2021 SCB Distinguished Service Award Winners

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) bestowed high honors on five conservationists from around the world for their contributions to the science and practice of biodiversity conservation. The Society presented the awards at a special online ceremony at the 2021 International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) on 17th December.

SCB’s global awards, presented every other year at the ICCB, are given to individuals, groups, or institutions for distinguished service in any field associated with biodiversity conservation and whose work has furthered the mission of SCB. This year, five individuals were honored at ICCB 2021 under four categories for their outstanding work in the field. Details below.

Conservation Beacon Award: Recognizes women of marginalized and multiply marginalized status that are traditionally under-served within higher education. 

Professor Uma Ramakrishnan: India’s National Centre for Biological Sciences. Awarded for extraordinary contributions to the conservation of the Indian subcontinent’s biodiversity through research leadership, on-ground conservation work and mentoring the next generation of conservationists.

Distinguished Service Award: Recognizes individuals, groups or institutions for distinguished service in any field associated with conservation biology and whose work has furthered the mission of SCB.

Professor Sarah Legge: Australian National University and the University of Queensland. Awarded for extraordinary achievements in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management, including ground-breaking research, effective on-ground management, impactful policy work, and outstanding mentorship.

Professor David Towns: New Zealand Department of Conservation and Auckland University of Technology. Awarded for making altitudinal gains in island restoration and species conservation through leadership in research and training the next generation of conservation ecologists.

Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award: Given to individuals who have been a leader in translating principles of conservation biology into real-world conservation. Preference is given to employees of government agencies or individuals who have spent at least part of their career in public service. The intention of the award is to recognize the innovative application of science to resource management and policy. 

Professor David Cumming: University of Cape Town. Awarded for extraordinary contributions to conservation practice and policy, research including on African elephants, institutional leadership and mentorship of generations of researchers and practitioners worldwide.

Early Career Conservationist Award: Honors achievements in conservation by professionals early in their careers (no more than 10 years since leaving school). SCB does not apply an age criterion in order to enable eligibility for individuals who might have come to conservation as a second career.

Dr Rae Wynn-Grant: University of California Santa Barbara. Awarded for extraordinary contributions to the conservation of biodiversity and to future conservationists through leadership in research; science communication; and equity, inclusion, diversity and justice.