Applications invited for the 2019 ASN Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator’s Awards

Posted on

Jasper Loftus-Hills and the Melbourne Zoology Department call discrimination tank, 1970 (Sullivan et al. "Murray John Littlejohn and Patricia Gordon Littlejohn," Copeia 103:467-475)

The Jasper Loftus-Hill Young Investigator’s Award of the American Society of Naturalists honors outstanding promise and accomplishments of young investigators who conduct integrative work in the fields of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Behavioral Ecology and Genetics. Applicants working in any of these fields are encouraged to apply.

The award was established in 1984 to recognize exceptional work by investigators who received their doctorates in the three years preceding the application deadline, or who are in their final year of graduate school. The award commemorates Jasper Loftus-Hills (1946-1974), an Australian biologist of exceptional promise who was killed during the course of fieldwork three years after receiving his degree.

The award honors the outstanding promise and accomplishments of young investigators (3 years post-PhD, or in the final year of their PhD) who conduct integrative work in ecology, evolution, behavioral ecology, and genetics. Time since PhD degree can be extended by 1 year for each child born or adopted during this period if the applicant has been a primary care giver. Other forms of exceptional caregiving responsibility (e.g., partner, spouse, aged parent, etc). or extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Winners of this award will present a research paper in the Young Investigator’s Symposium at the ASN annual meeting and receive a $500 prize, a travel allowance of $700, cost of registration for the meetings, and a supplement of $500 in case of intercontinental travel. Four awards are made annually. Recipients need not be members of the Society.

The prize committee encourages direct applications and welcomes suggestions of people who should be encouraged to apply. Applications should consist of no more than three pages that summarize the applicant’s work (excluding tables, figures, and references), no more than four appropriate reprints, and a CV combined as a single pdf. Two letters from individuals familiar with the applicant’s work should be sent separately. All application materials should be sent via e-mail by January 15, 2019, to Luke Harmon (lukeh@uidaho.edu). Please indicate “Young Investigators’ Award” in the subject line, and for reference letters, the name of the applicant.


Jasper Loftus-Hills

Golden Coquí (Eleutherodactylus jasperi)

Jasper Loftus-Hills (1946-1974) was an Australian biologist of exceptional promise who lost his life doing fieldwork recording frog calls in Texas, three years after receiving his degree from the University of Melbourne.

An obituary appeared in Copeia: in 1974 (Alexander, Richard D. "Jasper Loftus-Hills." Copeia 1974:812-13). 

The Golden Coqui (in the photo above) was discovered on Puerto Rico by George E. Drewry, Kirkland L. Jones, Julia R. Clark, and Jasper J. Loftus-Hills. They had planned to name the species for its color, but when Loftus-Hills was killed in 1974, his colleagues chose instead to name it in his honor: 

A further description of Jasper Loftus-Hills appeared in Copeia 2015 (103:467-475), which is a retrospective on his mentor, Murray John Littlejohn (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1643/OT-15-274)

The most gifted graduate student Murray ever worked with (in his own estimation) was Jasper Loftus-Hills, whose Ph.D. thesis “Auditory function and acoustic communication in anuran amphibians” was completed in 1971. Jasper followed in Murray’s footsteps to Austin and then went on to Cornell University and the University of Michigan. He was tragically killed by a hit-and-run driver while doing night fieldwork on Gastrophryne in Texas in 1974. The 1992 Gastrophryne paper coauthored by Jasper and Murray is a lucid analysis of the state of the art in character displacement and reinforcement, two terms burdened with a long history of confusion.  (Loftus-Hills, J. J., and M. J. Littlejohn. 1992Reinforcement and reproductive character displacement inGastrophryne carolinensis and G. olivacea (Anura: Microhylidae): a re-evaluationEvolution 46:896906.