2018 Nominees


True Conservation Heroes

Finalists and Nominees

Thirty-two global leaders in the field of animal conservation join the ranks of Indianapolis Prize Nominees, devoting their lives to making significant strides to save species through scientific and educational work.​

​​​​The Indianapolis Prize is proud to present six true heroes in the animal conservation field as Finalists for the 2018 award. These men and women have changed the future for some of the most threatened species from across the globe.

Indianapolis Prize
  • Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.
  • Carl Safina, Ph.D.
  • Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
  • Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
  • Joel Berger, Ph.D.
  • P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.
Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D.
Whether he's wading through piranha-infested waters, catching Goliath frogs, or producing agreements between international corporations, Dr. Russell Mittermeier makes conservation happen. In his quest to save biodiversity hotspots, he's discovered 21 species new to science and even has eight named after him!
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
Carl Safina, Ph.D.
Inspired by fishing as a child, Dr. Carl Safina is a crusader for oceans and their creatures. An ocean restoration pioneer and author of seven captivating novels, he brings species' stories to life. His work also extends to dry land, exploring the way animals like elephants and wolves think and feel.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
In his tireless efforts to save the mysterious and endangered snow leopard, Dr. Rodney Jackson spends six months each year in Central Asia’s high mountains, tracking the cats over dangerous terrain by foot, truck, horse and even camel. Jackson helped lead an international team in the first-ever range-wide genetic assessment of snow leopards, and as their classification has improved from endangered to vulnerable, he continues to create solutions to sustain their populations.
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, also known as "Her Deepness," is a trailblazer for the world's oceans. Her research continues to create a global network of marine protected areas she calls "hope spots." This living legend has spent more than 7,000 hours underwater, led an all-female research expedition in 1970 that led to a White House reception, and still holds the record for the deepest untethered walk on the sea floor.
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
Joel Berger, Ph.D.
A warming world has Dr. Joel Berger traveling the Arctic tundra in search of answers about animal migration for flagship species like muskoxen. You may even find him dressed up like a polar bear — his creative approach to observing relationships between predator and prey — studying the impacts of climate change on animals.
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D.
On the coast of Argentina, Dr. Dee Boersma is always up for the task, from health evaluations to hauling the lava rock vital for artificial penguin nests. Magellanic penguins — about 400,000 of them — have her to thank for their thriving colony. She has spent more than 30 years protecting them from oil spills, habitat loss and road construction planned through nesting sites.

2018 Indianapolis Prize
Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, Ph.D.
National University

Naturalist with a profound understanding of orangutans, having studied reproduction, population and conservation of the species for nearly 30 years. With field work, film advising and ecological monitoring expertise, she is recognized as one of the most cited Indonesian orangutan researchers and a major influencer for orangutan and forest conservation policy changes.

Purnima Devi Barman

Renowned environmentalist focused on efforts to conserve greater adjutant storks in India; credited with creating a campaign to ensure the survival of the birds and bring pride to villages that are home to the species, changing an outlook that once viewed the birds as a bad omen.

Christophe Alain Boesch, Ph.D.
Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology & Wild Chimpanzee Foundation

Primatologist dedicated to providing alternatives to bush meat and applying new technology to great ape conservation, decreasing strain on wild chimpanzee populations.

Sheila A. Bolin
The Regal Swan Foundation, Inc.

Advocate for swans worldwide through conservation, research, veterinary medicine and education. President and CEO of the Regal Swan Foundation, Inc., author and member of IUCN’s Swan Specialist Group.

Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D
Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Conducted the first jaguar census in Mexico; developed successful conservation strategies for endangered mammals in North America, including the black-footed ferret; a key proponent in the passage of the country’s Act for Endangered Species. Finalist for the 2010 and 2014 Indianapolis Prize.

Colin Chapman, Ph.D.
McGill University

Scientist and humanitarian who led chimpanzee field studies and established successful ecotourism sites for Uganda’s Kibale National Park; started a health and conservation clinic and mobile health clinic to address public health challenges in remote communities near the park.

Lisa Dabek, Ph.D.
Paupa New Guinea Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program; Woodland Park Zoo

Founder of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program; responsible for the first Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea; used Crittercam© technology for the first time on arboreal mammals, allowing scientists to record animal behavior through mounted video cameras and transmitters.

Scott Dowd
New England Aquarium, Project Piaba

ield biologist whose research on Amazon fisheries formed the basis for sound fisheries management, sustainability and benefits to rural communities. Co-founder of Project Piaba, an NGO supporting field work with the Brazilian government with the goal of socioeconomic and environmental impact.

