Inter-Conference Awards

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 award recipient will be invited to deliver a plenary lecture at the conference and to write an associated paper for Marine Mammal Science.

Nominees for the Norris award are provided by the Society’s President, President-elect, Scientific Advisors Committee Chair, and journal Editor. The award recipient is to be 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:

The Society for Marine Mammalogy Conservation Merit Prize

The Society for Marine Mammalogy Conservation Merit Prize gives public recognition to a person, team, or organization contributing toward solving a pressing conservation problem for marine mammals, either ongoing or resulting in a conservation success.  This year’s prize goes to Dr. Alexandros A. Karamanlidis for his exceptional work with the Mediterranean monk seal. This highly endangered species is spread across many national borders and faces many conservation challenges. He and his colleagues at the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm) have served as a fundamental anchor point for the many international efforts that have taken place in recent years to prevent extinction of this species. Dr. Karamanlidis will accept his award at the upcoming Biennial Conference.

Dr. Alexandros A. Karamanlidis is a Greek/Dutch wildlife conservationist with a BSc in Biology and Physical Education from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, an MSc in Conservation Biology from the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, and a PhD from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. His career has embraced the study and protection of both large terrestrial carnivores in Europe and the endangered Mediterranean monk seal in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The latter work has been done via the MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk seal, in which Dr. Karamanlidis has been a member for the past 15 years. This grass roots, non-governmental organization is dedicated specifically to the conservation of this seal species. Dr. Karamanlidis’s research broadly concerns the ecology and behavior of the Mediterranean monk seal, with a particular focus on conservation genetics. His team’s efforts have resulted in more than 25 scientific publications that have played a significant role in the re-evaluation of the Mediterranean monk seal by the IUCN. Thankfully, a host of conservation efforts aided by MOm/Hellenic Society has led to the “down-listing” of the species from Critically Endangered to Endangered as of 2015. The research efforts of Dr. Karamanlidis have been supported by grants from National Geographic Society and the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and his work has been featured by BBC Earth (2010, 2011) and the New Scientist (2016) in recent years. Dr. Karamanlidis currently serves on the IUCN Pinniped, Otter and Brown Bear Specialist Groups.

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: Julie van der Hoop

Paper: 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 that describes innovative research related to marine mammal habitat and ecosystem conservation. The Award was established in honor of John Twiss Jr., who was the first Executive Director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. John Twiss was dedicated to the conservation of marine ecosystems and conservation of marine mammals from several decades, and placed a high priority on encouraging students to become involved. 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

Paper: 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. The 2016 Conference Award Winners 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)

Best Overall Presentation - 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. 


The Emily B Shane Award

The Emily B. Shane Award (EBS) supports conservation-oriented, non-harmful field research on free-ranging Odontocetes and Sirenians.  The award honours Emily B. Shane (1924-1995), a fine amateur naturalist and dedicated conservationist.  Funds are awarded to projects with clear conservation priorities for an odontocete or sirenian species, population, or habitat critical to the species.  Research that also impacts a local human community in terms of increased public awareness, capacity building, or education may be given special consideration.  The award amount is US$10,000 and the award committee may opt to divide this between two or more applicants. In 2016, the award winners were:

Shambhu Paudel

Understanding the effects of artisanal fishing on the ecology of Ganges River dolphin in Nepal

Federico Secunza

Filling a Conservation Gap: Bycatch estimates of the Franciscana dolphin in southern Brazil


The John Heyning Award

This grant is presented in accordance with the last wishes of John E. Heyning, (Curator of Mammals and Associate Deputy Director of Research and Collections, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, California). His research focused on the natural history, anatomy, evolution and conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises, especially delphinids and ziphiids. The award is presented to the best proposal received from an established researcher to investigate any area of cetacean integrative biology and comparative studies that relate diverse aspects of biology within an evolutionary context. A single biennial grant of up to $5,000 is awarded and the grant is open to all established researchers who are members of the Society (students are not eligible). The John E. Heyning Award wnner in 2017 is Rachel. A. Racicot for her proposal entitled Predicting hearing sensibilities of beaked whales using inner ear morphology.


Innes Memorial Student Travel Bursary

Dr. Stu Innes 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 Stu, friends and colleagues established the “Innes Memorial Student Travel Bursary” to help support a student’s travel to this conference. Students who are presenting work conducted on any aspect of marine mammal research in the Arctic are eligible. The 2017 winner is

Charmain Hamilton

Presentation: Impacts of sea-ice declines on a pinnacle Arctic predator-prey relationship; habitat, behaviour and spatial overlap between coastal polar bears and ringed seals.


J. Stephen Leatherwood Memorial Award (Travel Grant)

Stephen Leatherwood was a vocal advocate for and a strong supporter of regionally driven research in the Asian region. In 1994, Stephen facilitated the establishment of the Ocean Park Conservation Research Fund (OPCFHK) which provides funds to conservation-based research projects within the Asian region, with a particular emphasis on marine mammals. OPCFHK fund the Memorial Award in Steve’s honour and also provide travel grants to student presenters who are eligible for this award.  These travel grants are assessed by the Awards and Scholarship Committee. The 2017 Stephen Leatherwood 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?



Awards Presented at the Conference

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 presentation types 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 aims to emphasis innovative methodology and the potential for making significant advances in our knowledge of marine mammals.

J. Stephen Leatherwood Memorial Award (Presentation)

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, with a particular emphasis on conservation. 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 only those researchers who are considered “financially-challenged” may win the award. The winner is announced at the Awards Ceremony.  

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”. The Awards Committee and a small team of dedicated judges shall assess all eligible presentations and the winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony.

SMM Student Awards

Now that abstracts have been scored and presentations allocated, the work of the Awards Committee gets into gear! The judging criteria for student awards consist of three main components “impact”, “scientific content” and “presentation style”. Impact will consider knowledge, novelty and visual impact. Scientific content will consider hypothesis development, methodology and conclusions and considered in the context of the existing state of knowledge. Presentation considers if the title and abstract truly reflect the content and results of the given presentation, as well as organisation, ease of understanding and the presenters spoken clarity, confidence and enthusiasm.  Each student spoken presentation will be assessed on site by a minimum of three judges. Uploaded posters will be assessed online and further assessed, again by a minimum of three judges, at the session during which the author verbally presents the poster. All scores will be normalised and the top student selected from each category.  In Halifax 2017, students will be assessed for the following awards;

Best Doctoral student oral presentation.
Best Pre-Doctoral student oral presentation.
Best Doctoral student poster presentation.
Best Pre-Doctoral student poster presentation.
Best Doctoral student speed talk.
Best Pre-Doctoral student speed talk 

New for 2017

Best Video presentation (open to all). 

Audience Popular Vote will be determined by audience voting via the conference app (open to all).

Conference Management Software by X-CD Technologies Inc.