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Grad students win ornithological contest

January 03, 2007
“Who is Alex?”

With the correct answer to that question, the team of Melissa Meadows, Matthew Toomey, and Bobby (Haralambos) Fokidis, all graduate students in the School of Life Sciences, won the inaugural quiz bowl at the fourth North American Ornithological Conference, held in Veracruz, Mexico.

The conference was the largest ornithological meeting in history and was attended by scientists from across the Americas. Each member of this three-student team from ASU was awarded a pair of Audubon Equinox binoculars. The prize was perfect for the avid and knowledgeable birders, since Meadows' old pair had been stolen, and Fokidis also indicated he was in dire need of new binoculars, too.

So who is Alex? He's an African Grey parrot who can label seven colors, count up to six objects, and has featured prominently in the debate over whether or not animals can “think.”