Forces of Nature


We’re all about loving animals this week, which is the Indianapolis Zoological Society’s forever vibe. This week they announced the six finalists in contention for the 2020 Indianapolis Prize honoring wildlife conservationists, biologists, and scientists working to save animal species from extinction. 

“The rate at which animal extinctions have occurred over the last century is at least 100 times higher than what can be considered natural. More than one million animal species are now threatened with extinction. We can all find hope and inspiration in the victories of these conservationists who do the difficult work of saving animal species,” Dr. Rob Shumaker, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, said in a press release. “The Indianapolis Prize exists to celebrate and elevate the achievements of these heroic individuals. Their work proves that success is possible, and there are genuine reasons to be hopeful for the future of the natural world.”  

The winner will receive $250,000 and the other five finalists will get $10,000 each. Here are the three highly impressive women vying for the top honor.

Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. (Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc.; Mission Blue; SEAlliance)

How cool would it be to walk untethered on the ocean floor? Because Dr. Earle’s done it at the deepest point of any other human being as she researched and monitored sea life. Clocking in over 7000 hours underwater, she’s created a global network of marine preserves she calls “hope spots” and generally sounds super rad.

Amanda Vincent, Ph.D. (The University of British Columbia, Project Seahorse)

As director and co-founder of Project Seahorse, Dr. Vincent has fought to preserve the world’s oceans leading to regulations on international trade of marine fishes and the protection of underwater ecosystems. She was also the very first scientist to study seahorses underwater—so she’s truly a pioneer.

Dee Boersma, Ph.D. (University of Washington; Ecosystem Sentinels)

Dr. Boersma’s work focuses on penguins—we dare say, one of the most adorable animals around. She’s successfully stopped penguin harvesting, gotten oil tankers redirected away from penguin colonies, and researched the effects of environmental change on Galápagos penguins. 

Kudos, ladies! The winner will be announced later this spring and feted at the Indianapolis Prize Gala on Sept. 12, 2020.

Abby Gardner is the executive editor of Indy Maven and would have loved being a marine biologist in another life. 

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