Breaking News
More () »

Emerging Conservationist Award 10 finalists announced

The award recognizes conservationists under 40 years of age "with the talent and drive to make a significant impact on saving an animal species or group of species."

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Prize released a list of the 10 Finalists for the Emerging Conservationist Award this morning.

The Emerging Conservationist award is a biennial award that recognizes conservationists under 40 years of age "with the talent and drive to make a significant impact on saving an animal species or group of species."

The field will be narrowed to the top 3 before a winner will be chosen from those finalists. 

The inaugural Emerging Conservationist Award Winner will be announced in April 2023 and will be recognized at the 2023 Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc. in downtown Indianapolis on Sept. 30, 2023.

“The Emerging Conservationist Award supports the next generation of conservationists who are actively making a positive difference for the future of biodiversity,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, President & CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. “These Finalists, along with all of the Prize honorees, share a deep commitment to protecting nature and inspiring people to care for our world.”

The winner will receive a $50,000 award to further their conservation work.

Here is a list of the 10 finalists:

Alejandro Arteaga (Tropical Herping, Ecuador) 

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Alejandro Arteaga is a biologist, conservationist and wildlife photographer. Arteagaco-founded Tropical Herping, a tour agency that offers nature photography trips and tours throughout the tropics. His research is focused ontropical amphibians and reptiles. He has discovered and described 20 new species to science and raised funds to save 106 hectares of Chocó rainforest in Ecuador.

Sergio A. Balaguera-Reina, Ph.D. (University of Florida–Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, USA)

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Dr. Sergio Balaguera-Reina is a conservation biologist focused on understanding the roles that crocodile species play in aquatic and coastal systems. Dr. Balaguera-Reina also develops conservation plans that provide support for other species as well as the habitats and landscapes that they inhabit.  

Fanny M. Cornejo (Rainforest Partnership, USA; Yunkawasi, Peru)

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Fanny Cornejo is a primatologist, anthropologist and the director of Rainforest Partnership, an organization responsible for working with Amazonian and Andean communities to provide technical support and educate others on natural resources and human populations. Fanny is also the executive director of Yunkawasi, an organization focused on advancing conservation in Peru.  

Akbar John, Ph.D. (Institute of Oceanography and Maritime Studies, INOCEM; International Islamic University Malaysia, IIUM, Malaysia) 

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Dr. Akbar John is an associate professor and conservation scientist focused on advancing the science and conservation of horseshoe crabs in Southeast Asia. Dr. John is responsible for establishing a facility to track global horseshoe crab biology, which serves as a referral source for future research on horseshoe crabs.

Corinne J. Kendall, Ph.D. (North Carolina Zoo, USA) 

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Dr. Corinne Kendall launched the first effort to protect vultures in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Dr. Kendall is the founder of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ African Vulture Saving Animals from Extinction program, which has developed a tool for discovering poaching and poisoning activities in real-time, based on the movements of vultures fitted with satellite tracking tags.

Arthur Bienvenu Muneza, Ph.D. (Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Africa)

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Dr. Arthur Muneza is a wildlife ecologist investigating a variety of factors affecting the survival and reproduction of giraffe populations across East Africa by calculating population, mapping disease ecology, assessing sources of mortality and evaluating predatory interactions with lions.

Megan Murgatroyd, Ph.D. (HawkWatch International, USA) 

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Dr. Megan Murgatroyd is a conservation biologist focused on understanding and conserving the world’s most understudied and threatened raptors globally. Dr. Murgatroyd investigates the impacts of land-use change on Verreaux’s Eagles and implements GPS tracking to understand and predict wind turbine collision risk for Verreaux’s Eagles.

Nguyen Van Thai (Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Vietnam) 

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Nguyen Thai is the founder of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, which works to halt the extinction and champion the recovery of threatened species in Vietnam such as the critically endangered pangolin. He established Vietnam’s first anti-poaching units, which have destroyed 9,701 animal traps, dismantled 775 illegal camps, confiscated 78 guns,and arrested 558 people for poaching, leading to a significant decline in illegal activities in PúMát National Park.  

Olivier Nsengimana (Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, Rwanda) 

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Olivier Nsengimana is responsible for designing and implementing aconservation project to save the endangered grey-crowned crane. He established a database of illegally kept cranes in Rwanda, which led to 233 cranes being freed and 160 of those individuals being reintroduced to the wild.  A licensed veterinarian, Nsengimana is the founder and director of the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, an organization working to expand research and conservation connected to endangered or threatened species in Rwanda.

Stephanie Vaz Nogueira Campos (Federal University of Riode Janeiro, Brazil)

Credit: Indianapolis Prize

Stephanie Vaz is an entomologist dedicated to firefly conservation. She is responsible for describing dozens of firefly species and providing tools and resources to facilitate firefly identification in the Neotropics. She discovered past conservation components were not protecting firefly populations from light pollution.

For more information on the Emerging Conservationist Award, click here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out