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Center Happenings

Galapagos bird expert Patty Parker honored with Brewster Medal

On August 16, 2016 the American Ornithologists’ Union recognized Dr. Patricia Parker, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor in Zoological Studies and senior scientist of Saint Louis Zoo, with the 2016 William Brewster Memorial Award.  Learn more on UMSL Daily.

American Society of Plant Taxonomists honors botanist Peter Stevens with Asa Gray Award

Presented on August 2, 2016 at the garden by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Asa Gray Award honors Dr. Peter Stevens’ own chronicling of flora, particularly through his Angiosperm Phylogeny Website.  Read all about it on UMSL Daily.

On November 12, 2014, Dr. Patricia Parker accepted the 2014 Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award at the 23rd Annual Marlin Perkins Society Celebration, held at the Ritz-Carlton in Saint Louis.

Dr. Patty Parker acceptance speech

From the event program:

Patricia Parker, Ph.D.

Patty Parker was born in Dallas, Texas and spent her childhood exploring nature in Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina. She went to college at University of North Carolina, then travelled in Europe for three years before coming back and entering the Ph.D. program UNC - Chapel Hill. 

After receiving her Ph.D. in Behavioral Ecology, Patty did postdoctoral work at Purdue University where she learned genetic techniques. She took her first faculty job at Ohio State University and was promoted and tenured there. During those years, she worked on animal systems in Venezuela, Israel, Peru, Panama and the U.S. She and her students worked on bird, mammals, reptiles, beetles and spiders. She also began working in the Galapagos Islands. This last location has remained her primary research site ever since.

Patty accepted the Des Lee Professorship in Zoological Studies in 2000, leaving Ohio State to come to the University of Missouri - St. Louis and the Saint Louis Zoo. She was challenged to come up with a collaborative project that represented the blended interests and expertise of both institutions. Thus was the creation of the WildCare Institute Center for Avian Health in the Galapagos Islands. Patty's interests expanded from Galapagos hawks to all Galapagos bird species. The Center discovered new disease agents previously undescribed and characterized. Patty and her team have found many parasites that are living their lives in association with Galapagos birds without harming them, and evolving alongside them to make yet more interesting stories of evolution on the Galapagos Islands. And, finally, they are working hard on some relatively recent arrivals that either are or could be quite harmful - seeing if some of the most worrisome could be elimated before they cause great harm. The work relies on collaborations among veterinarians, population geneticists, ecologists, parasitologists and mathematical modelers. She has received the Order of Scientific Merit given by the people of Galapagos, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union and a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society.

This short video, which accompanied the presentation of the award to Dr. Parker, features individuals and organizations with whom Dr. Parker collaborates, including University of Missouri-St. Louis Biology students, the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Center for Avian Health in the Galápagos Islands, the Charles Darwin Foundation, and Galápagos National Parks:

On November 5, 2014 the annual Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum was held at the Saint Louis Zoo. The title was Biodiversity Conservation and Human Development in Madagascar: Lessons from the 8th Continent. Our three speakers, each of whom has conducted extensive research in Madagascar, provided fascinating insight into the priorities and challenges related to conservation work today:

Click here for the complete program.

While the theme of this year's forum was Madagscar, this was also an opportunity for community members, academics, and students to discuss conservation in a broad sense. More than 200 guests attended the event, among them representatives from local organizations dedicated to conservation efforts. These organizations included:

robert marquis

Introduction by Dr. Robert Marquis, Director, Harris World Ecology Center

mitchell irwin

Dr. Mitchell Irwin, Northern Illinois University

brian fisher

Dr. Brian Fisher, California Academy of Sciences

kristen wagner

Dr. Kristen Wagner, University of Missouri-St. Louis

On September 27, 2014 the 4th St. Louis Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (SLEEC) retreat happened at the beautiful Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville campus. If you missed it, or want to know more about any of the talks, please visit the Annual Retreat website. Many thanks to SIUE and the SLEEC Team for putting on a great event! To view the program, which includes abstracts for all the talks and poster presentations, click here.

bat in bellefontaine

The Harris Center, as part of a developing partnership with Bellefontaine Cemetery to inventory Bellefontaine's native biodiversity, sponsored an evening of bat and moth sampling in the cemetery. On August 28, NPR's All Things Considered aired a story based on this work. Click here to listen.


2014 Jane and Whitney Harris Lecturer Lincoln P. Brower receives Conservation Action Prize and is interviewed by NPR’s Veronique Lacapra


Dr.Carmen Ulloa, member of the Harris Executive Committee and MBG curator, describes new genus of plants, adding the 6.5 millionth specimen to the Missouri Botanical Garden Herbarium



Drs. Jeff Ettling (UMSL alum and curator of herps at the STL Zoo) and Sharon Deem speak out for turtle conservation.


Dr. Silvia Fallon

Dr. Silvia Fallon, senior scientist at the NRDC and UMSL Biology alum, testifies for the monarch butterfly


Four UMSL graduate students take OTS Course

 Four UMSL graduate students
(Camilo Calderon, Vona Kuczynska, Courtney Pike, and Isabel Loza) took OTS
courses in early January 2014, and produced videos posted at National

Compton Foundation Fellowships in Environment and Sustainable Development

Graduate Student Awarded Goldman Prize