April 18, 2023
Officials from the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation, today named Peruvian primatologist and anthropologist Fanny M. Cornejo the 2023 Winner of the Inaugural Emerging Conservationist Award. The biennial Award recognizes and supports conservationists under 40 years of age with the talent and drive to make a significant impact on saving an animal species or group of species.
Over the past 15 years, Cornejo has devoted her professional life to primate conservation and research. She leads Yunkawasi, a conservation organization she founded with her mother, the late Fanny Fernández Melo. Yunkawasi works with Amazonian and Andean communities for the conservation of threatened species through sustainable economic development, education and a protected area management approach.
“Fanny is leading the next generation of conservationists to protect nature and inspire people to care for our world. The depth of accomplishments set her apart from the other nominees. I can’t wait to see the impact of her career in conservation,” said Indianapolis Zoological Society President and CEO Dr. Rob Shumaker.
The Emerging Conservationist Award is supported by the Kobe Foundation and as Winner, Cornejo will receive a $50,000 award to continue with the Yunkawasi conservation work for endangered species through engaging participation from more than 20 rural and indigenous communities to sustainably manage territories and create protected areas. To date, more than 15,000 people have been reached through Cornejo’s conservation education programs focused on Peruvian endangered wildlife. She has also authored more than 100 scientific articles and congressional presentations.
“I am very honored and grateful for this recognition that is not only for me, but also for my entire team, the people we work with, our partners in local communities, governments and our donors. Undoubtedly, being the first winner of the Emerging Conservationist Award and from an organization as important as the Indianapolis Prize is a great recognition for our work in Peru,” said Fanny Cornejo, Winner of the Indianapolis Prize’s inaugural Emerging Conservationist Award.
In 2014, Fanny received the Medal of the Order of Merit for Women, which is awarded by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, for her outstanding professional activity for nature conservation. She is a Ph.D. Candidate at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York, where she focuses her studies on primates and large mammals, ecological issues and protecting forests to improve the livelihoods of the local indigenous communities. Indianapolis Prize 2014 Winner Dr. Pat Wright is one of Cornejo’s graduate mentors.
The Emerging Conservationist Award is made possible through a grant from the Kobe Foundation.
Cornejo will be formally recognized as the 2023 Emerging Conservationist at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc. in downtown Indianapolis on Sept. 30, 2023.
The Emerging Conservationist Finalists were selected through a two-stage selection process, where a Review Committee evaluated and narrowed the application pool to 10 Finalists. Those Finalists were then evaluated by a Selection Committee who chose the Winner.
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