Darwin Medal

The Darwin Medal, the most prestigious award given by the International Society for Reef Studies, is presented every four years at the International Coral Reef Symposium. It is awarded to a senior ISRS member who is recognized worldwide for major contributions throughout her/his career.

The recipient of the 2012 ISRS Darwin Medal is Prof. Jeremy B. C. Jackson

Professor Jeremy Jackson is a world leader in the science of conservation of coral reefs and coastal marine ecosystems. Jeremy's latest research has focussed on the investigation of human historical impacts on marine ecosystems. His paper entitled "Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems" has been cited more than 2000 times in the scientific literature, and has been the subject of hundreds of media accounts in major print media, radio, and television. He is the author of more than 150 publications and seven books. He has also pioneered long term observations and experiments to assess the comparative importance of larval recruitment, competition for space and food, predation, and environmental perturbations as determinants of reef community development and succession.

The Darwin Medal will be awarded at the upcoming 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, in Cairns. Professor Jackson will deliver the Darwin Lecture on Friday, July 13th.

Notes for nominations

All nominations should be forwarded to the ISRS Council. Candidates will be judged primarily on their scientific excellence though their service to coral reef research and its dissemination will be taken into account. Darwin medalists are invited to give a plenary address reviewing their field (the Darwin Lecture) and also submit an account of the address in the journal 'Coral Reefs.'

i) All nominators should ensure that their nominees are current members of the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS). Enquiries to this end can be made via Rupert Ormond [rupert.ormond.mci@gmail.com] who holds an up-to-date list of current members. Non-members of ISRS cannot be considered for the award.

ii) All nominators should approach their proposed candidates before nomination to ensure that they are prepared to stand.

iii) It is recommended that nominators request an up-to-date curriculum vitae and statement from their candidate on what he/she believes that they have accomplished before writing the supporting statement which should be a comprehensive assessment of their scientific career, including a synthesis of their publication record.

Previous Recipients of the Darwin Medal:


Professor Terry Hughes - 2008 (11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft Lauderdale)

Professor Terry Hughes is one of today’s most prominent coral reef scientists, reflected in his award of the ISRS 2008 Darwin Medal. Terry’s impressive publication record, his seminal contributions to coral reef ecology which have become classics in the field, his outstanding ability to obtain impressive national and international competitive research funding and direct large-scale research programmes, his collaboration with colleagues, both nationally and overseas, his pioneering innovative approaches to assessing coral reef resilience and scientifically underpinning the management of coral reefs, his admirable teaching career, during which he trained and supervised a large number of post-doctoral students, his tireless extracurricular activities to increase public and government awareness world-wide of the global problem of the acute degradation of coral reefs and the urgent need to conserve their biodiversity, all point to his remarkable international scientific leadership in the field of coral reefs.

As Advisory, Topic and Managing Editor of Coral Reefs for ten years, he also contributed hugely to the success of the journal, for which he was presented with an Exceptional Service Award in 2000 by ISRS.

Dr. J. E. N. (Charlie) Veron - 2004 (10th International Coral Reef Symposium, Okinawa)

Dr. J. E. N. (Charlie) Veron’s contributions to coral reef studies have been considerable. For decades, shelves from the world’s mightiest universities and museums to the smallest out of the way field stations have bowed under the weight of his works. The weightiest of these is the three volume book Corals of the World (2000), a production that is not only an invaluable scientific treatise and a practical identification guide, but also a work of art, and a compelling conservation statement delivered at a time of dire need for coral reefs under pressure worldwide. The companion CD-ROM Coral ID (2001) puts species level coral identification in the hands of the field researcher, removing one of the most daunting barriers to ecological studies.

Charlie Veron has been working on reef corals for 35 years, and has studied taxonomy, systematics, biogeography, palaeontology, ecology and evolutionary theory of corals. His most significant achievements include discovery of 21% of all coral species, publications of descriptions, maps and photographs of all coral species in the world, and linking taxonomy and molecular science through evolutionary theory. Much of Veron’s unflagging hard work is motivated by his deep concern over human-induced deterioration of reefs. For much of his working life – especially in recent years - he has been deeply involved in planning activities of international, government, and non-government conservation organisations.

