Plenary Session IV – 2021 Senior Speakers


The 2020 recipient of the Joseph Grinnell Award is Dr. Tad Theimer, Professor of Biological Sciences and Curator of the Museum of Vertebrates at Northern Arizona University.  Dr. Theimer has taught Mammalogy, Ornithology, and Wildlife Management for nearly two decades, and he occasionally offers a course in Vertebrate Museum Techniques as well. Tad has received numerous awards for his pedagogy, but these are matched by student appreciation.  His students describe him as an incredibly knowledgeable, caring and inspiring educator and mentor. One nominee noted that “when taking his classes it is difficult to make it over the long weekend until you can once again attend his lecture.”  Another wrote that Tad makes students “feel that you are the most important person in the room, that your success, not his, is what is important to him.” Tad has graduated 6 PhD students and 22 MS students, and currently supports 4 PhD and 2 MS students, and mentoring 5 undergraduates. He also serves on graduate committees for 12 additional PhD, and an astonishing 32 additional MS students. Tad also maintains a busy research program but relentlessly includes students in his efforts, generally giving them the opportunity to lead the authorship of papers; indeed, 80% of his publications at NAU have graduate or undergraduate co-authors, and students are the lead on most of these. When informed of this award, Tad referred to it as “a bolt out of the blue”, noting that “[i]t seems too fortunate to receive an award for doing something that I love to do”.  A broadly trained wildlife ecologist, he claims to have “been blessed with great graduate students, wonderful collaborators, remarkable research opportunities and the greatest gift: getting to share my passion for mammalogy with undergraduates whose open-eyed wonder and enthusiasm has stoked my fire for almost three decades. A teacher is only as good as their students, and mine have been the best anyone could ask for.  If I have any advice for folks just starting out in teaching, I would say, spend as much time thinking about HOW you are going to teach a particular lesson, and WHY you are teaching the material you are, as you do thinking about WHAT you are going to teach.” , and the ASM is proud to honor him with the 2020 Joseph Grinnell Award.


The recipient of the 2020 Aldo Leopold award is Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka of Conservation Through Public Health. Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka began her impressive career in conservation at a very early age: At age 25, she was appointed Chief Wildlife Veterinary Officer (the first person ever to occupy the job) for the Ugandan Wildlife Service. In this role, she oversaw wildlife translocations to replenish Uganda’s national parks after civil war had depleted them and led the move to use PPE to reduce the risk of disease transmission from humans to gorilla. She is now is firmly established as a respected and highly effective conservation professional. She runs a small but extremely operational NGO: Conservation Through Public Health. The group is crucial in securing the health and conservation of gorillas and other wildlife. This group recently launched a gorilla-friendly coffee certification program. She has trained scores of young Ugandans for conservation, and serves in a variety of Boards of Ugandan and international organizations. Her work, has been recognized by some of the greatest conservation organizations, including the Whitley Fund for Nature Gold Award, she is a National Geographic Explorer, the World Economic Forum recognized her as a Young Global Leader, and is the recipient of the Jane Goodall Institute Award for Conservation. She embodies what should be the ideal of every conservation professional out there: 1) producing top-of-the-line science and knowledge, 2) capacity building of new generations for conservation, 3) have a hands-on approach to implementation of her work.


Photo courtesy of JM Gailard

The 2020 recipient of the C. Hart Merriam Award is Dr. Jean-Michel Gaillard of Leon University. Dr. Gaillard earned his Ph.D. in 1988 from Lyon University in France. In 1990 he became a Junior Researcher at CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) at that same university. In recognition of his exceptional scholarship, Dr. Gaillard was awarded Bronze Medal from CNRS in 1993. He received his Habilitation (which allows him to supervise Ph.D. students) in 1994, and currently is a 1st Class Senior Researcher at the CNRS. Dr. Gaillard’s research lies at the interface of theory and application. He is known world-wide for research in four major areas of mammalogy, often integrating those sub-disciplines to achieve novel outcomes: 1) Life-history Theory (especially senescence and aging); 2) Behavioral Ecology; 3) Population Ecology; and 4) Management and Conservation. His approach often involves quantitative methods, at which he excels. Much of this research has been focused on ungulates, especially roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). His research is characterized by long-term field studies in which he uses mammals as models to answer important questions in biology. Dr. Gaillard has amassed ~400 scientific publications in high-quality journals; 123 of those papers were published from 2015 to the present. He has three publications with > 1,000 citations, and his papers have accumulated > 26,000 citations. Many of those publications have involved his 31 Ph.D. students. He has been involved in a tremendous number of editorial duties for various scientific journals, including being the Executive Editor for the Journal of Animal Ecology, and serving as Associate Editor for nine other journals. Dr. Gaillard also was the President of the Evolutionary Demography Society in 2018. He is among the most influential researchers in the fields of population ecology and demography of mammals, and his research has provided important theoretical underpinnings for those disciplines.