ZSL Scientific award winners 2014

ZSL recognises outstanding achievements in conservation and zoological research through its annual presentation of awards and prizes. The 2014 awards were presented at our awards ceremony on 16 June 2015. The full citations for award winners can be found here: PDF icon Scientific Awards Citations 2014 (92.24 KB)

Elise Andrew receives the Stamford Raffles Award
Elise Andrew receives the Stamford Raffles Award

Stamford Raffles Award

The Stamford Raffles Award is presented for distinguished contributions to zoology by amateur zoologists or for activities outside normal professional undertakings. This year’s award is presented to Elise Andrew, founder of I F*cking Love Science (or IFLScience, as we are in polite company!).  Elise is an extraordinary science communicator, and the IFLScience blog and Facebook site are unquestionably among the most influential popular science outlets.  Although Elise writes about all science, much of her content concerns zoology. IFLScience was initially something Elise did in her spare time but its popularity means that it is now a full-time venture. The Facebook page, created in March 2012, had over 1000 followers after the first day, by October of that year it had over 1 million followers, and it currently has over 20 million followers. Furthermore, the site generates a huge amount of user discussion, often putting IFLScience at the top of Facebook's engagement statistics.

Thomson Reuters Award for Communicating Zoology

Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss
Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss.

The ZSL Thomson Reuters Award for Communicating Zoology is awarded for a communication of a zoological nature that has an outstanding impact on a general audience.  This year’s award is presented to Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss for the BBC Radio 4 programme and book Tweet of the Day.  As any of you who are roused by tweets at 5.58 on weekday mornings will know, each Tweet of the Day lasts a minute and a half, and features the song of a particular bird followed by captivating insights into the behaviour and habits of that species. The enthusiasm of the authors is central to the charm and delight of the episodes.  In the book version of the programme, Brett and Stephen take readers through the year month by month, describing the lives of Britain’s favourite birds. 

Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize

Johanne Mathieson and Jamie Weir
Johanne Mathieson and Jamie Weir.

The ZSL Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize is awarded to an A-Level or Higher student for the best project on some aspect of animal biology. This year’s winner is Jamie Weir, of Larbert High School, for his project ‘The ground beetle fauna of Glen Finglas, Stirlingshire, and factors affecting species distribution and abundance’.  In this superb study Jamie recorded the distribution of Coleoptera species in different ecological niches in order to investigate the environmental factors that influence habitat preferences. 

Charles Darwin Award and Marsh Prize

Benjamin Hopkins receives the Charles Darwin Award
Benjamin Hopkins receives the Charles Darwin Award

The ZSL Charles Darwin Award and Marsh Prize is awarded for the best zoological project by an undergraduate student attending university in the UK.  This year’s winner is Benjamin Hopkins, University of Oxford, for his project ‘The role of the accessory gland secondary cells in mediating sperm competition in Drosophila’.  In this exceptional study, Benjamin used a range of cutting-edge molecular techniques to unravel the function of the accessory gland secondary cells in reproduction, and he was able to show how these cells affect sperm competiveness and female fecundity.

Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize

Ben Ashby receives the Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize
Ben Ashby receives the Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize.

The ZSL Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize is presented for the best zoological doctoral thesis. This year’s winner is Ben Ashby, University of Oxford.  Ben’s thesis brings together novel information on the role of genetic interactions and contact between hosts and parasites in a co-evolutionary context.  Ben explores the diverse range of consequences of these roles, including the evolution of sex, genetic diversity and mating behaviour.

Scientific Medals

The ZSL Scientific Medal is awarded to scientists with no more than 15 years postdoctoral experience for distinguished work in zoology.  This year we are awarding three medals.

Andy Garner receives his Scientific Medal.
Andy Gardner receives his Scientific Medal.

Andy Gardner, University of St Andrews

Andy is one of the most talented and breathtakingly original theoreticians working on the evolution of animal behaviour. From his early research, which cleverly showed how spite could evolve, to more recent work which explores how social evolution influences genomes, Andy has published landmark papers addressing a range of issues, including social evolution, genetic systems of sexual reproduction, the evolution of mating systems, and empirical studies on bacteria and malaria. These have been profoundly influential – he has 18 papers with more than 100 citations, including one of the most cited papers ever published by the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, which has over 650 citations.

Patrik Nosil, University of Sheffield

Patrick Nosil receives his Scientific Medal.
Patrick Nosil receives his Scientific Medal.

Patrik is an evolutionary geneticist who researches the causes and mechanisms of speciation. In his relatively short career Patrik has developed much of the current understanding of how ‘genomic islands’ of differentiation caused by adaptation arise. Much of Patrik’s research focuses on the ecological speciation of walking-stick insects, Timema sp., a genus that contains many pairs of populations, races and species at various stages of reproductive isolation.  He also conducts larger-scale studies of speciation that address classic issues, such as patterns and modes of diversification.  Patrik’s publication record is astonishing – including 80 very highly cited papers in the leading journals in his discipline. 

