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Janis Dickinson

Janis Dickinson

Professor Emerita in Natural Resources

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Janis Dickinson is a Professor Emerita in the Department of Natural Resources and was Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology until 2016. Her research spans the fields of behavioral ecology, evolutionary ecology, and molecular ecology of birds and insects. She is interested in citizen science as an ecological tool, a model of collective action, and an arena where social learning can take place. Her work involves development of research models that blend exploratory research with citizen participation.

Research Focus

Dickinson`s research encompasses basic and applied behavioral ecology as well as citizen science. Her basic research program focuses on the costs and benefits of delayed dispersal, cooperation, conflict, and reproductive decisions in birds and insects. She also collaborates on studies of spatial ecology of birds using citizen science data, and conducts research on how Web-based social networks can support human cooperation within the contexts of public goods and earth-stewardship.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Dickinson leads a dynamic group of 13-20 natural and social scientists, Web programmers/designers, and undergraduate students who create and deliver citizen science projects focused on monitoring long-term environmental change, supporting environmental awareness through attachment to and appreciation of birds, and providing support for pro-environmental behaviors. Her primary interest is the social Web as a facilitator of pro-social behaviors and large-scale cooperation within the environmental context.

Teaching Focus

Dickinson guides graduate students in the fields of basic and applied behavioral ecology and conservation biology, focusing on question-driven research and using field experiments where possible.

Grounding in evolutionary behavioral ecology guides her research on social behavior in birds and insects as well as informing her efforts to use Web-based citizen science to support cooperation within the context of earth-stewardship. Each fall she co-teaches an annual graduate seminar in advanced behavioral ecology and participates in the team-taught graduate seminar in Ornithology. Through field membership in Neurobiology and Behavior, she is also involved as a lecturer in Animal Behavior and Behavioral Ecology courses.

Awards and Honors

  • Elected Fellow (2014) Animal Behavior Society
  • Elected Fellow (2012) The California Academy of Science
  • Loye and Alden Miller Research Award (2018) American Ornithological Society

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • Group norm violations in an online environmental social network: Effects on impression formation and intergroup judgments. 2018 SPSP Convention. March 2018. Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Atlanta, GA United States.
  • The power of the crowd: Socially networked citizen science as an integrative tool for emergent conservation research and management. Emerging Issues Conference. February 2012. Ecological Society of America. National Conservation Training Center, Shephersville, W. VA.
  • Beyond the people paradox: How do we support human capacity to engage with dire environmental problems? Ernest Becker Foundation Conference. 2011. Ernest Becker Foundation. Seattle, WA.
  • Under the mistletoe: The evolution of families in western bluebirds. Linnean Society of New York. March 2011. Linnean Society. American Museum of Natural History.