Today, the British Ecological Society (BES) announces the winners of its annual awards and prizes, recognising ten distinguished ecologists and groups whose work has benefited the scientific community and society in general.
This year, honorary membership, the highest honour given by the society, has been awarded to three distinguished ecologists based in three different continents: Anne Magurran, Margaret Palmer and Richard Hobbs, representing the global membership of the BES.
The BES REED Ecological Network are named this year’s Equality and Diversity Champions. Established in 2020 by a small group of early career ecologists from under-represented and marginalised ethnicities, the network has gone from strength to strength and now deliver highly successful workshops on allyship.
The 2022 BES award winners are as follows:
Honorary Membership: Anne Magurran, University of St Andrews; Margaret Palmer, The University of Maryland; Richard Hobbs, The University of Western Australia.
Honorary membership is the highest honour we can give and it recognises an exceptional contribution at international level to the generation, communication and promotion of ecological knowledge and solutions.
Anne Magurran is a world leader in measuring biodiversity and has studied fish communities throughout her career to explore this topic, as well as the evolution of biodiversity, and the role of predation in the evolution of social behaviour.
Anne is a professor at the University of St Andrews, where she is the university's most cited female scientist. Globally, she is the second most cited female ecologist and evolutionary biologist. Anne is also an international counsellor and advisor on issues of conservation related to biodiversity and engaged in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and in the World Economic Forum in 2018.
On being made an honorary member, Anne said: “The BES was the first society I joined, and helped set me on the path to a career in ecology, so I feel very privileged to be awarded Honorary Membership.
“I hope colleagues and friends around the world will feel part of the award, recognise the importance of their own contributions to ecology, and will be inspired to continue asking important and interesting ecological questions.”
Margaret Palmer is a Professor at the University of Maryland and an international leader in restoration ecology.
Margaret is known for her work at the interface of science and policy. She co-designed and now directs a national synthesis centre (SESYNC) that has championed new approaches to fostering research collaborations between social and natural scientists on problems at the interface of people and the environment.
On being made an honorary member, Margaret said: “This is a great honour, and it rightly belongs to the very smart students, collaborators, and intellectual communities that have surrounded me throughout my career.
“Perhaps the most rewarding path in my career has included brainstorming with and learning from international communities of environmental, social, and legal scholars to advance the sustainability of coupled human-natural systems, and this honour is certainly theirs as well.”
Richard Hobbs is a Professor at the University of Western Australia where he heads up the Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology Research Group. Throughout his career, Richard has made outstanding contributions to the science of ecology, conservation and restoration.
Richard is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies.
On being made an honorary member, Richard said: “I joined the BES during the first year of my PhD in 1977 and attended the winter meeting in Lancaster that year. My first paper was published in Journal of Ecology. Later, I contributed regular essays to the Bulletin from Australia, under the title “From our Southern Correspondent."
“So, the BES has been an important part of my life throughout my career. I’m incredibly honoured to be given this award, and humbled to be joining such an amazing group of ecologists. It’s particularly rewarding for me to be recognised by the society with which I ‘grew up’ professionally.”
Marsh Award for Ecology: Kate Jones, University College London
This prize is awarded for an outstanding current research record which is having a significant impact on the development of the science of ecology or its application. It is provided by the Marsh Charitable Trust and administered by the British Ecological Society.
Kate Jones is Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London (UCL), and the Director of the People and Nature Lab in UCL's new campus in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Over the course of Kate’s career she has made key advances in modelling and forecasting zoonotic disease outbreaks in humans, breaking down traditional barriers between ecology, climate change and public health to inform global policy.
Kate said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this award. Healthy ecosystems are critical for all human endeavours, and ecology is moving centre stage as the foundation to address the pressing issues of our time such as pandemics, climate change, and food security. Over the course of my career, I have seen the BES grow into such a brilliant, vibrant, and inclusive society which I am so proud to be part of. This honour from BES means the world to me.
Marsh Award for Climate Change Research: Kathleen Treseder, University of California, Irvine
This prize is awarded for an outstanding contribution to climate change research. It is provided by the Marsh Charitable Trust and administered by the British Ecological Society.
Kathleen Treseder is Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. Over her career she has made many significant contributions to our understanding of how soil fungi mediate ecosystem responses to climate change. Her overarching goal is to improve predictions of future trajectories of global change, by incorporating feedbacks governed by fungi.
On receiving the award, Kathleen said: “I am surprised and grateful to win this award. My lab's mission is to improve predictions of future climate change so we can help society mitigate and adapt to it. I see this award as a sign that we have indeed helped.”
Marsh Award for Ecologists in Africa: Perpetra Akite, Makerere University
This prize aims to celebrate the significant scientific achievements of African ecologists and raise their profile in the UK. It is provided by the Marsh Charitable Trust and administered by the British Ecological Society.
