The American Society of Naturalists has chosen Ellen Ketterson as its newest Honorary Lifetime Member. Ketterson is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology at Indiana University Bloomington. She studies interdisciplinary solutions to challenges related to plant, animal, and microbial adjustments to climate change and the associated alterations in geographic distributions of species. Through her research, she seeks ways to support resilient ecosystems and healthy people.
The ASN is a membership society with a mission to advance and diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences. Honorary lifetime membership in the society is intended to recognize scientists whose research careers epitomize the mission of the society.
According to the ASN website, Ketterson “was selected in recognition of her career-long contributions to the understanding of central themes lying at the intersection of ecology, evolution, and behavior, …. Beyond her exemplary and award-winning research accomplishments, Ellen has been a devoted teacher and mentor throughout her career. She has also served the ASN with great distinction, both as President in 2015 and as an Associate Editor of The American Naturalist for many years.”
“This is a remarkable and well deserved achievement in recognition of Ellen's impactful work over the years,” said Jay Lennon, Professor and Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior Section Associate Chair of the Department of Biology. “Seminal studies from her laboratory have transformed our understanding of both the evolutionary and mechanistic bases of behavioral phenomena and their interconnection with the environment.”
Ketterson’s research focuses on natural populations of birds and their responses to environmental change. She is possibly best known for her work with juncos. The documentary Ordinary Extraordinary Junco: Remarkable biology from a backyard bird presents years of research by Ketterson and her colleagues, disclosing the diversity found among this common bird as well as discoveries related to migration, hormones, evolution, and ecology.
Ketterson has also been instrumental in establishing and overseeing a collaborative initiative to better predict the impact of threats due to climate change and facilitate an alliance between IU's faculty and Indiana residents, businesses, nonprofits, and the public sector. The initiative launched the Environmental Resilience Institute in 2017. Ketterson led the team of IU researchers as the institute’s director for its first two years. She continues to guide the ERI as a member of its steering committee and through the Midwest Center for Birds and Biodiversity.
Ketterson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.