombudspersons deciding on an appropriate course of disciplinary action.

Decisions and Disciplinary Action

After review of the complaint and of evidence and interviews of witnesses, and after hearing the positions of the accuser(s) and the alleged offender(s), the Ombudspersons will determine whether misconduct occurred. Ombudspersons may confer with select ASM officers if deemed necessary (while honoring confidentiality to the extent possible). If the Ombudspersons determine that no misconduct occurred, that disciplinary action is not required, or if they cannot agree that misconduct occurred (even with input from ASM officers), the accuser(s) and alleged offender(s) will be informed of this decision and no further action will be taken. Decisions will be made as quickly as possible; timelines will vary with each case.

If the Ombudsperson(s) determine that misconduct has occurred, they will recommend disciplinary measures using the criteria described below. Disciplinary measures will be commensurate with the offense(s). As noted below, egregious and illegal actions may justify an immediate lifetime ban from all future meetings and revocation of membership, past awards and honors, and future recognition (to include automatic disqualification for any future awards, honorary membership, etc.). In less egregious activities, disciplinary actions may include notification of improper behavior, recommendations to take relevant training or counseling, or suspension from ASM-sponsored events for some period of time. For other actions, the Office of the Ombudspersons will employ a three-step process to recommend appropriate disciplinary measures:

  1. At the first instance of misconduct, the offender(s) will be notified of unacceptable behavior, reminded of the ASM Statement of Inclusion and expectations regarding Professional Conduct, and encouraged to consider relevant training or counseling.
  2. If misconduct is repeated at a subsequent Society event or Society sponsored activity, the Ombudspersons will recommend a suspension of participation from all Society events for a specified period of time, after which the offender may resume participation. During this suspension, individuals may not receive any ASM awards or honors or serve in leadership positions. After the period of suspension, the banned individual may request permission from the Society President and Office of the Ombudspersons to return to ASM meetings and be eligible to receive awards. This request must include a letter addressed to the ASM President asking to return to meetings, participate in Society governance, and be eligible for awards; this letter should include a statement affirming that no additional ethical, personal, or professional misconduct has occurred during the time period of the ban. Additional requirements may be imposed as determined by the Society President in consultation with the Office of the Ombudsperson.
  3. If misconduct is repeated a third time, subsequent disciplinary action may include a lifetime ban from all future meetings and revocation of membership, awards, and honors, and disqualification for any future awards and honors.

The Office of the Ombudsperson reserves the right to bypass the first and/or second step listed above and move directly to a subsequent step if warranted by the offense and/or past history of the accused.

The Society President will review the recommendation of the Ombudsperson(s), including all supporting documentation. If there is disagreement regarding the recommendations, the Society President and the Ombudsperson(s) will work together to revise the recommendations. Once a recommendation has been determined, the Society President will notify the accuser(s) and the offender(s) of the disciplinary measures. If the disciplinary measures include revocation of awards, honors, or membership, the decision must be ratified by a three-fourths vote of the Board of Directors (based on the number of submitted votes).

The disciplinary measures may be appealed to an ad hoc committee comprised of the five most recent ASM Presidents within 60 days following notification of the decision by the Society President. Thereafter, this ad hoc committee shall review the evidence and the evaluation of the Ombudsperson(s), and may confer with current Officers of the Society to determine whether to affirm, alter, or reverse the disciplinary measures. The ad hoc committee’s decision shall be final and not subject to appeal.

Misconduct Occurring Outside of ASM and ASM Meetings

All ASM members are expected to adhere to high standards of ethical conduct in their professional and personal lives. Professional or personal misconduct occurring outside of the activities of ASM may be considered when evaluating nominees for awards, honorary membership, and other forms of recognition by the society. These instances of misconduct may also be subjected to disciplinary action. The Society reserves the right to temporarily limit access to ASM-sponsored events in light of verifiable evidence of misconduct that raises concerns about the safety of events or attendees. Temporary suspensions may be applied while a case is being investigated.

Procedures Involving Officers, Directors, and Ombudspersons

Officers, Directors, or Ombudspersons shall recuse themselves from cases in which they have potential conflicts of interest. In the event that the Society President is accused of misconduct or has a conflict of interest, the Presidential duties described above will be allocated to the President-elect. If the President-elect has a conflict of interest, duties shall shift to the Vice President. If the Vice President has a conflict of interest, duties will shift to the remaining Officers. Measures for removal from elected office are described in the Bylaws should disciplinary action be required for any officer of the Society.

