The Stephen J. O'Brien Award for the best student paper published in AGA’s Journal of Heredity is intended to honor Dr. O'Brien's many years of service as Chief Editor of the Journal. This year, twelve articles in Volume 107 that were first-authored by a student were considered, and the award presented to Laura Bergner for her article, European Colonization, Not Polynesian Arrival, Impacted Population Size and Genetic Diversity in the Critically Endangered New Zealand Kakapo (Laura M. Bergner, Nicolas Dussex, Ian G. Jamieson, Bruce C. Robertson. J Hered (2016) 107 (7): 593-602).
The award committee had the following comments on this top-ranked article:
All the top papers combined results from their particular study species with issues at a larger scale, tests of hypotheses, and findings that impact our views of biological processes. Bergner et al. presented a thorough and substantial analysis of historical and contemporary samples from a critically endangered megafauna, with an impressive sample size (n = 54) for now-extinct populations from museum collections.
They used conventional markers to provide synthetic analyses and a thoughtful interpretation for contemporary conservation.