Bomberger Brown named AOU fellow

Mary Bomberger Brown
Mary Bomberger Brown

Mary Bomberger Brown, research assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and coordinator of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, has been named as a fellow in the American Ornithologists' Union.

An AOU member for more than 30 years, Bomberger Brown's involvement with the organization has been not only dedicated, but diverse. She served on the AOU council for three years and has reviewed manuscripts submitted for publication in The Auk, the professional journal sponsored by the AOU.

"There is a special camaraderie among people who work with birds, (either for) research, for conservation, for personal interest," Bomberger Brown said. "The AOU provides a place for that to develop into appreciation, collaboration and cooperation."

Upon hearing that she'd been voted as a fellow in the organization, Bomberger Brown said that her initial reaction was one of disbelief.

"Gosh, really, why me? Seriously? What did I ever do to merit this sort of recognition," she said. "It is a humbling thing to be recognized by colleagues who I always thought were much more accomplished than I could ever possibly be."

AOU fellows are chosen for exceptional and sustained contributions to ornithology and/or service to the organization. Nominations for fellows are made by current fellows and elective members.

"Being elected a fellow of the AOU is an extremely prestigious award for a career devoted to research in avian biology," said John Carroll, director of the School of Natural Resources. "It says that she is among the elite in her contributions to science in her field."

Bomberger Brown is a UNL alumna who earned Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and doctoral degrees in Lincoln. She has authored and co-authored numerous studies on birds and is co-author of "Birds of the Central Platte River Valley and Adjacent Counties."

Bomberger Brown wrote the book alongside Paul Johnsgard, emeritus professor and the only other UNL faculty member who is also an AOU fellow.

Johnsgard served as Bomberger Brown's master's degree adviser in the early 1980s.

"It's quite an honor," Johnsgard said. "She is one of my outstanding students and I'm very proud of what she's done."

Bomberger Brown previously received the 2009 Elliott Coues Medal from the AOU in recognition of outstanding and innovative contributions to ornithological research.

Founded in 1883, the AOU is considered one of the more prestigious organizations devoted to the scientific study of birds in the world. Its mission is "to advance the scientific understanding of birds, to enrich ornithology as a profession and to promote a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds."

Bomberger Brown said that her passion for birds exists because it's something she truly enjoys and she's fortunate to do what she does for a living. She's also thankful for all of the students, technicians, support staff, property owners and others who have been part of her research efforts for so many years.

"No one who does research of any sort, especially field work, does it in isolation and I always want to express my appreciation to everyone — even to the birds," she said. "If they all didn’t do such cool things, I would have never had the opportunities and the career that I have had."

— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources