The submission period for the 2023 Indianapolis Prize and Emerging Conservationist awards is closed. Submissions for the 2025 awards will open June 2023.
Selecting the Finalists and Winner of the Indianapolis Prize is an intense two-step judging structure undertaken by the Prize Nominating Committee and Jury. Nominating an individual is simple and includes a 500-word narrative about the individual along with two to four letters of support. All applications will be reviewed for appropriateness and completeness. A staff member will then contact the applicant and request additional documentation including a CV and supporting materials.
Thank you for your interest in the Indianapolis Prize. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the sustainability of an animal species or group of species. The following information details the criteria needed to nominate an individual. To be nominated, applicants must have accomplished an individual achievement or series of achievements that have resulted in a demonstrable positive impact on an animal species or group of species that is likely to improve long-term sustainability. The impact of achievements under consideration must be clearly recognizable when evaluated by the Nominating Committee and Jury*. Consideration will be given to:
Nominations are open to anyone with knowledge of an individual whose work has had a great impact upon a species or group of species that can be measured over time. Their work must demonstrate the improvement in long-term sustainability was the result of direct and specific actions of the applicant.
The Indianapolis Prize Nominating Committee and Jury each consist of nine different individuals, from across the globe, who are representative of the scientific and conservation sector, the Indianapolis community and the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. At the close of the nomination period, all applications are reviewed for completeness and qualification requirements by the Indianapolis Prize Steering Committee. Once the applicant list is final the Nominating Committee begins the first round of discussion. In closed deliberation, Nomination Committee members have roughly three months to thoughtfully review the materials and determine the six individuals who will advance to the level of Finalist. Once chosen the Jury then analyses the six Finalists’ work, in a second closed deliberation spanning three months, to select the award recipient. The Nominating Committee and the Jury utilize the following criteria to give thorough consideration to the nominee’s scientific impact and sustainable conservation methods:
*Nominating Committee and Jury members change each Prize cycle.
Q: Can an organization be nominated for the Indianapolis Prize?
A: No, Nominees must be individual living persons.
Q: Can you nominate yourself?
A: Yes, however, the stature of the nominator is considered when selecting Finalists and Winners.
Q: Is there an age restriction?
A: No, however consideration is given to the number of years the nominee has dedicated to the aspect of conservation work.
Q: What kind of information should be included in a letter of support (what makes an effective letter)?
A: The stature of the author; the working relationship the author has with the applicant; highlighting specific examples of how the applicant’s work influenced conservation; aspects of the applicant’s dedication to their work. The letters of support are important because they tell the applicant’s story through the eyes of a peer.
Q: Are more support letters important?
A: Letters provide judges with a variety of information and perspectives. It’s best to submit up to four letters, if possible.
Q: What is a measurable outcome?
A: Examples should be specific and can include things like: evidence of specific species population stabilization or increase, legislation written, educating and shifting community practices, protecting species specific habitat.
Q: What should be included in an applicant’s supporting materials?
A: A detailed portfolio or a narrative of significant achievements (10 pages) including hyperlinks to videos, articles and websites. Compelling photos and visuals such as graphs and maps are also helpful.
Q: Do Finalists and the Winner have to be present at the Gala?
A: Yes, they must be present.
Q: Who serves on the Jury/Nominating committee?
A: The members change each year and are selected by the members of the Indianapolis Prize Steering Committee and approved by the Indianapolis Zoo’s executive committee. They represent broad-based leaders in conservation. There is also a representative from the Indianapolis community, the Indianapolis Zoo Board of Trustees and an Indianapolis Zoo staff member.
Q: What is the general timing of announcements?
A: For the 2023 Indianapolis Prize, applications are accepted from June 2021 to February 2022.
Gene D’Adamo, Pulliam Foundation Trust (community representative)
Brian L. Davis, Ph.D., President & CEO, Georgia Aquarium
Jennifer Gray, Ph.D., CEO, Zoos Victoria
Rima Jabado, Ph.D., Project Leader, Save our Seas Foundation
Krithi K. Karanth, Ph.D., Chief Conservation Scientist, Centre for Wildlife Studies
Kira Mileham, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Partnerships, IUCN SSC
Jeffry S. Proudfoot, DVM, Vice President of Veterinary Science, Indianapolis Zoological Society
Megan R. Ross, Ph.D., President & CEO, Lincoln Park Zoo
Michael W. Wells, President of REI Investments, Inc., and Vice President, Indianapolis Zoological Society Board of Trustees (board representative)
Steven A. Amstrup, Ph.D., 2012 Prize Winner and Chief Scientist, Polar Bears International
Vivek Menon, Founder and Executive Director, The Wildlife Trust of India
Christopher Martin, Ph.D. (liaison)
Anne Nobles, M.A., J.D. (community representative)
Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Former Vice President, Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Myrta J. Pulliam (board representative)
Madhu Rao, Ph.D., Chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas
Amanda Vincent, Ph.D., 2021 Prize Winner, Director and co-founder of Project Seahorse and Professor at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries at The University of British Columbia
Serge A. Wich, Ph.D., Professor in Primate Biology, Liverpool John Moores University
The Emerging Conservationist award is a biennial award recognizing 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.
Monika Böhm, Ph.D., Freshwater Coordinator, Global Center for Species Survival (liaison)
Trey Fehsenfeld, Executive Director, Sidekick Foundation (community representative)
Carl G. Jones, Ph.D., 2016 Prize Winner and Chief Scientist, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Russell A. Mittermeier, Ph.D., 2018 Prize Winner and Chief Conservation Officer, Re:wild
Jo-Elle Mogerman, Ph.D., Director of Saint Louis WildCare Park
Crickette Sanz, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis
Amy Willis (board representative)
Patricia C. Wright, Ph.D., 2014 Prize Winner and Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments and Centre ValBio
Disclaimer of Responsibility, Rejection of Applications, Disqualification. The Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. is not responsible for lost, late, non-delivered, or misdirected mail, e-mail, or communications malfunctions of any kind in the administration of the Indianapolis Prize or for the failure of any application to be received by the Indianapolis Zoo on account of postal or courier delays or losses, technical problems, or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Web site, or any combination thereof. The Applicant acknowledges and accepts that the Indianapolis Zoo reserves the absolute right to reject any late or incomplete application. Likewise, if the Applicant or the Nominating Party omits any material fact on the application form or in any other submitted materials, or if Applicant engages in immoral, improper, unseemly or illegal behavior, or any behavior adverse to the Indianapolis Zoo or the other Applicants, whether intentional or unintentional, the Applicant may be disqualified at any point in the process at the Indianapolis Zoo’s sole discretion. If any disqualifying information or provision of false information is discover.