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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 Zoo.

At the close of the application period, all nomination applications are reviewed for completeness and qualification requirements by the Nominating 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" E. Game, Senior Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

  • Dr. Leah R. Gerber, Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Science, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

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

  • Ms. Lisa C. McKinney, Partner, Bose McKinney & Evans (Indianapolis Zoo Board Representative)

  • Dr. Robert Shumaker, Supervising Vice President, Conservation, Science and Education, Indianapolis Zoo (Staff Liaison)

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

  • Dr. Chris Wemmer, Honorary Fellow, California Academy of Sciences, Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian National Zoological Park

  • Ms. Susan Williams, Community Leader (Community Representative)

  • Dr. Gwen White, Science Coordinator, Eastern Tallgrass Prairie & Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative, US Fish & Wildlife Service[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. Benjamin B. Beck, Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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

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

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

  • Mr. Paul Grayson, Deputy Director, Indianapolis Zoo (Staff Liaison)

  • Mr. David L. Johnson, President and CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnerships, Inc. and Bio Crossroads (Community Representative)

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

  • Ms. Myrta Pulliam, Director, Special Projects, Star Media (Indianapolis Zoo Board Representative)

  • 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]