Awards and Scholarships

Kenneth S. Norris Lifetime Achievement Award

The Society for Marine Mammalogy established the Kenneth S. Norris career achievement award in honour of the Society’s founding president and one of the truly great figures from our past. The Norris award is an acknowledgement of exemplary lifetime contributions to science and society through research, teaching, and service in marine mammalogy.  The Award is granted every second year, in association with the Society’s biennial conference.  The 2017 award recipient, Dr. Randy Reeves, gave a compelling plenary lecture on the plight of river dolphins and a paper on his work will be published in Marine Mammal Science in 2018.

Nominees for the Norris award are provided by the Society’s President, President-elect, Scientific Advisory Committee Chair, and Journal Editor. The award recipient is selected from this group by vote of the Board of Governors of the Society and the Board of Associate Editors of Marine Mammal Science.

The Norris Award winners are:


F.G. Wood Memorial Scholarship Award

This award is given in honor of Forest G. Wood, a founder of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and noted for his editorial skills. All students submitting manuscripts accepted for publication in Marine Mammal Science should note that they want to be considered for this award when the manuscript is submitted. The editor will select the winner from among the accepted manuscripts submitted during the interval between successive Biennial Conferences on the Biology of Marine Mammals. Costs for registration, travel, hotel and banquet plus a per diem are included.

The 2015-2017 winner is Dr. Julie van der Hoop for her paper entitled, Drag from Fishing Gear Entangling North Atlantic Right Whales.

John R. Twiss Jr. Award

This award is presented to the best student manuscript submitted to Marine Mammal Science which describes innovative research related to marine mammal habitat and ecosystem conservation. All students submitting manuscripts should note that they want to be considered for this award when the manuscript is submitted. The editor will select the winner from among the accepted manuscripts submitted during the interval between successive Biennial Conferences on the Biology of Marine Mammals. There is a cash prize for the winner.

The 2015-17 winner is Brianna Wittenweem for her paper entitled Trophic niche partitioning and diet composition of sympatric fin (Balaenoptera physalus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Gulf of Alaska revealed through stable isotope analysis

Robin Best Memorial Award

This award is presented in memory of Robin Best, a respected marine mammalogist who concentrated his research on South American species, with a major focus in Brazil.  This award is presented for the best student presentations given at the biennial Reunião De Trabalho De Especialistas Em Mamíferos Aquáticos Da América Do Sul (South American Specialists in Aquatic Mammals) to encourage South American students and young researchers to pursue the study of aquatic mammalogy in South America.  Monetary awards and recognition are given at the conference banquet.  The winner(s) will be acknowledged at the next Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

The 2016 runners up are:

Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation – Fernando Vilchez
Title/Título do trabalho: Morfometría de fetos abortados de lobos marinos sudamericanos (Arctocephalus australis ssp.) en Punta San Juan, Perú.

Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation – Daniel Carcamo
Title/Título do trabalho: “Distribution and structure of reproductive units if southern sea lion, Otaria byronia, during mating season in Punta Chaiguaco rookery, Southern Pacific.

Best Graduate Poster Presentation – Ailin Sosa Drouville
Title/Título do trabalho: Analisis de la variación morfológica de cráneos de delfín oscuro (Laegenorhynchus obscurus) de la costa Patagonica argentina.

Best Graduate Oral Presentation – Natalia Botero
Title/Título do trabalho: Same-sex socio-sexual interactions among a group of captive male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

WINNER Robin Best Award Winner/Prêmio Robin Best
Karla Calderón
Title/Título do trabalho: Primeros registros en la faune parasitaria de Arctocephalus australis spp. en lobo marino fino (Mammalia: Otariidae) procedente de la población peruana en Punta San Juan, Perú.

S. Innes Memorial Travel Bursary

On May 21, 2000, the world of marine mammal research lost two talented scientists and cherished colleagues, Stuart Innes and Malcolm Ramsay. Drs. Innes and Ramsay were conducting field research near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada when their helicopter crashed. Both Stuart and Malcolm are remembered with affection and admiration for their boundless energy and devotion to their scientific endeavours in the Arctic. Stuart was a vocal advocate for supporting students in their efforts to develop a career in Arctic marine mammal research. He believed that the Biennial Marine Mammal Conferences hosted by the Society for Marine Mammalogy were a good opportunity for young researchers to learn, network, and develop enthusiasm from the leaders in the field. As a tribute to Stuart, friends and colleagues have established the “S. Innes Memorial Student Travel Bursary” to help support a student’s travel to this conference. The award is open to post-secondary students conducting marine mammal research in the Arctic.

The 2017 winner is Charmain Hamilton for her presentation entitled Impacts of sea-ice declines on a pinnacle Arctic predator-prey relationship; habitat, behaviour and spatial overlap between coastal polar bears and ringed seals.

Conference Awards

See all 2017 Biennial Conference award winners, read their winning abstracts and view their presentations here. 

Frederic Fairfield Memorial Award

The Fairfield Award will be given to a student at each Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in memory of Frederic Fairfield, a marine mammal scientist who had a passion for innovative research methods. The purpose of the award is to recognize and support young scientists (students) who have developed or applied pioneering techniques or research tools for studying marine mammals. All students who indicate that wish to be considered for student awards on the Biennial Conference abstract submission form will be considered for the award. Only those individuals who are directly involved with the award are excluded. Both poster and oral presentations will be considered. The work may be either field, laboratory or a combination. The award winner will be determined based on the submitted abstract and on the content and quality of the presentation. This award differs from the other student awards given by the Society for Marine Mammalogy in that the emphasis is on innovative methodology and the potential for making significant advances in our knowledge of marine mammals rather than on the results per se. The winner of the award will be announced at the awards session on the last afternoon of the Biennial Conference. The award includes a monetary sum and a banquet ticket.

J. Stephen Leatherwood Memorial Award

Stephen Leatherwood was a vocal advocate for and a strong supporter of regionally driven research in the Asia. In 1994, Stephen facilitated the establishment of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong (OPCFHK), which provides funds to conservation-based research projects within Asia, with a particular emphasis on marine mammals. As a result of this support, our knowledge of Asian marine mammals has improved tremendously. The Stephen Leatherwood Memorial Award was established in 2007 to promote Steve’s desire to further marine mammal conservation in Asia by recognising the most outstanding research presentation on Asian marine mammals. To be considered for this award, the primary author must indicate his/her wish to be considered when submitting an abstract. A dedicated award panel, comprising Steve’s colleagues and experts in conservation and Asian research, assess all presenters who consider themselves eligible for the award. Judges focus on the conservation value of the research and the benefits of supporting researchers from developing countries  in Asia. OPCFHK fund this award in Steve’s honour and also provide student travel grants to eligible presenters. Student travel grants are assessed by the Awards Committee. In 2017, travel grants were awarded to:

Divya Panicker

Presentation: Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea) estuary use patterns in Kochi Harbour, India

Long Vu

Presentation: Potential of using pinger as cetacean by-catch mitigation in Vietnam: What meta-analysis can tell us?

IFAW Award for Welfare and Conservation

In 2013, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) sponsored a USD10,000 award for the best research presented at the biennial conference on animal welfare and conservation. The inaugural winner was Dr Simon Allen (Australia) for his research talk entitled “Incidental dolphin capture and bycatch mitigation in a Western Australian trawl fishery”.