Professor Yossi Loya - 2000 (9th International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali)

Professor Yossi Loya has made many fundamental contributions to reef science. His early work on the community structure and species diversity of Red Sea reefs formed the foundation for many modern reef studies. In particular, the line-transect methodology he adopted has been widely used worldwide. He also pioneered investigations of reef-community dynamics through the exhaustive study of life-history strategies of important reef-building species, highlighting the contrasting reproductive strategies of Red Sea corals with those from the Great Barrier Reef.

His studies on the effects of chronic oil pollution demonstrated the potentially damaging influence of oil for the first time, while sclerochronology of contemporary and fossil Red Sea corals elegantly identified the previous climatology of the Sinai Desert. More recently he, and his research group, have made important contributions to bioerosion studies of coral reefs, to intra-colonial transport of carbon and its regulation as well as to interactions between elevated sea temperature and bacterial disease in the Mediterranean coral Oculina patogonica.

Dr. Ian G. MacIntyre - 1996 (8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama)

Dr. Ian G. MacIntyre is the third recipient of the Charles Darwin Medal. His scientific contributions are diverse and have resulted in new and important understanding in the areas of submarine cementation, sea level history, bioerosion, diagenesis of reef carbonates, sclerochronology, coral growth in relation to water motion and irradiance fields, skeletal diagenesis in calcareous algae, and the formation of stromatolites, mangrove peat deposits, and algal ridges.

After eight years of experience in exploration geology, he earned a Ph.D. in geology at McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 1967. His doctoral research focused on the growth history of submerged coral reefs of the west coast of Barbados, West Indies. This line of research, including studies of the low temperature tolerances of living reef-building corals, was extended to the continental margin of the southeastern United States while Ian was a member of the research staff at the Duke University Marine Laboratory from 1967 to 1970. Dr. MacIntyre moved to the Smithsonian Institution in 1970 where he is currently a Division Supervisor in Sedimentology, in the Department of Paleobiology. He was one of the first to recognize the key role of submarine lithification in coral reefs. He also pioneered a new approach in the 1970s to reveal the internal structure of coral reefs through the use of diver-operated hydraulic drill. This new direction sparked similar studies of Holocene reef growth worldwide.

Besides such various direct contributions to reef research, Dr. MacIntyre has also greatly facilitated advances in reef science as president of ISRS (1983-1986), Geological Editor of Coral Reefs, leader of field trips for the 1977 and 1996 International Coral Reef Symposia, and most recently as Editor of the Atoll Research Bulletin. It is altogether fitting that Ian MacIntyre receive the Charles Darwin Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to reef science and exemplary service to ISRS.

Dr. Peter W. Glynn - 1992 (7th International Coral Reef Symposium, Guam)

Dr. Peter W. Glynn has had a distinguished scientific career, making many significant contributions to the ecology of coral reefs. His first work on coral reefs was in Puerto Rico where he developed a budget of plankton uptake (consumption) by coral reef communities at La Parguera. Later achievements included the discovery of well-developed coral reefs in the eastern Pacific and their subsequent ecological study; establishing the ecological significance of crustacean symbionts which defend pocilloporid corals from Acanthaster attack, and being the first scientist to relate coral bleaching and mortality with elevated sea temperatures. His publications in the latter field have been extensive and include numerous reviews, papers documenting empirical findings and a book entitled "Global Ecological Consequences of the 1982-83 El-Nino Southern Oscillation," which was published by Elsevier. Dr. Glynn is probably the only reef scientist to have received the "Best Paper Award" for papers published in Coral Reefs on two occasions.

Dr. David Stoddart - 1988 (Inaugural recipient)

Dr. David Stoddart was the first person to be awarded the Darwin medal by ISRS. He was the key energizer of the international coral reef symposia, a founding member and initiator of the ISRS, its first President, and subsequently coordinating editor of Coral Reefs.

Dr. Stoddart has made significant contributions in all the major reef provinces of the world, describing reef environments both in the context of twentieth century developments in geological and ecological thought and through re-evaluation of historical descriptions of reefs. His work has been characterized by careful field observations and by an ability to consider the interplay of the different time and spaial scales of controlling processes, including an appreciation of environmental variability and the role of extreme events. He has made major contributions to the understanding of sea level dynamics on Pleistocene, Holocene, and historical time scales; to ocean basin biogeography; to coral island floristics and ecology; and to the history of coral reef science. He has also made notable contributions to coral conservation, most particularly in the saving of Aldabra Atoll for science for which he received the OBE from HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1979.