Marsh Award for Ornithology

This Award is run in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and is awarded to an ornithologist who is making a significant contribution to the field.

Amongst other things, the Award considers the significance of research undertaken, contributions to training and capacity building within ornithology, alignment with the BTO’s mission, and engagement with the wider ornithological community.

Nominations are judged by an independent panel of experts who consider each application against agreed judging criteria.

Dr Alex Bond 2022

Alex is currently curator in charge of birds at the Natural History Museum, and he has previously worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and in academia in Canada. Alex’s career has focused on the conversation of seabirds which has taken him all over the world, focusing particularly on the pressures facing vulnerable seabird populations on remote islands. In recent years he has played a key role in highlighting the impact of marine plastics on seabird populations and his work draw attention to the significant amounts of plastic in their stomachs. Building on his experiences, Alex has been working with colleagues from the University of Highlands and Islands Environmental Research Institute to now investigate the impact of plastic population on UK seabirds. Alex is an excellent communicator, and he has published widely in scientific literature, and achieved international media attention for several of his papers. Alex acts as an ornithologist in residence at St. Nicholas Church in Leicester where he shares information about birds and his research with the congregation and wider community. Alex has supported a number of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers through schemes such as Marie Curie Fellowships. Over the course of his career, he has been a tireless advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion. This has included highlighting the negative impact that unpaid internships can have on the wider conservation community and considering the importance of ensuring that figures appearing in the published literature are colour-blind friendly to maximise accessibility.

Previous Winners

Dr Alison Johnston

Alison is an ecological statistician who has made significant advances in the field of ornithology, applying and developing techniques to a rage of datasets to further public understanding of the avian world. Alison completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge and soon after joined the BTO’s staff as the Trust’s Ecological Statistician. She worked at the BTO for 8 years and led or co-authored dozens of peer reviewed papers. Alison has pioneered new approaches to analysing the datasets generated by BTO-led schemes and surveys. She has made important contributions to understanding the impacts of climate change and land use on birds and has applied innovative statistical approaches to analysing birds at sea. She was an influential and well-liked participant in several BTO collaborations and plays an important role in research and organising training. Her publication output has only accelerated, leading to a number of invitations for key and plenary talks at international conferences, and further noteworthy collaborations. Alison continues to be a fantastic ambassador for women in science and has sat on discussion panels and published popular articles, blogs and peer reviewed papers. She is an outstanding scientist leading innovative work on harnessing the value of citizen scientists in understanding and conserving the natural world.

Dr Jennifer Smart

Jennifer is a scientist from the RSPB and has become a leading voice in the world of breeding wader conservation over the last 15 years, with her research during her first PhD playing a seminal role in defining the most successful conservation strategies. Many of her research findings have informed today’s management of some of the largest breeding wader populations in lowland areas of the UK. Jen has recently been examining how predation impacts ground-nesting birds in the UK, with her hands-on experience of management strategies have been instrumental in effectively communicating her research. She played a key role in setting up the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science, which has been critical in providing a coordinated and central voice for the organisation’s fantastic scientific research. She also sees developing the next generation of conservation scientists as a vitally important role, and as such has supervised and mentored a range of students and staff and she is an exemplary and inspirational role model for young women in science. She was recently successful in landing the role of Head of Species for England for the RSPB. 


Watch the Awards Presentation:

Dan Chamberlain

Dan Chamberlain is an Assistant Professor at the University of Turin where, for the last decade, he has been researching the impacts of climate and other environmental change on alpine biodiversity including birds and beetles. Prior to this Dan was Principal Ecologist for Climate Change and Head of the Population Ecology and Modelling Team at the British Trust for Ornithology.

He has produced an impressive body of scientific work during 22 years of post-doctoral research experience looking at the ecology of birds in highly modified environments such as agriculture and urban. Dan’s work on the historical impacts of farming practices have been ground-breaking and have had profound impact for the targeting and monitoring the effectiveness of agri-environment incentive measures. His publishing record is outstanding including having one of the most important Journal for Applied Ecology papers in the voted top 100. Alongside this, Dan is also an editor of the BOU journal Ibis.

