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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Judging Process

Selecting the finalists and winner for the Indianapolis Prize is an intense two-step judging structure undertaken by the Prize Nominating Committee and Jury, both committed to honoring a hero in the world of wildlife.

Each committee consists of nine different individuals, from across the globe, who are representative of the scientific and conservation sector, the Indianapolis community and the Indianapolis Zoological Society.

At the close of the application period, all nomination applications are reviewed for completeness and qualification requirements by the Steering Committee. Once the nominee list is final the Nominating Committee begins the first round of discussion.

In closed deliberation, the Nomination Committee members have roughly three months to thoughtfully review the materials and determine the six individuals who will advance to the level of finalist. Once chosen the Jury then analyses the six finalists' work, in a second closed deliberation spanning three months, to select the award recipient.

The Nominating Committee and the Jury utilize the following criteria to give thorough consideration to the nominee's scientific impact and sustainable conservation methods:

  1. The significance of an achievement or achievements in the conservation of an animal species or multiple species;
  2. The measurable outcomes resulting from the Nominee's work;
  3. The quality of science involved;
  4. The number of years the individual has dedicated to the aspect of conservation work under evaluation;
  5. The unselfish dedication to conservation work that the individual has shown throughout his or her career;
  6. The spirit of cooperation the individual has demonstrated with zoological and other like-minded conservation institutions, especially those not directly affiliated with any organization for which the Nominee works.​

Indianapolis Prize Nominating Committee and Jury 2016 

As the Indianapolis Prize celebrates its 10th year, many of the world’s most distinguished scientists and conservation leaders commit their support to honoring a hero in the world of wildlife. 


  • Dr. Edward "Eddie" T. Game, Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

  • Dr. Leah R. Gerber, Director, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University​

  • Mr. Charles Knowles, President and Co-Founder, Wildlife Conservation Network

  • Ms. Lisa C. McKinney, Partner, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

  • Dr. Robert Shumaker, Executive Vice President & Zoo Director, Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. 

  • Dr. Tara Stoinski, President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

  • Dr. Chris Wemmer, Honorary Fellow, California Academy of Sciences, Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

  • Dr. Gwen White, Science Coordinator, Eastern Tallgrass Prairie & Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative, US Fish & Wildlife Service

  • Ms. Susan Williams, Community Leader


Want to know what it's like to serve on the Indianapolis Prize Jury?  Read this interesting article featuring MosesOkello  relating his experience helping to select the winner of the 2012 Prize.

  • Dr. Benjamin B. Beck, Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian National Zoological Park 

  • Dr. Mark Burgman, FAA, Adrienne Clarke Chair of Botany, School of BioSciences​, University of Melbourne

  • Dr. Onnie Byers, Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission Conservation Breeding Specialist Group

  • Dr. John Francis, Former VP-Research, Conservation, and Exploration, National Geographic

  • Mr. Paul Grayson, Executive Vice President, Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. ​

  • Mr. David L. Johnson, President and CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnerships, Inc. and BioCrossroads

  • Dr. Hans Kruuk, Professor of Zoology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

  • Ms. Myrta J. Pulliam, Director, Special Projects, IndyStar

  • Dr. Patricia Wright, Professor, Executive Director and Founder, Center ValBio and the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stony Brook University; Winner of the 2014 Indianapolis Prize[close]

*Nominating Committee and Jury members change each Prize cycle. Selections have not been made for 2018.​​