Some of the brightest minds in zoology were honoured last night (Tuesday 21 June 2016) as international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) hosted its prestigious annual awards ceremony.
The awards, held at ZSL London Zoo, recognise outstanding contributions to conservation and zoological research, and reward individuals who help us to better understand and conserve the natural world.
This years’ ceremony celebrated a vast array of world-leading science, from advances in acoustic monitoring of sea mammals to research that has improved our understanding the mechanics of bird flight, and recognised some of the life science’s most innovative and influential individuals.
The Frink Award, ZSL’s highest award for zoologists, was this year awarded to Professor Peter Holland FRS of the University of Oxford, whose prolific research on the impacts of gene duplication helped shed light on the complex history of vertebrate evolution.
The evening saw three notable winners of the highly-coveted ZSL Scientific Medal, which is awarded to individuals with the most distinguished 15 years of postdoctoral work in zoology. Kevin Foster from the University of Oxford was honoured for his work on social behaviours and evolution, Heather Ferguson from the University of Glasgow was recognised for her long-term research into the transmission and control of mosquito-borne diseases, and Virpi Lummaa from Sheffield University was rewarded for her outstanding contributions to life-history studies on elephants and humans.
While individuals were honoured from institutes across the UK, ZSL’s own Dr Nathalie Pettorelli and her former colleague Dr Seirian Sumner (now at the University of Bristol), were awarded the ZSL Silver Medal. Established in 1837, the Medal recognises contributions to the understanding and appreciation of science and was awarded for their work establishing Soapbox Science, a pioneering public engagement event designed to encourage women into scientific careers.
Sarah Durant, senior research fellow at ZSL, was given the ZSL Medal, which recognises a member of ZSL’s staff outstanding achievements, and was awarded for her exceptional contributions in terms of her research, applied conservation activities and impact on policy.
Spanning across all levels of research, from young scientists to esteemed academics, Ingrid Christina Easton of Queen’s Gate School was the youngest of this year’s winners. The sixth form student was given the ZSL Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize, awarded for the best A-level (or Higher) project, for her research on the effect of acidity on earthworm behaviour. Ingrid's fantastic project has now been published in Young Scientists Journal.
The awards also recognised the team at Silverback Films for their work on the acclaimed BBC Natural History Unit series The Hunt. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, this landmark programme showcased the best of wildlife filmmaking and was awarded the Thomson Reuters Award for Communicating Zoology.
ZSL Director General Ralph Armond said: “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s winners.
“The Zoological Society of London has been promoting science and conservation since its inception, and the ZSL Annual Awards provide a great opportunity for us to recognise the work of some of the most brilliant and passionate individuals in this field, who have each demonstrated their commitment to working for wildlife worldwide.”
Full list of winners 2016
Frink Award - awarded to a professional zoologist for substantial and original contributions to the advancement of the science
Peter Holland, University of Oxford
Scientific Medal – awarded for contributions made within 15 years of completing a PhD
Heather Ferguson, University of Glasgow
Kevin Foster, University of Oxford
Virpi Lummaa, University of Sheffield
Stamford Raffles Award – awarded for distinguished contributions to zoology by amateur zoologists or professional zoologists in recognition of work which is outside the scope of their professional activities
Nick Tregenza, who set up Chelonia Limited, a company that manufactures acoustic devices for cetacean research
Silver Medal – awarded for contributions to the understanding and appreciation of zoology, including such activities as higher and public education in natural history and wildlife conservation
Soapbox Science (Dr Nathalie Pettorelli and Dr Seirian Sumner)
Marsh Award for Conservation Biology - awarded for contributions of fundamental science and its application to the conservation of animal species and habitats
Steve Redpath, University of Aberdeen, for his work on conservation conflicts and, in particular, the challenge of coexistence between livelihoods and biodiversity conservation
Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation - awarded for contributions of fundamental science and its application to conservation in marine and/or freshwater ecosystems
Paul Thompson, University of Aberdeen, for his research on how environmental change and human disturbance affect seabird and marine-mammal populations and his work giving advice to governments, companies and NGOs on how to avoid and mitigate environmental damage
Thomson Reuters Award for Communicating Zoology - awarded for a communication of a zoological nature that has an outstanding impact on a general audience
Jonnie Hughes and the Silverback Films team for the BBC series The Hunt
ZSL Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize - awarded for best A-Level (or Higher) project
Ingrid Christina Easton, Queen’s Gate School, Is the composting worm Eisenia fetida repelled by lemon peel in compost?
ZSL Charles Darwin Award and Marsh Prize – awarded for best undergraduate project
Patrick Meyer Higgins, University of Oxford, A comparative study of Strouhal number in birds: on wing morphology, flight mode, and methodology
ZSL Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize – awarded for best PhD thesis
David Labonte, University of Cambridge, Biomechanics of controllable attachment in insects
ZSL Medal – awarded to a member of ZSL staff for outstanding achievement in the service of ZSL
Sarah Durant, senior research fellow, for her exceptional contributions in terms of her research, applied conservation activities and impact on policy