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C. Hart Merriam Award
In 1974, the American Society of Mammalogists established the C. Hart Merriam Award to honor outstanding contributions to mammalogy through research, teaching, and service (Journal of Mammalogy 55:694, 1974). In 1996, the Board of Directors amended these criteria so that the award is now given in recognition of outstanding research in mammalogy. Nominees are typically established scientists who are actively engaged in research and who have made significant contributions to the science of mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years. The recipient is invited to address the Society in a plenary session at its annual meeting, as well as to prepare a manuscript for publication in the Journal of Mammalogy that is based on this presentation.
Nominations for the Merriam Award will be considered without regard to national citizenship and activity in the Society. Click here to see previous awardees.
2022 C. Hart Merriam Award Recipient
The C. Hart Merriam Award is given to eminent scholars in recognition of outstanding research in mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years. C. Hart Merriam was the first chief of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy of the United States Department of Agriculture (the precursor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and a founding member of the American Ornithologists' Union, the National Geographic Society, and the American Society of Mammalogists; he served as the first President of the American Society of Mammalogists. Among numerous contributions to mammalogy and science, he developed the concept of "life zones" to classify biomes of North America. He is considered the father of mammalogy.
The 2022 recipient of the C. Hart Merriam award is Dr. Felisa Smith. Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Irvine and after a NSF postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. James Brown, joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico. She is currently a Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico, where she leads groundbreaking research on the ecology, biogeography, and conservation of extinct mammals. She has published 3 books and over 110 scientific papers, of which 20 were in Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science or the various Nature journals. Dr. Smith has made significant contributions in our understanding of extinct mammalian communities, including the forces that shape mammalian body size, extinction risk, and community diversity, among other topics.
Dr. Smith is currently the President-Elect of the American Society of Mammalogists, the President of the International Biogeography Society, and a Fellow of the Paleontological Society. She has mentored dozens of undergraduates, 7 postdocs and over 20 graduate students. She teaches well-received undergraduate and graduate courses in paleoecology, macroecology, and extinction, among others. She is a particular champion of women in science, and has published papers analyzing the changing roles of women in Mammalogy. She has served as a Subject Editor for Ecology, an Associate Editor for Paleobiology, and the Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, a term as a panel member for the US Fullbright Committee, and has served as a Board/Advisory Panel Member for the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Conservation Paleobiology Network, among many other professional contributions. Dr. Smith has been active in science communication; in addition to many dozens of television, radio and print interviews, for the past decade she has taught a popular writing/blogging class at UNM (http://unm-bioblog.blogspot.com). She continues to direct her active research program in mammalian paleoecology and to make significant contributions to the field of Mammalogy.
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C. Hart Merriam
C. Hart Merriam was an enthusiastic naturalist from an early age. In 1871, at 15 years old, he provided specimens of birds and mammals he had collected in upstate New York to the U.S. National Museum of Natural History. Director of the Museum, Spencer Fullerton Baird, saw Merriman’s promise as a natural historian, and in the following year, arranged for him to join Francis V. Hayden’s Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountains as the expedition’s naturalist.
In 1874, Merriam furthered his education by studying natural history and anatomy at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. He subsequently pursued an M.D. in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, receiving his degree in 1879. While in medical school, Merriam was a founding member of the Linnaean Society of New York and served as its first president. For the 6 years following his graduation, Merriam developed a successful medical practice in his home town of Locust Grove, New York, specializing in the diseases of women. His interest in birds and mammals, however, never waned, and Merriam spent increasing amounts of time studying mammals. In spring of 1883 the young doctor became the surgeon on the Newfoundland sealing vessel Proteus, where he collected numerous specimens for the U.S. National Museum. He became a founding member of the American Ornithologists’ Union in 1883, and later (1903) became a president of that society. He likewise was a founding member of the National Geographic Society (1888). Importantly, his two-volume publication on The Mammals of the Adirondack Region, Northeastern New York appeared in 1884.
At the age of 30, Merriam’s reputation for meticulous field studies and a vast knowledge of natural history lead to him becoming the first Chief of the newly established Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy in the United States Department of Agriculture in 1885. This was later to become the Bureau of Biological Survey, which he led for 25 years. That agency ultimately became the present-day U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the Department of Interior. In 1886, Merriam married his secretary, Virginia Elizabeth Gosnell, who became his life-long companion and often accompanied him during his field expeditions in the western United States. Merriam promoted his protégé, Vernon Bailey, to be the Chief Field Naturalist for the Biological Survey. Bailey was renowned for his field skills, and his collections of mammals played an important role in Merriam’s research. Following Merriman’s retirement from the Bureau in 1929, he studied the ethnography of Californian Native Americans. He died in Washington, DC, in 1942.
C. Hart Merriam is justifiably regarded as the father of mammalogy. He was a founding member of the American Society of Mammalogists and served as its first president (1919); he was elected to Honorary Membership in 1930, the highest honor the Society bestows. He amassed over 600 scientific publications, which helped shape the science of mammalogy, especially by improving methods of collection and research. He described 71 new species and 2 genera, and began the North American Fauna monographs. He developed the concept of "life zones" to classify the biomes of North America. His accomplishments were widely recognized. Merriam was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1902, and in 1931 received the Roosevelt Medal for distinguished work in biology from Interior Secretary James R. Garfield. It is fitting that the American Society of Mammalogists’ award for outstanding and sustained research is named in honor of C. Hart Merriam.
