Conference awards for SMM2021 will reflect the global nature of this years conference!



The student awards assessment at the 2019 World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona included regions in addition to presentation type, scientific content and impact. This recognition of students’ achievements around the globe received much positive feedback so we shall, again, incorporate regions as part of our assessment framework for the SMM2021 student awards. As such, abstract submission will have a few additional fields, asking for the location from which the presentation data was derived, the home country of the primary author and the institute or entity that supported the work. If the work is of a global or multi-national origin, don’t worry, we shall ensure there are sufficient options in the abstract submission form to capture multi-institutional research. If you have any questions about student awards and how to describe the location or nature of your presentation, please ask the awards committee anytime (

All abstracts are assessed by the conference organizing committee and their review panel but, did you know that your actual presentation is assessed independently during the conference? A team of over 100 judges evaluate every single student presentation, of all formats, against a set of criteria and submit their scores to the awards committee. These scores are used to guide selection of the winners of each category. At SMM2021, judges will assess student presentations using the following five criteria;

  • Scientific impact, e.g., do we know something now that we did not know before
  • Scientific content, e.g., contains sound logical arguments
  • Presentation, e.g., do the title and abstract reflect the presentation content; is the organization clear?
  • Sensory Impact, e.g., design, imagery, audio; good balance of composition?
  • And finally, Conference Theme, presentations that clearly articulate how the work contributes to the conference theme; A Sea Change: transforming science into stewardship OR if the work is intrinsically multi-disciplinary in nature, for example, a collaboration between social and biological sciences, the student will be considered for the “Hey Wow” Award, a special award that recognizes work that truly rocks the award committee’s world!

To be clear, student presentations of all themes, from all parts of this blue planet, are eligible for student award consideration, however, we are particularly keen to recognize student work that can or has the potential to make a sea change. Please highlight this in your abstract and presentation content if you feel your work fulfils this specific criterion.


There are several other awards presented at the conference or for conference travel, please check if you are eligible and what abstract submission details are required by checking the following text:


The conference app will provide an option for all conference participants to choose their favourite daily presentation. This is open to all presenters and the judges are the audience themselves!


The award commemorates one of the giants of marine mammal science, the late Dr. Frederic Fairfield, a marine mammal scientist who had a passion for innovative research methods. This award, therefore, recognizes students who have developed or applied pioneering techniques or research tools for studying marine mammals. The winner will be determined based on the submitted abstract, with an emphasis placed on the innovation of the methodology of the study and the potential it may have for making significant advances in our knowledge of marine mammals. This award is open to all students and students must stipulate during abstract submission they wish to be considered for this award. All presentation formats are eligible and data may be derived from the field, the laboratory or both. A small panel of previous Fairfield winners judge the presentations and select the winner this award. There may be more than one winner. (Note: individuals who are directly involved with the establishment or funding of this award are not eligible for assessment).


This year, in memory of John Reynolds, a Past President of the Society of Marine Mammalogy and Chairman of the USA Marine Mammal Commission, there will be a special award given to the best presentation on Sirenia. John instigated the Manatee Research Programme of Mote Marine Lab, Florida (USA) and his work provides the basis of much of our scientific understanding of this unique order of mammals.
The SMM2021 John Reynolds Sirenian Award is open to all presenters and all presentation types that focus on any Sirenian, anywhere in the world. Presentations that demonstrate clear benefits to conservation and education will be given a high priority.
PLEASE NOTE: Presenters DO NOT need to register for this award and all presentations that include Sirenia will be included in the award review process.


The late Dr. Steve Leatherwood contributed to global marine mammal science, however, he was particularly passionate about developing research in Asia. In recognition of this, the Leatherwood Award is given to the most outstanding presentation involving marine mammals of South and Southeast Asia. The award highlights those who have made a specific contribution to conservation and for whom the monetary prize will assist overcoming some of the challenges of working in an under-resourced environment. This award is open to all presenters who live and work in the Asian countries listed below[1]. All presentation formats are eligible. A small panel comprising scientists who work in conservation will assess presentations and select the winner.

[1] Eligible areas include the riverine and maritime areas of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China (including Taiwan), East Timor, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.


This award recognizes exceptional contributions to welfare and/or conservation through benign research, public involvement and/or education, e.g., work that demonstrates how new scientific techniques may directly benefit conservation and welfare in the future; or work that tackles an important conservation and welfare problem and highlights solutions.  This award is open to all presenters and presenters but the desire to be considered must be stipulated during abstract submission. All presentation formats are eligible, however, only research categorised as benign will be considered. A small panel of animal welfare practitioners and scientists who have contributed to conservation will assess the presentations for this award and recommend a winner to the Awards Committee. (Note: individuals who are directly involved with or are employed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare are not eligible for this award. If you are unsure of eligibility, please contact