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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Judging Process

Selecting the Finalists and Winner of the Indianapolis Prize is an intense two-step judging structure undertaken by the Prize Nominating Committee and Jury,

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, Inc. 

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

In closed deliberation, 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 2018 

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


  • Steve Cagle: Trustee, Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc.​

  • Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz: Associate Professor, School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

  • Dr. Heather DeCaluwe: Society for Conservation Biology

  • Dr. Peter Etnoyer: Marine Biologist, NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

  • Michael Huber: President and CEO, Indy Chamber

  • Dr. Lynn Maguire: Professor of the Practice of Environmental Decision Analysis, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

  • Dr. Crickette Sanz: Associate Professor of Anthropology, Washington University

  • Michele Schilten: Director of Education and Conservation, Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc.

  • Dr. Richard Wrangham: Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University​ [close]


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. Jonathan Baillie: Chief Scientist, National Geographic

  • Dr. Kamaljit Bawa: Distinguished Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Dr. Paula Kahumbu: CEO, WildlifeDirect

  • Dr. Mark Penning: Chair, Field Conservation Committee, AZA; Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

  • Dr. Jeff Proudfoot: VP, Veterinary Sciences, Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc.

  • Myrta Pulliam: Director, Special Projects, IndyStar

  • Dr. Jon Paul Rodriguez: Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission

  • Cindy Simon Skjodt: Chairman, Samerian Foundation 

  • Dr. Christopher Wemmer: Honorary Fellow, California Academy of Sciences​​; Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute[close]