James R. Silliman Memorial Research Grant

The James R. Silliman Memorial Research Grant was created to honor Jim Silliman, who received his PhD from EEB in 1980 while working with Stephen Russell (Dissertation: Social and Spacial Systems in the Temperate Nonbreeding Bird Community).  From 1981-1983 Jim was a Professor of Zoology in Nicaragua at UNAN in Leon. This grant supports undergraduate and graduate students whose research interest involve birds.


Kathi Borgmann (2005)

I examined mechanisms underlying the risk of nest predation in birds by (1) reviewing nine of the most commonly cited hypotheses to explain spatial, temporal, and interspecific variation in the risk of nest predation, (2) conducting a comparative analysis of the nest-concealment hypothesis to examine which methodological issues, extrinsic factors, and species traits influence whether or not foliage density affects the risk of nest predation, and (3) testing six mechanistic hypotheses to determine the underlying cause(s) of intra-seasonal decreases in the risk of nest predation.  

Currently I am birding the Americas in a quest to document avian status and distribution, record bird vocalizations, and report on conservation issues. http://birdsofpassage.wordpress.com


Alice Boyle (2001-2005)

I was lucky to receive five separate Silliman Memorial Research Awards between 2001 and 2005. These funds, awarded during my PhD research were critical in helping me get to my tropical field site, buy equipment, and cover station fees. My PhD research addressed the question of why some, but not all tropical birds migrate altitudinally. While my comparative studies confirmed the paradigm of food and diet shaping these movements, population-level work with White-ruffed Manakins refuted the paradigm. In sum, my PhD results led to the formulation of a novel hypothesis that integrated the energetic consequences of diet choice with regional variation in climatic conditions in shaping migratory behavior. Subsequent tests of this hypothesis as a post-doc were consistent with climate playing a critical role in shaping tropical bird life history and behavior, and this theme continues to direct ongoing research in my lab.



James Dwyer (2004)

Dr. James F. Dwyer was a Master’s student under R. William “Bill” Mannan when he received the James R. Silliman Memorial Research Grant.  The Silliman award enabled Dr. Dwyer to band and release Harris’s Hawks in Tucson Arizona in support of his thesis work “Investigating and Mitigating Raptor Electrocution in an Urban Environment.”  Marking individual birds enabled Dr. Dwyer to identify a key component of electrocution risk that is omitted from most studies: proximity of poles to nests as a predictive variable in electrocution risk.  The Silliman award also enabled a study of the relative risk of using metal vs. plastic bands in an electrocution-prone species, contributing to numerous peer-reviewed publications


To see previous recipients click here.