Ecological Society of America announces 2014 award recipients

ESA2014 Sacramento logo

99th Annual Meeting
The Ecological Society of America

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 15, 2014
Contact: Alison Mize (202) 833-8773 x205; gro.asenull@nosila
or Liza Lester (202) 833-8773 x211; gro.asenull@retsell


The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present ten awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society’s 99th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California. The awards ceremony will take place on Monday, August 11, at 8 AM in the historic Memorial auditorium near the Sacramento Convention Center. More information about ESA awards is available here.


W.S. Cooper Award: Scott Wing, Caroline Stromberg, Leo Hickey, Fleur Tiver, Brian Willis, Robyn Burnham, and Anna Behrensmeyer
The Cooper Award honors an outstanding contribution to the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. ESA recognizes Wing, with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and colleagues for their paperFloral and environmental gradients on a Late Cretaceous landscape,” published in Ecological Monographs. The study provides a unique insight into the ecological structure of a local community to understand large evolutionary, ecological, and biogeographic patterns from a single point in space and time.

George Mercer Award:Douglas Rasher
The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by a young scientist.Rasher, now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maine, provides rich new insights forthe management and conservation of coral reefs in his 2013 “Consumer diversity interacts with prey defenses to drive ecosystem function,” in Ecology. The study, which he conducted as a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, shows that interactions between algal defenses and herbivore tolerances create an essential role for consumer diversity in the functioning and resilience of coral reefs.

Robert T. MacArthur Award: Mercedes Pascual
The MacArthur Award recognizes mid-career ecologist for meritorious contributions to ecology with the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research. ESA recognizes Pascual, with the University of Michigan, for her contributions to the theory of food web structure; the ecology, spread and evolution of infectious diseases; and the development and application of novel computational methods for relating climate to disease. Throughout her career, Pascual also has devoted enormous energy to fostering diversity of ecological researchers in the US and mentoring junior researchers worldwide.

Eugene P. Odum Education Award:ManuelC.Molles,Jr.
The Eugene P. Odum Award recipients have demonstrated their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach and mentoring activities. ESA honors Molles, with the UniversityofNewMexico, for his outstanding contributions in science, service, and education for K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels. Using his writing gifts, he authored numerous publications including an acclaimed ecology textbook, Ecology: Concepts and Applications. Molles’ teaching philosophy fostered students’ critical and independent thinking. Many of his students’ pursued careers in ecology and also diversified into careers in environmental law, water resources management, and restoration ecology.

Eminent Ecologist Award:Jane Lubchenco
The Eminent Ecologist Award is given to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Lubchenco’s career spans from academia to distinguished public service. She has studied marine ecosystems around the world and championed the importance of science and its relevance to policy making and human well-being. From 2009–20013, she made history as the first woman under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. Lubchenco has served as president for the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Council for Science, and the Ecological Society of America, and was a member on the National Science Board for 10 years. She has received numerous awards including a MacArthur “genius” award and 18 honorary doctorates. Lubchenco co-founded three organizations (The Leopold Leadership Program, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea [COMPASS], and Climate Central) that aim to communicate scientific knowledge to the public, policy makers, media and industry; she also co-founded a research consortium, PISCO, which studies the near-shore ocean along the coasts of Oregon and California.

Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award: Charles Nilon
This ESA award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching or outreach. ESA honors Nilon, with the University of Missouri-Columbia, for his leadership in developing diversity-enhancing programs within the Ecological Society of America and working to improve minority access to all Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. His work illustrates the relationship between ecology, environmental justice and their impacts on disadvantaged communities.

Sustainability Science Award: Fikret Berkes
The Sustainability Award is given to the authors of a scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. Berkes, with the University of Manitoba, explores the importance of local and indigenous knowledge as a complement to scientific ecology and its cultural and political significance for indigenous groups in his book Sacred Ecology, Taylor and Francis, 2008.


To learn more about the August 10–15, 2014 ESA Annual Meeting see:

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and the trusted source of ecological knowledge.  ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth.  The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at or find experts in ecological science at