Announcing the 2019 British Ecological Society award winners

Top row, left to right: Bill Sutherland, Andy Purvis, Susan Trumbore, Esther Kioko, Tom Crowther. Bottom row, left to right: Andrew Beckerman, Joice Nunes Fereira, Kelly Ramirez, Jane Zelikova.

The British Ecological Society (BES) announced today the winners of its annual awards and prizes, recognising nine distinguished ecologists whose work has benefited the scientific community and society in general.

Among the winners are Professor Tom Crowther from ETH Zurich whose research includes the creation of the first global map of tree density, as well as Dr. Joice Ferreira from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) who for the last ten years has spearheaded the integration of ecological science into agricultural and land-use policy making in Brazil.

This year the Equality and Diversity Champion award is shared by Dr Kelly Ramirez from the Netherlands Institute for Ecology and Dr Jane Zelikova from the University of Wyoming, founders of 500 Women Scientists, a grassroots organisation that now has over 20,000 supporters worldwide pledging to build an inclusive, diverse scientific community.

Professor Richard Bardgett, President of the British Ecological Society, said:

“Each year, the BES awards prizes to recognise and celebrate the exceptional contributions of individuals to advancing ecology and communicating its importance for society. I am delighted to offer my congratulations to this year’s winners for their exceptional contributions to ecology.

The full list of 2018 BES award and prize winners is as follows:

  • Honorary Membership: Bill Sutherland, University of Cambridge

Honorary membership is the highest honour the BES gives, recognising exceptional contributions at international level to the generation, communication and promotion of ecological knowledge and solutions. Other people that currently hold Honorary Membership include Sir David Attenborough, Dame Georgina Mace, Sir Charles Godfray and Sir John Lawton.

Bill Sutherland’s leadership of Conservation Evidence has revolutionised the use of scientific evidence by practitioners. His work on resolving the most important unanswered questions in ecology and in conservation, has inspired many other scientific disciplines to follow suit.

On receiving the award Bill Sutherland said “I am deeply honoured and thank the innumerable collaborators over my research career; I have loved the joy of research and the fun of working with others”

  • Marsh Award for Ecology: Andy Purvis, Natural History Museum, London

Provided by the Marsh Christian Trust and administered by the BES, this is awarded for a current research record which is having a significant impact on the development of the science of ecology or its application.

Andy has been at the forefront of several different initiatives to enhance large scale analysis of macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns and processes. His work has had significant impacts on the work of other researchers and on policy and practice because of his general approach to open data and model sharing.

“The Natural History Museum is my favourite building in the world. I feel tremendously privileged and inspired to work in a place where everybody cares so passionately about nature.” Said Andy Purvis.

“I’m thrilled to win this award, especially looking at previous winners! I’m acutely aware of how lucky I am to have this job that I love so much, and to work with such a great group of people.”

  • Marsh Award for Climate Change Research: Susan Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Provided by the Marsh Christian Trust and administered by the BES, this is awarded for an outstanding contribution to climate change research.

Susan Trumbore is an award-winning earth systems scientist focusing on the carbon cycle and its effects on climate. She is especially recognised for her research on the application of radiocarbon to study the dynamics of carbon cycling in plants and soils and how this is modified by climate change.

Using radiocarbon, she has demonstrated rapid exchange between soil carbon and atmospheric carbon dioxide driven by temperature change, and provided novel estimates of residence times, sequestration rates and partitioning fluxes of soil carbon. This work has laid the foundation for much of our current understanding of how soil organic matter responds to global environmental change in a range of ecosystems.

On receiving the award Susan Trumbore said “I am very honoured to receive this award, particularly when I look at the list of people who have won it.”

“I hope my research has contributed to solving the puzzle of the global carbon cycle and putting constraints on how we manage ecosystems to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”

  • Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa: Esther Kioko, National Museums of Kenya

Provided by the Marsh Christian Trust and administered by the BES, this is awarded for an outstanding current research record, largely completed in Africa, which is having a significant impact on the development of the science of ecology or its application.

Esther is currently leading a large project that aims to assess Lepidoptera pollinator diversity in East Africa. In this region the majority of crops rely on insect pollination, but there is a dearth of information on status and trends in African pollinator biodiversity.

