Lifelong chook lover, gifted speaker, nice listener, intrepid explorer, acclaimed scientist, and visionary director. Those are among the qualities that John W. Fitzpatrick has woven into the material of the Cornell Lab during the last quarter-century. Together, they create in Fitz that uncommon means to make the unimaginable doable, and the bizarre, extraordinary.
During Fitz’s storied time on the helm of the Cornell Lab, he’s remodeled the establishment from a revered regional analysis outfit right into a world-recognized authority in citizen science, evolutionary biology, big-data science, bioacoustics, conservation filmmaking, and public outreach and engagement. Through all of it, he’s embodied the Lab’s twin beliefs of educational excellence and in style approachability, carrying on Lab founder Arthur Allen’s well-known problem to “throw open the doorways to ornithology” in order that anybody can take part.
Through every chapter of his profession, Fitz has by no means misplaced his childhood reverence for the sweetness, complexity, and marvel of birds. Those are the identical qualities that captivate tens of hundreds of thousands of birdwatchers worldwide, and make birds such a potent drive for international conservation—the final word aim of all Fitz’s endeavors through the years.
Following positions on the Field Museum and Archbold Biological Station, Fitz grew to become director of the Cornell Lab in 1995. Photo courtesy Molly Fitzpatrick.
He grew up in Minnesota within the Fifties and was a birder from the time he was six years outdated. Photo courtesy of Phil Fitzpatrick.
Fitz spent a lot of his early profession exploring in Peru. Photo courtesy David Willard.
His expeditions to South America spanned a decade and resulted within the scientific description of a number of new species. Photos courtesy David Willard.
Fitz is an completed artist, and he illustrated a number of of his scientific papers. At proper, Fitz holds one of many first recognized specimens of the Royal Sunangel; at left is Fitz’s portray of the female and male, which accompanied his 1979 article describing the brand new species. Painting by John W. Fitzpatrick; picture courtesy Dave Willard.
In the Eighties, Fitz pivoted his focus to the fascinating social construction of the Florida Scrub-Jay, work begun by Glenn Woolfenden, one among Fitz’s early mentors. Photo courtesy Molly Fitzpatrick..
The work has change into one of many longest-running research of any chook species. Except for the yr 2020, Fitz has participated in annual fieldwork yearly since 1972. Photo by Molly Fitzpatrick.
Fitz and his spouse, Molly Fitzpatrick, survey the Florida scrub in 1985. Photo courtesy Molly Fitzpatrick.
Fitz has lengthy been a champion of the position of frequent fires in sustaining habitat for Florida Scrub-Jays. Prescribed hearth has change into a key part of the species’ conservation. Photo by Molly Fitzpatrick.
The famend artist Charley Harper designed a poster for the event of the Lab’s new constructing dedication, in 2003. Photo: Cornell Lab archives.
A camo-clad Fitz listens for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in an Arkansas swamp in 2004. Photo: Cornell Lab archives.
A staunch believer within the inventive worth of birds, Fitz pushed for the Lab to embrace nice artwork, together with the large Wall of Birds, by Jane Kim, which depicts each household of birds throughout a 3-story-high map of the world in our customer heart. Photo by Karen Rodriguez.
Ever the irrepressible birder, Fitz was intent on including a “lifer household” to his record throughout a go to to India. He crawled via the undergrowth to glimpse his first Indian Pitta—and emerged beaming. Photo by Sahas Barve.
Combining two of his favourite actions, birding and mentoring, Fitz speaks to Young BIrders Event attendees in 2011. Photo by Chris Wood.
Over Fitz’s 26 years of management, the Lab has grown from a employees of some dozen to a vibrant group of greater than 250 folks devoted to the Lab’s mission to interpret and preserve the earth’s biodiversity. Photo: Cornell Lab archives.
Selected Milestones From a Long Tenure on the Lab
1995 John W. Fitzpatrick arrives as Louis Aggasiz Fuertes director.
1997 Imogene Powers Johnson senior scientist place established; first step in Fitz’s aim to broaden the tutorial affect of the Lab.
1998 First yr of the Great Backyard Bird Count, one of many Lab’s signature early citizen science initiatives.
1999 Robert G. Engel Professor of Ornithology established; Elephant Listening Project based.
2000 Lab achieves Fitz’s aim of six-member school; digitization of sound archive begins within the newly named Macaulay Library.
2002 eBird launches; Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science endowed place established.
2003 Lab’s new, 90,000 sq. foot constructing, the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, opens.
2004 Birds of North America Online launches; the Handbook of Bird Biology, the Lab’s college-level ornithology textbook, is revealed.
2005 Rediscovery of Ivory-billed Woodpecker introduced in Science article.
2006 Macaulay Library archive goes on-line with 80,000 sound and video clips.
2007 Bioacoustics program begins issuing real-time warnings for endangered proper whales in Massachusetts Bay; Celebrate Urban Birds challenge onboards 2,500 group teams.
2009 First State of the Birds report revealed, following request by President Bush.
2010 All About Birds web site wins a Webby award. Multimedia program spends months documenting impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. First Young Birders Event held (now an annual occasion).
2011 The Lab’s capital marketing campaign kicks off, finally elevating greater than $100 million in honor of the Lab’s centennial, in 2015.
2013 Merlin Bird ID launches; a free app downloaded by greater than 6 million folks.
2015 Jane Kim finishes her epic Wall of Birds mural. Fitz paints the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher as a nod to his lifelong curiosity in each artwork and flycatchers.
2016 Fitz wins Schreiber Award for extraordinary scientific contributions to conservation of birds.
2019 3 Billion Birds paper revealed in Science, alerting the world to steep declines in birds and kicking off a 7 Simple Actions marketing campaign to assist folks take motion to carry birds again.
2020 Fitz is elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.