Dr Juliet Vickery

Dr Juliet Vickery has been at the forefront of ornithological science, conservation and communication for over two decades, and has made huge contributions in all these areas. Juliet’s research has always focussed on key issues in bird conservation; from her PhD on the influence of acid rain on dipper populations, post-doctoral studies of conflicts between geese and agriculture, positions at the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Natural Heritage, BTO and RSPB addressing a range of issues, particularly farmland and migrant bird declines.

In her current position as Head of International Research at RSPB, Juliet manages a team of scientists operating throughout the world to address impacts of land use change, deforestation and much more. Juliet has exceptional skills in identifying important issues, understanding the policy landscape in which such issues must be addressed, and enthusing and inspiring her staff, colleagues and collaborators to find effective solutions to complex conservation problems. The impact of her work can be seen in freshwater, farmland, woodland and island systems in the UK and beyond. Prior to her post at RSPB, Juliet was a Research Ecologist at BTO, leading the research programme on farmland birds and agri-environment schemes.

Juliet has published over 100 papers and book chapters and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. She has also Chaired the Policy Committee of the British Ecological Society and served as Chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee and Vice-President of the British Ornithologists’ Union. Juliet has inspired ornithologists across the world, through her supervision of large numbers of students and staff, her clear vision, her exceptional communication skills and her tireless passion for bird conservation.

Dr Becki Lawson

Dr Becki Lawson is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, leading work on disease effects on free-ranging wildlife populations, with a particular interest on those relating to wild birds. She has been instrumental in driving work on trichomonosis in British finches and its role on population declines, on avian pox in British tit species, and on emerging diseases in garden wildlife.

Becki is also project coordinator for the Garden Bird Health Initiative and for Garden Wildlife Health where she has secured partnerships working across a range of projects with organisations such as the BTO and the RSPB, as well as commercial companies, veterinary researchers and academics. She has also secured international collaborations around wildlife disease and broader interdisciplinary working.

Becki recognises and champions the role of citizen science in collecting data on wildlife disease and the value of the BTO’s long-term data sets. She has been a strong advocate, communicating the impact of disease on wild populations across many different audiences, stimulating new research projects and partnerships.

Professor Will Cresswell

Will Cresswell is Professor at the School of Biology at St Andrew’s University where he researches the behavioural and conservation ecology of birds. He has strong links with BTO: his work on predation ecology has aided the interpretation of the long-term patterns seen in BTO monitoring data and his work on migrant birds merges well with BTO work on migrant birds wintering in Africa.

Will has been an Editorial Board member of Bird Study (BTO’s publication) since 2001, a Council Member of the BTO from 2002 to 2005 and Editor of Bird Study from 2012 to 2015. Under his editorship, Bird Study made significant progress as a journal and largely increased its impact factor in the field.

Will is also a Trustee for the APLORI Foundation, helping to develop ornithological and conservation skills within West Africa. He is a regular speaker at international conferences and received the first BOU ‘Ibis’ Award in 2003 in recognition of his outstanding ornithological research.

Dr Stuart Butchart

Dr Stuart Butchart is Head of Science at BirdLife International, where he has led conservation projects with 117 partners, developed collaborations with other NGOs (including the BTO) and Universities and worked extensively on the analysis of bird data. Stuart has worked to assess the impact of climate change on the world’s birds and on Important Bird Areas, and his results have had a significant impact on global conservation science.

Stuart has an impressive publication record, with over 100 published scientific papers; this includes leading on a critically important Science paper documenting the failure of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to reduce global biodiversity loss, and also a series of papers assessing the conservation status of the world’s birds, and the use of red lists for conservation prioritisation.

Stuart chairs the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Technical Working Group on behalf of IUCN, and sits on the IUCN Climate Change Special Interest Group. In brief, he is arguably one of the world’s pre-eminent bird conservationists with an incredible knowledge of scientific and conservation issues, as well as of individual bird species.

Francis Daunt

Francis Daunt leads the seabird research programme at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh and his research is proving to be essential in our understanding of what factors have affected seabird populations and how these can be managed.

Francis Daunt has been leading a key study at the Isle of May on five species of seabirds. The study has allowed the team to determine relationships between environmental conditions, food availability, demography and populations numbers, and is providing the basis of studying a wide range of aspects of sea ecology. The team has published important research finding on reproductive output, fisheries managements, the effects of weather on survival, and population movements during the non-breeding season. The work has proved to be of great relevance in the light of the development of marine renewables and the establishment of Marine Protected areas.