Statement on Liability

ASM shall not be responsible for any defamatory, offensive, or illegal conduct of participants of ASM-sponsored activities, and shall not be held liable for personal injury, property damage, theft, or damage of any kind suffered by the participants at or in connection with ASM-sponsored activities. By registering for and attending ASM-sponsored activities such as the annual meeting, participants acknowledge that they have read this Disclaimer, and expressly releases the ASM and its board members, directors, officers, employees, or agents from any and all liability in connection with such ASM-sponsored activities as provided herein.

A pdf version of the Code of Conduct is here.


Resources are available for guidance and education on professional conduct. These include Title IX resources both within and outside academia; read these pages carefully and click links for additional information. Most universities and places of employment also offer sexual harassment and sexual violence training (in person training or online). We also strongly recommend Bystander Intervention training, which is becoming common among universities and in society. Finally, always feel free to contact your Ombudspersons for further assistance.

Recommended Resources

We note that many of these links are focused on harassment and assault. However, we also believe these links could be useful for other types of nonprofessional behavior.

Society/Academic Links

American Association of University Professors Statement on Professional Ethics (

AAAS Code of Conduct (

American Astronomical Society (

American Geophysical Union (

Entomological Association of America (

Evolution and the SAFE EVOLUTION program (

Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (

The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology (

Blog Posts

Guest post: The day I broke some twitter feeds: Insights into sexism in academia Part I and Part II (links:

Emerging Solutions for Domestic Violence (via Sunshine Behavioral Health)

Bystander Intervention Links

Although the below links are focused on harassment and assault, Bystander Intervention training could be useful for any type of nonprofessional behavior.

What Is Bystander Intervention, Anyway? (link:

Your Role in Preventing Sexual Assault (link:

Stepping Up to Stop Sexual Assault (link:

This is Why Every College is Talking About Bystander Intervention (link:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center (link:

StepUp (link:

Ten Free Resources on Bystander Intervention (link:

Helpful Reading

Anbar, A. 2018. Improving societies’ harassment policies. Science 361: 984-985. 0.1126/science.aav1362

Clancy, K.B.H., R. Nelson, J.N. Rutherford, and K. Hinde. 2014. Survey of academic field experiences (SAFE): trainees report harassment and assault. PLoS One 9(7): e102172

Hamburg, H., S. Hockfield. And S. Chu. 2018. Address harassment now. Science 361: 1167

Mourad, T.M., A.F. McNulty, D. Liwosz, K. Tice, F. Abbott, G.W. Williams, and J.A. Reynolds. 2018. The role of a professional society in broadening participating in science: a national model for increasing persistence. BioScience 68: 715-721.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Science Foundation statements and policies on sexual harassment:

Nelson, R.G., J.N. Rutherford, K. Hinde, and K.B.H. Clancy. 2017. Signaling safety: characterizing fieldwork experiences and their implications for career trajectories. American Anthropologist 119(4): 710-722.

Selin, N.E. 2018. Call for new AAAS harassment policy. Science 361: 984

Persistent Sexual Harassment is a Primary Reason Women Leave STEM (link:

There is No Moral Relativity in Sexual Harassment (link:

A pdf version of the Code of Conduct is here.


J. Mary Taylor Award

The application period opens 15 January with a submission deadline of 1 March at 11:59 PM (EST). 

Eligibility & Selection Criteria:

  • Nominee(s) must be active ASM members in good standing, and must adhere to the ASM Code of Conduct.
  • Nominations must come from an ASM member in good standing; self-nominations are acceptable.
  • Nominees may be individuals or teams, and may be at any career stage or level of experience.
  • Individuals may only receive the award one time.
  • Awards will be given only in years when compelling and suitable nominations are available.

Application Requirements:

  • Name and contact details of the nominator(s).
  • Name and contact details of the nominee(s).
  • A current CV for an individual nominee. If a team is being nominated a one-page resume per each individual in the team and a CV for the leader of the team.
  • A supporting statement (<4,000 characters for individuals or teams, not including spaces) that addresses the award criteria:
  1. An introduction to the nominee or team that describes the area or business in which they work and their role(s) within the organization.
  2. A description of the contributions of the individual or team, and evidence of their impact within research, academic, and outreach communities served by the Society.
  3. One or two sentences of <250 characters (not including spaces) that succinctly describes the nominees laudatory contribution to diversity and inclusion within mammalogy (to be posted on the ASM website).

To Apply

Submit your nomination here. Nominations are due March 15.