- Layne, J. N., and R. S. Hoffmann. 1994. Presidents. Pages 22–70 in E. C. Birney, and J. R. Choate, editors. Seventy-five years of Mammalogy (1919–1994). Special Publication No. 11, The American Society of Mammalogists.
- Osgood, W. H. 1943. Clinton Hart Merriam—1855–1942. Journal of Mammalogy 24:421–436.
- Osgood, W. H. 1944. Biographical memoir of Clinton Hart Merriam, 1855–1942. Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 24:1–57.
- Schmidly, D. J. 2016. Vernon Bailey (1864–1942): chief field naturalist of the Biological Survey. Pages 25–53 in Schmidly, D. J., W. E. Tydeman, and A. L. Gardner, editors. United States Biological Survey: a compendium of its history, personalities, impacts and conflicts. Special Publications Museum of Texas Tech University No. 64, Lubbock, Texas.
- Sterling, K. B. 2016. C. Hart Merriam: pioneering mammalogists. Pages 15–24 in Schmidly, D. J., W. E. Tydeman, and A. L. Gardner, editors. United States Biological Survey: a compendium of its history, personalities, impacts and conflicts. Special Publications Museum of Texas Tech University No. 64, Lubbock, Texas.
The American Society of Mammalogists is now accepting nominations for the C. Hart Merriam Award. The C. Hart Merriam Award is given to eminent scholars in recognition of outstanding research in mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years. C. Hart Merriam was the first chief of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy of the United States Department of Agriculture, and a founding member of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the National Geographic Society, and the American Society of Mammalogists. Among other contributions, he developed the concept of “life zones” to classify biomes found in North America. Nominations for the Merriam Award will be considered without regard to national citizenship or activity in the ASM.
Nominations should include a statement regarding adherence to the ASM Code of Professional Conduct. For example:
As a part of preparing this nomination, I have read and understood the American Society of Mammalogists' Code of Professional Conduct (here). To the best of my knowledge, the individual I am nominating exemplifies the high caliber of professional conduct that the ASM expects and promotes as required to be eligible for this award, as well as to retain this recognition should they be the award recipient.
Persons interested in nominating someone for the Merriam Award should send a packet containing a letter of nomination, a copy of the nominee’s CV, and 3-5 letters of nomination (all incorporated into a single PDF) via email to Denise Dearing (email@example.com) by 1 March with "Merriam Nomination" in the subject line. An email acknowledging receipt will be sent in 48 hrs..
C. HART MERRIAM AWARD for outstanding research contributions to the science of mammalogy
- 1976—James N. Layne, Archbold Biological Station, University of Florida, and Cornell University
- 1977—J. Knox Jones, Jr., Texas Tech University and University of Kansas
- 1978—James S. Findley, University of New Mexico
- 1979—Terry A. Vaughan, Northern Arizona University and Colorado State University
- 1980—Robert J. Baker, Texas Tech University
- 1981—John F. Eisenberg, University of Florida, National Zoological Park, University of Maryland, and University of British Columbia
- 1983—James L. Patton, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley
- 1985—Michael H. Smith, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and University of Georgia
- 1986—William Z. Lidicker, Jr., Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley
- 1987—Hugh H. Genoways, University of Nebraska State Museum, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and Texas Tech University
- 1988—Jerry R. Choate, Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University
- 1989—James H. Brown, University of New Mexico, University Arizona, University of Utah, and UCLA
- 1991—Timothy H. Clutton-Brock, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England
- 1992—Guy G. Musser, Department of Mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History
- 1993—Charles J. Krebs, University of British Columbia
- 1994—Gail R. Michener, University of Lethbridge
- 1995—M. Brock Fenton, York University
- 1996—Katherine Ralls, National Zoological Park
- 1997—Kenneth B. Armitage, University of Kansas
- 1998—Thomas H. Kunz, Boston University
- 1999—Carleton J. Phillips, Texas Tech University, Illinois State University, and Hofstra University
- 2000—Michael A. Mares, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, and University of Pittsburgh
- 2001—Theodore H. Fleming, University of Miami
- 2002—George O. Batzli, University of Illinois
- 2003—R. Terry Bowyer, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
- 2004—O. J. Reichman, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara
- 2005—Kay E. Holekamp, Michigan State University
- 2006—David Macdonald, Oxford University
- 2007—Robert S. Hoffmann, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution and University of Kansas
- 2008—Christopher Dickman, University of Sydney
- 2009—Richard Ostfeld, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
- 2010—Gerardo Ceballos, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México
- 2012—James Estes, University of California, Santa Cruz and USGS
- 2013—Rudy Boonstra, University of Toronto
- 2014—Denise Dearing, University of Utah
- 2015—Bruce Patterson, The Field Museum of Natural History
- 2016—Joel S. Brown, University of Illinois at Chicago
- 2017—Mark S. Boyce, University of Alberta
- 2018—Stan Boutin, University of Alberta
- 2019—Hopi E. Hoekstra, Harvard University