Tommaso Pizzari, University of Oxford

Tommaso Pizzari receives his Scientific Medal
Tommaso Pizzari receives his Scientific Medal.

Tom is an exceptional scholar who undertakes highly original and influential research on the evolutionary ecology of sexual behaviour. Much of Tom’s work focuses on resolving different aspects of sexual selection and intersexual coevolution, using the red junglefowl, Gallus gallus, and, more recently, fruit flies, as model species.  Employing a combination of experimental work, and physiological and molecular tools, Tom has made significant contributions to the study of sexual reproduction at both ecological and evolutionary scales, addressing a wide range of inter-related challenges, such as the social, genetic and ecological factors affecting sexual conflict, sexual selection theory, sperm competition and cryptic female choice.  

Silver Medal

Darren Mann receives his Silver Medal.
Darren Mann receives his Silver Medal.

The ZSL Silver Medal is awarded for contributions to the understanding and appreciation of zoology. This year’s award is presented to Darren Mann, Head of Life Collections at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  In addition to his curatorial responsibilities at the Museum, and his research interests (I should mention here that he is the UK authority on dung beetle systematics and ecology), Darren has a remarkable ability to engage with people at all levels. From visiting primary school groups and undergraduate students, to policy makers and major university donors, everyone leaves the Museum enthused and wanting to know more.  Darren is also enormously committed to networking with community and volunteer‐led groups, from local Wildlife Trusts to national specialist groups. 

Frink Award

Sir Pat Bateson receives the Frink Award.
Sir Pat Bateson receives the Frink Award.

The ZSL Frink Award is the Society’s highest award for zoologists, and this year we are delighted to present it to Sir Pat Bateson FRS, Emeritus Professor of Ethology, University of Cambridge, for his substantial and original contributions to the advancement of the science.  Throughout his career, Pat has had an enormous impact on the field of animal behaviour. He has worked extensively on the relationship between physiology and behaviour, the neural mechanisms behind imprinting, and how behaviour and development affect evolution.  Pat also developed the concept of optimal outbreeding, generating an important area of research that has been exploited by theoreticians as well as empiricists.

Marsh Award for Conservation Biology

Ben Collen receives the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology.
Ben Collen receives the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology.

The ZSL Marsh Award for Conservation Biology is presented for contributions of fundamental science, and its application to the conservation of animal species and habitats. This year’s winner is Ben Collen, University College London. Ben is establishing himself as a pre-eminent scientist in the field of global conservation biology. His impressive publications list is testament to the influential nature of his research, both scientifically and in policy terms.  Ben led the work that resulted in the compilation of data that underlies the WWF Living Planet Index, which has recently been used to show that over 50% of global vertebrate populations have been lost since 1970. 

Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation

Heather Koldewey receives the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation.
Heather Koldewey receives the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation.

The ZSL Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation is presented for contributions of fundamental science and its application to conservation in marine and/or freshwater ecosystems. This year’s winner is ZSL’s Heather Koldewey.  Heather started working for ZSL in 1995, initially as a research scientist, then as curator of the ZSL London Zoo Aquarium, and she currently heads ZSL’s Global Conservation Programmes. Heather’s work is truly interdisciplinary, and her research sits at the interface between communities and environment. She has made a real impact in many areas, including important reef and open-ocean work in Chagos; the conservation of threatened species, as co-founder of Project Seahorse; and ecosystem management, particularly mangroves.  

Outstanding Contribution to the Zoo Community

Ulrich Schurer receives the Award for Contributions to the Zoo Community.
Ulrich Schurer receives the Award for Contributions to the Zoo Community.

The ZSL Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Zoo Community is presented to Dr Ulrich Schürer.  Ulrich has made significant contributions to the international zoo community.  His career began with an internship as a keeper at Wuppertal Zoo in 1966; he received his doctorate in 1978 and was appointed Managing Director of the Wuppertal Zoo in 1991.  Ulrich was a founder representative of the European Zoo Union in 1988, and served on the Council of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), where he played an active role, particularly in the development of the European Zoo Directive.  Ulrich chaired the EAZA legislative committee for many years, and this important work has been fundamental in establishing the high standards required of zoos and aquariums in all EU countries. 

Staff Medal

Robin Fitzgerald receives the Staff Award.
Robin Fitzgerald receives the Staff Award.

The ZSL Staff Medal is presented to Robin Fitzgerald. Robin joined ZSL in 1992 as an electrician, became electrical foreman in 1997, was appointed construction projects manager in 2003, and became Senior Project Manager in 2008. Robin has managed all major construction projects across ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and ZSL London Zoo since 2006, beginning with Butterfly Paradise, through to Gorilla Kingdom, Penguin Beach and Tiger Territory. The total capital spend on these projects must well exceed £20 million. Many projects have achieved international recognition, ranging from design awards for the Terrace Restaurant to sustainability awards for Gorilla Kingdom.