Perpetra is one of Uganda’s leading entomologists and experts in butterflies. She has made important advances in improving knowledge around insects in Uganda, contributing to assessing and mapping key ecologically sensitive species in the country. She even has a moth named after her.
Perpetra is also passionate about passing on her knowledge to younger generations and takes part in a great deal of outreach activities at both school and university level. Her goal is to encourage more young people – especially African girls - to begin a career in science.
Perpetra said: “I am so honoured to receive the award, and feel very proud to represent women in ecology from Uganda. This award is simply the right landmark at this point of my ecological career, and I am deeply grateful to the BES for this recognition.
“Ecological excellence is not just about filling up library shelves, but being able to share that information with others. This award will provide me with a platform for relatable professional anchoring and mentorship for the coming generations of female ecologists, who can easily relate to a local achiever while in pursuit of their own ecological careers.”
Founders’ Prize: Chris Clements, University of Bristol
This Prize commemorates the enthusiasm and vision of the Society’s founders. It is awarded to an outstanding early career ecologist who is starting to make a significant contribution to the science of ecology.
Chris Clements works on the interface between experimental ecology and conservation biology, with his research focusing on developing and testing early warning signals of population collapse, with a view to predicting regime shifts prior to their occurrence. To do this he and his group synthesise information from mathematical models, small-scale experimental systems, and long-term wild population data.
On receiving the award, Chris said: “I am honestly still overwhelmed by it. The BES is such an institution that it’s hard to express how honoured I feel. Receiving this has really motivated me to continue to do the research I love, as well as making me very thankful to all the people who have helped get me here – fantastic supervisors, collaborators, and now my own students and lab group members.
“The BES has been central to all of this – I’ve been attending the annual meetings since I was a student, and they’ve significantly shaped my research, network of collaborators, and the opportunities I’ve had.”
BES Award: Yvonne Buckley, Trinity College Dublin
This Award is made in recognition of exceptional service to the Society.
Yvonne Buckley is Professor of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin and has spent time in Ireland, the UK and Australia throughout her research career. Yvonne is a population ecologist who applies fundamental ecology to pressing challenges for the environment and society.
Yvonne said: “The ecological community of the BES is full of people I look up to and admire so I am absolutely delighted to be recognised in this way. I have had many opportunities throughout my career to work with amazing people. These connections and collaborations have been crucial to the work I’ve done, so I’d like this award to reflect their achievements too.”
Ecological Engagement Award: Lynn Dicks, Cambridge University
This Award recognises an ecologist who has bridged the gap between ecology and other groups.
Lynn Dicks is a Lecturer in Animal Ecology at the University of Cambridge. A key part of Lynn’s work focusses on how farmers can benefit from ecosystem services. Lynn and members of the Cambridge Agroecology group work with farmers to co-design research projects and gather data on how they manage their systems with the overall goal of understanding how we can reduce impacts on wildlife in realistic commercial contexts.
On receiving the award, Lynn said: “It feels fantastic to get this recognition for my efforts, over many years, to engage a range of stakeholders in conversations about how and why we should care for biodiversity.
“I owe this award to the many people who’ve taken time out of their busy working lives in NGOs, government departments and businesses, to join these conversations. Ecological research in real working landscapes, linked to real-world policies, simply wouldn’t be possible without their engagement, so thank you to all of them!”
Equality and Diversity Champion: BES REED Ecological Network
This annual award recognises an individual or group who have campaigned to highlight the importance of equality and diversity and worked to make a difference or served as an inspiration to others. It honours and celebrates those who have made significant, innovative and cumulatively outstanding contributions to enhancing the practice of equality and diversity in the ecological community.
The REED (Racial and Ethnic Equality and Diversity) ecological network was initially founded by Reuben Fakoya Brooks and then established by a small group of early career ecologists under-represented and marginalised ethnicities in 2020. The network seeks to drive positive change for a more inclusive and representative community of ecologists.
The group have developed a highly successful workshop on allyship that challenges what it means to be an effective ally, focussing on individual and organisational learning.
On receiving the award, Reuben Fakoya Brooks, founder and Chair of the REED ecological network said: “I was extremely taken aback when I had received the notification that I had won the award, but in all honestly I felt rewarded for getting up and taking the first step of a staircase that had not yet been scaled! There is still much, much, much more to be done and I feel like we as a network are just at the beginning.
“Like many awards, they often highlight the individual without giving true representation to the team behind the person. I’m receiving this reward as the Vice-chair Bushra Schuitemaker, as the committee and as all the network members. We are all equally pleased about being rewarded with such a notable accolade!”
The winners will be presented with their prizes during a ceremony held at the BES Annual Meeting which runs from 18 – 21 December in Edinburgh. The meeting will bring together over 1000 ecologists (in person and online) to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.
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