The project involves digitization of National Museums of Kenya collection of over three million specimens dating from the colonial period to the present day and also training the next generation of African pollinator scientists.

On receiving the award Esther Kioko said “Winning this award means a lot to me! I am excited and motivated to press on and do more especially for the young scientists in Africa who face a lot of challenges as they aspire to advance their careers in ecology. The same goes for local communities, who need ecology to inform their actions as they battle with nutrition and food insecurity in fragile ecosystems facing the effects of climate change.”

  • Founders’ Prize: Tom Crowther, ETH Zurich

The BES Founders’ Prize commemorates the enthusiasm and vision of the Society’s founders. It is awarded to an early-career ecologist who is starting to make a significant contribution to the science of ecology.

Tom’s studies are motivated by a desire to inform our understanding of global processes. To date, his most notable contributions include the generation of the first global map of tree density and quantifying global soil carbon losses in response to warming.

As a result of these studies, NASA are currently using the research to generate a spatial understanding of global carbon dynamics, Tom was invited to contribute to the COP21 discussions in Paris, he is the lead scientific advisor to the UN’s Trillion Tree Campaign, and is also the scientific advisor to Plant for the Planet, a youth NGO with over 75,000 child ambassadors planting trees for global climate justice.

“I have immense respect for the Society and the contribution it makes to science – supporting young and upcoming researchers in particular. To be honoured by an organisation that I hold in such high esteem is humbling.” Said Tom Crowther.

  • BES Award: Andrew Beckerman, University of Sheffield

The BES Award is made in recognition of exceptional voluntary service to the Society and its community.

Andrew Beckerman has been an exceptional ambassador for the BES for well over a decade. His commitment and energy have encouraged many others to follow in his footsteps and become heavily involved in society activities.

On receiving the award Andrew Beckerman said “It is an honour to receive this award. I have been a part of the society since 1999, serving on council, as Chair of Meetings and in various other roles and committees. I also previously won the BES Founders Prize in 2006.”

  • Ecological Engagement Award: Joice Nunes Fereira, EMBRAPA, Belém, Pará

This award recognises an ecologist who has bridged the gap between ecology and the public.

Dr. Joice Ferreira has spearheaded the integration of ecological science into agricultural and land-use management policy making in Brazil over the past 10 years. Her successes include developing evidence-based environmental policy governing secondary forests in the Amazon, leading environmental debates in the Brazilian Senate, and undertaking innovative outreach events that have been highlighted by both the UK and Brazilian media.

“I’m really honoured to receive this prize, it motivates me to continue my efforts towards bridging the gap between research and the public. Despite the fact this type of work involves a good investment of time and energy, it is not always as valued in academia as producing papers. But this is what inspires me the most, seeing years of research translated into transformative changes.” Said Joice Nunes Fereira.

“A more sustainable future in the Amazon and elsewhere depends upon conciliating different views. As a researcher it is easy to only discuss these issues with your peers, but in doing so, the probability of making a difference in the real world is low.”

  • Equality and Diversity Champion: Kelly Ramirez, Netherlands Institute for Ecology and Dr Jane Zelikova, University of Wyoming

This award recognises an individual or group who has made innovative contributions to enhancing the practice of equality and diversity in the ecological community.

Kelly Ramirez and Jane Zelikova are co-founders of 500 Women Scientists, a grassroots organization, that now has over 20,000 supporters worldwide pledging to build an inclusive, diverse scientific community. Kelly and Jane are the driving force behind this and their organisation has truly brought equality and diversity to the forefront of the scientific community.

On receiving the award Kelly Ramirez and Jane Zelikova said “This award is really an acknowledgement of every single person who has dedicated their time to make science open, inclusive, and accessible, work that is so often done by the most marginalised members of our communities and rarely acknowledged.”

The winners will be presented with their prizes during a ceremony held at the Society’s annual conference in December, which will bring together 1,200 ecologists from around 60 countries to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.

Media Contacts:

For more information about the awards or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Davy Falkner, Media Relations Officer, British Ecological Society
Email: davy@britishecologicalsociety.org, T: +44 (0)20 3994 8255, M: +44 (0) 7525 966 919