In Memory of Professor Jed Burtt
Edward H. “Jed” Burtt Jr., 37-year faculty member at OWU and internationally respected ornithologist, died April 27, at the age of 68.
Burtt, Professor Emeritus of Zoology, filled his career with teaching, mentoring, and discovery. He joined the Ohio Wesleyan Department of Zoology in 1977, where as professor and two-time department chairman, he impacted the lives of thousands of students and co-workers.
He said watching students succeed professionally and personally motivated and inspired him. “There is no higher calling, no greater purpose in life,” he said. “I hope that I convey to all my students my passion for the birds I love, and the science that provides me with boundless excitement, and the privilege I feel in becoming a trusted confident in their lives.”
Burtt was recognized as the 2011 Ohio Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. In 2013, he received the Margaret Morse Nice Medal from the Wilson Ornithological Society for lifetime contributions to ornithology, and he served as the society’s president from 1997-1999.
Throughout his career, Burtt delivered hundreds of presentations and national and international scientific conferences, often in collaboration with undergraduate students. He wrote seven books, many research papers, and awarded a number of research grants.
His research into the microbiology of feathers led to his new insights into the evolution of avian color and feather-maintenance behavior. In 2010, Burtt was elected a Fellow of the International Ornithological Union, where he was one of 100 Fellows worldwide. In 2015, the Wilson Ornithological Society created a “Jed Burtt Mentoring Grants” program in his honor, awarding funds to mentors of undergraduate students working in collaboration on ornithological research projects. From 2008-2010, Dr. Burtt served as President of the American Ornithologists’ Union, where he also was a Life Fellow. Locally, he served for many years as co-director of the Ohio Wesleyan Honors Program and in numerous volunteer service roles as well as on several nonprofit boards.
A resident of Delaware, Burtt is survived by his wife Pam and his children, Jeremy Bredon Burtt and Michelle (Burtt) Bauman.
At his request, contributions can be made in support of Ohio Wesleyan’s Natural History Museum. Please submit gifts to the William D. Stull Endowment Fund, Ohio Wesleyan University, c/o Jodi Bopp, Mowry Alumni Center, 61 S. Sandusky St., Delaware, OH 43015.