Rick Hudson
Turtle Survival Alliance

Dedicated advocate for reptile conservation, including groundbreaking work with the Jamaican iguana and the coordination of the largest turtle rescue event in history, seizing more than 7,000 Asian turtles and tortoises in Hong Kong.

Harvey Locke
Harvey Locke Consulting

Recognized for his work in Canada’s national park creation and management and conservation of large landscapes; photographer, writer and co-founder to both the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and Nature Needs Half movement.

Laurie Marker, Ph.D.
Cheetah Conservation Fund

Founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund, leading a conservation program from humble beginnings in rural Namibia to an unparalleled model for predator conservation. 35 years of genetic, biomedical, reproductive and behavioral research has produced an integrated approach to both captive and wild cheetah programs, including raising Kangal livestock guardian dogs. Finalist for the 2008 and 2010 Indianapolis Prize.

Deborah Martyr
Fauna & Flora International

A journalist by training and key player in establishing the first Tiger Protection and Conservation Units in Asia. Identified practical training to uncover active and emergent wildlife crime and needs for government officers and local NGOs to reduce threats to their habitat.

William McLellan
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Cetacean necropsy expert who has consulted on and responded to whale and marine mortality events worldwide. Worked to develop formal post-mortem protocols the led directly to the implementation of US federal regulations to reduce speed for large vessels entering and leaving ports to avoid fatal collisions with right whales.

David Mech, Ph.D.
US Geological Survey; University of Minnesota

Leading authority on the wolf; supports wolf recovery and ecological management in many countries throughout the world by radio-telemetry, physiological assessment, sampling and genetic analysis. Finalist for the 2006 Indianapolis Prize.

Charudutt Mishra, Ph.D.
Snow Leopard Trust

Conservation biologist working to protect threatened species and habitats throughout Central Asia, with a focus on the charismatic and endangered snow leopard. Assisted with the launch of Project Snow Leopard, a national Indian government policy; helped establish snow leopard NGOs and national park anti-poaching programs.

Anna Nekaris, Ph.D.
Oxford Brookes University; Little Fireface Project

Headed studies on the ecology and range of the slow loris (nocturnal primates) as director of the Little Fireface Project; conducted surveys, radio tracking, and ecotourism and reforestation efforts for gibbons, orangutans, macaques, langurs and small carnivores.

Peter Pratje, Ph.D.
Frankfurt Zoological Society

Conservationist focused on protecting Sumatran orangutans; led the building of a rehabilitation complex in the Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape and implemented guidelines for rehabilitation and reintroduction, including the first release of a zoo-born orangutan.

Lente Lidia Roode
Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

Established the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe haven for orphaned and sick animals, complete with an education center, rescue unit and breeding program.

Joel Sartore
National Geographic Photo Ark

Renowned photojournalist with mission to give vanishing species and habitats a voice before they’re gone forever; founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark and co-founder of The Grassland Foundation.

Claudio Sillero, Ph.D.
Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program

Founder and executive director of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, keeping watch over Africa’s rarest and most endangered carnivore. Trialed first intervention methods and rabies vaccinations for at-risk populations.

Ian Singleton, Ph.D.
Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme; PanEco-YEL

Responsible for groundbreaking ecological field studies on Sumatran orangutans; As principal conservation advisor for PanEco Foundation, led conservation activities for NGOs, including the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, focused on habitat and species protection, education, law enforcement, rehabilitation and reintroduction.

Jigmet Takpa
Government of Jammu and Kashmir, India; Department of Wildlife Protection

Focused on evidence-based landscape-level conservation programs in Ladakh northern India, resulting in population recovery of snow leopard, Tibetan argali, gazelle and antelope, lynx, Pallas’ cat, Tibetan and black-necked crane; introduced projects and technologies for local communities to regard wildlife as assets rather than threats.

Adrian Treves, Ph.D.
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies; Carnivore Coexistence Lab

Founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab where research focuses on the balance between human need and wildlife conservation, measuring behavior of problem carnivores using predictive models and human response to conflicts.

Amanda Vincent, Ph.D.
Project Seahorse

First person to study seahorses underwater, document extensive trade and initiate a seahorse conservation project, Project Seahorse. Finalist for the 2010 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

Rob Williams, Ph.D.
Oceans Initiative

Ocean conservationist whose instrumental work convinced policymakers that a whale’s habitat is acoustic; provided evidence that protecting marine species requires reducing ocean noise by slowing ships, improving whalewatching guidelines and creating quieter marine protected areas.

Kerri Wolter

Founder and CEO of VulPro; managed vulture research on disease and nutrition, facilitated breeding census across colonies and coordinated wild captures for tagging; managed rehabilitation and captive breeding center with more than 150 non-releasable birds.