Awards & Honors: Ecological Society of America (ESA) Awards

The Awards Committee of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) solicits and encourages nominations from members of ESA for each of the awards listed below.

ESA especially encourages nominations of candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.

In preparing a nomination, it would be helpful to consult with the chair of the specific award subcommittee (e-mails below) or the Awards Committee Chair: Dr. Jonathan Levine (E-mail:

These awards are considered Prestigious or Highly Prestigious by the National Research Council (NRC).

Deadline: October 15, 2017

Eminent Ecologist Award

  • The Eminent Ecologist Award is given to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding body of ecological work or of sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Recipients receive lifetime active membership in the Society.
  • Recent recipients include Thomas G. Whitham, Robert J. Naiman, William Reiners, Jane Lubchenco, and Eric Pianka.
  • For more information about the award, please contact Robert Holt, Chair (2012–2017), Eminent Ecologist Award Subcommittee (E-mail:

George Mercer Award

  • The Mercer Award is given for an outstanding ecological research paper published by a younger researcher (the lead author must be 40 years of age or younger at the time of publication).
  • If the award is given for a paper with multiple authors, all authors will receive a plaque, and those 40 years of age or younger at the time of publication will share the monetary prize.
  • Nomination letters should include the birth date(s) of the eligible author(s) and explain the novelty and importance of the paper.
  • The paper must have been published in 2015 or 2016 to be eligible for this year’s award. Recent recipients include Tracy Langkilde, Carla Staver and Sally Archibald, Pieter Johnson and Jason Hoverman, and Douglas Rasher.
  • For more information about the award, please contact Meghan Duffy, Chair (2016-2018), Mercer Award Subcommittee (E-mail:

Robert H MacArthur Award

  • The Robert H. MacArthur Award is given to an established ecologist in mid-career for meritorious contributions to ecology, in the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research and who generally are within 20 year from PhD.
  • This award is given in alternate years, and the recipient is invited to address the membership at the Annual Meeting following his/her selection.
  • Recent recipients include Monica Turner, Stephen W. Pacala, Anthony R. Ives, and Mercedes Pascual.
  • For more information about the award, contact Tony Ives, Chair (2015-2018), Robert H. MacArthur Award Subcommittee (E-mail:

Innovation in Sustainability Science Award

  • The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award is given to the authors of a peer-review paper published in the past five years that exemplifies leading edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges.
  • The award recognizes that the application of sustainability science is enabled by linking ecological science with advances in other biophysical disciplines, engineering, the social sciences (e.g., economics, anthropology, public policy, governance), and other fields.
  • The award recognizes higher risk ideas that are yet to be fully tested but hold great promise for achieving a sustainable world.
  • For more information about the award, please contact Kay Gross, Chair (2014-2017), Sustainability Science Award Subcommittee (E-mail:

William Skinner Cooper Award
Highly Prestigious

  • The W. S. Cooper Award is given to honor an outstanding contributor to the fields of geobotany and/or physiographic ecology, the fields in which W. S. Cooper worked.
  • This award is for a single contribution in a scientific publication (single or multiple authored).
  • Recent recipients include K. Boyce and colleagues, J. A. Thompson and colleagues, S.L. Wing and colleagues, and C.D. Brown and M. Vellend.
  • For more information about the award, please contact Dan Gavin, Chair (2015–2018), Cooper Award Subcommittee (E-mail:

Nomination Process and Schedule

  • Nominations for awards to authors for specific publications (George Mercer Award, W. S. Cooper Award, Sustainability Science Award) should include a letter of nomination with the full citation, and a copy of the publication (electronic if possible).
  • To be given full consideration, nominations for awards should be completed by October 15.
  • We welcome nominations that reflect the diversity of the Society’s membership.
  • A nomination should be submitted as a single PDF file to E-mail: with the name of the award in the subject line.


For questions or more information, contact the ESA at 202-833-8773 or