Dr Jane Reid

Dr Jane Reid is an outstanding ornithologist who has contributed hugely to the field through her high quality research, her dynamic approach to addressing important scientific issues and her deep commitment to developing young researchers and engaging a wide range of audiences. She is currently Director at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust, and an associate editor of ‘Journal of Animal Ecology.’

Jane joined Aberdeen University in 2006, where she has contributed greatly to the development of one of the most dynamic research groups in the UK and to the development of a series of excellent young ornithologists. She has worked closely with volunteer groups, academic colleagues and conservation agencies to understand the demographic causes of population change amongst various species of birds and has helped focus conservation interventions in areas where they can be most effective.

Janes’ work has had a number of significant impacts. For example, her recent collaboration with Grampian Ringing Group and RSPB has vastly improved our understanding of the causes of the long-term population decline of ring ouzel populations in the UK.

Jane is also an active ringer and trainer and has encouraged and inspired young people to become involved with ringing and other aspects of ornithology. As a member of the editorial board of ‘Ringing and Migration’, Jane invests much time and thought into encouraging BTO volunteers to publish their work.

Jeremy Wilson

Jeremy Wilson is Head of Research at RSPB Scotland and is an outstanding researcher and science communicator. His career has been dedicated to understanding the mechanisms through which agricultural intensification has caused declines in bird populations.

Jeremy has studied the response of individual species such as the Skylark, Yellowhammer and Linnet to agriculture, the effects of agricultural processes, such as the use of pesticides and GMHT crops, and agricultural systems such as biodiversity responses to organic farming. He has published well over 100 peer reviewed papers, made contributions to more than 15 book chapters and countless scientific reports, and supervised 11 PhD studentships.

Jeremy has sat on a great many groups to advise Government on biodiversity, including the Scottish Biodiversity Forum Biodiversity Science Group and the Scottish Government Rural Environment, while he was Chair of the Indicators Working Group for the Scottish Biodiversity Forum.

As well as developing and leading all this science, Jeremy is a long-term dedicated volunteer bird recorder and active bird ringer with Lothian Ringing Group, spending a large part of his personal time contributing to bird monitoring activities and encouraging others to get involved. He has been an unwavering ambassador for the long-term monitoring of birds, and a supporter of BTO-led monitoring programmes. He previously sat on the BTO Ringing Committee and on SOC Council, and was on the editorial board of Ringing and Migration and Bird Study. Jeremy is actively involved with Butterfly Conservation, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Isle of May Observatory Trust.


Ian Hartley

Ian Hartley has made an outstanding contribution to ornithology through his research activities, his training of young researchers and his commitment to the development of ornithology as a fascinating and engaging discipline. Ian is a behavioural ecologist who has developed his deep knowledge of birds into a series of highly fruitful study systems. His interests focus around within-species interactions and he has explored these issues in a broad range of species. His research spans theoretical and empirical approaches and his studies frequently involve elegantly designed field experiments constructed from a thorough understanding of natural history.

Ian has published more than 40 papers to date, including several high impact publications and important reviews. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University, where he teaches at undergraduate and Masters Level, as well as supervising PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

Ian has been a highly sought-after and effective member of committees and editorial teams for several years. He served as Editor of Ringing and Migration from 2001-2005, as Associate Editor for Ibis since 2002 and currently chairs the Ibis committee of the British Ornithologists’ Union, which oversees the management and development of the journal Ibis. Ian is also currently a member of Ringing Committee and the Council of the British Trust for Ornithology and of the Council of the British Ornithologists’ Union.

Dr Jennifer Gill

Dr Jennifer Gill has made an important contribution to the development of young ornithologists through her work with MSc and PhD students. Many ornithologists who have been trained by her now work for the BTO and the RSPB and at universities in the UK and abroad. She is currently collaborating with the BTO in three PhD projects related to how environmental changes impinge upon birds.

Jennifer is probably best known, within ornithological circles, for her studies of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits, thousands of which spend the winter here in East Anglia. Hundreds of birdwatchers across Europe are involved with the godwit research by reporting sightings of colour-ringed birds.