Fossey Fund News

November 8, 2013

Fossey Fund Chief Scientist Prestigious Prize Nominee

Tara Stoinski, Ph.D., with Ozzie at Zoo AtlantaTara Stoinski, Ph.D., vice president and chief scientist at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, is among the nominees for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, which is the world’s leading award for individuals working in animal conservation.

The 39 nominees for the 2014 biennial prize include such notable conservation heroes as Jane Goodall, Ph.D., Birute Galdikas, Ph.D.,  and  Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D., who study a broad range of species from gorillas to sea turtles to bats and swans.  Nominees will be reviewed by two international committees and narrowed down to six finalists.

“It is notable that all of the great apes are represented in the work of this year’s nominees,” says Stoinski, referring to the inclusion of Goodall (chimpanzees); Galdikas (orangutans); Gay Reinartz, Ph.D. (bonobos); and herself.  “It reflects the critical status of these species and the challenges they still face, as well as the decades of extraordinary studies already undertaken.”

The Indianapolis Prize, undertaken by the Indianapolis Zoological Society (IZS), was first awarded in 2006. It now includes a substantial cash award, with funding provided by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

Michael Crowther, president of IZS, is a board member of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, but is not involved in the selection of the Indianapolis Prize recipients.  Crowther noted:  “I have observed Tara’s important contributions to our understanding of gorilla behavior and the significance of those contributions to their conservation.  She is clearly a difference-maker and a role model for other conservation scientists. She certainly belongs in the company of those nominated for the world’s leading award for animal conservation.”

The 2006 Indianapolis Prize went to George Archibald, Ph.D.,  co-founder of the International Crane Foundation. In 2008, the prize went to George Schaller, Ph.D., a pre-eminent field biologist whose early work with gorillas laid the foundation for Dian Fossey’s studies and the subsequent four decades of mountain gorilla protection by the Fossey Fund.   The 2010 winner was Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D.  Steve Amstrup, Ph.D., chief scientist of Polar Bears International, received the 2012 prize.

"All the nominees and winners are ‘rock stars’ of conservation,” says Stoinski. “The Indy Prize recognizes them for their work and the personal sacrifices they have made in their lives in order to carry out this work. It is such an honor to be nominated with this amazing group of people.”

“Since our founder Dian Fossey was killed in the line of duty in 1986, we are lucky to have had outstanding scientists like Dr. Stoinski to continue her extraordinary work,” says Clare Richardson, Fossey Fund president and CEO.

The Indianapolis Prize will be presented September 2014 in Indianapolis.

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