David Toews, assistant professor of biology at Penn State, has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Ned K. Johnson Early Investigator Award by the American Ornithological Society (AOS), an international society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of birds. The award recognizes outstanding and promising work by an ornithologist early in his or her career and who shows distinct promise for future leadership in the field. Awardees are invited to present a plenary talk at the society’s annual meeting.
In his research, Toews uses techniques from evolutionary biology, genomics, molecular ecology, biogeography, and animal behavior to understand how new species of birds come about. He studies New World warblers, wrens, and other birds to identify genes that may underlie important ecological traits, such as migration behavior and plumage, and to study the genetics and consequences of hybridization between bird species.
Toews has published more than 30 papers in scientific journals, including Current Biology, Ecology and Evolution, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, and The Auk: Ornithological Advances. He received an award for Paper of the Year from the Journal of Zoology in 2016. He is also a member of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which reviews and evaluates species status assessments.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in January 2019, Toews was a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where he held a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. He completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at Acadia University in 2005, and masters and doctoral degrees in zoology at the University of British Columbia in 2007 and 2014.