The Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2005 by then WSN president Mark Carr to honor an outstanding scientist who has been involved in WSN throughout their career and has made an exemplary life-long contribution to increasing our understanding of natural history.

  1. Nominations should be made by WSN members by e-mail to the current WSN President by July 1st with name and brief summary of why you think the candidate is deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
    1. The nomination should address how the candidate is an outstanding and prominent scientist in ecology/biology that has made an exemplary and life-long contribution to increasing our understanding of natural history.
    2. The candidate should be at or near retirement. Priority will be given to those who have already retired.
    3. Preference will be given to candidates that regularly attend WSN meetings.
  2. The selection committee is composed of the recent suite of WSN Presidents, including the current president, immediate past president, and president elect.
  3. The selection committee will review nominations in regards to the above criteria. The committee is encouraged to reserve the award for exemplary scientists and to consider diversity and inclusion in the selection process. The award does not need to be given every year.
  4. The recipient is not required to make a formal presentation but is asked to attend the annual society meeting so that they may be recognized and honored.

Photo credits: Jackie Sones and Eric Sanford

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Mark Hixon

Sidney & Erica Hsiao Endowed Professor of Marine Biology
University of Hawaii Manoa

Having studied kelp forest ecology in California as a graduate student, Mark originally began his research on the ecology of coral reefs as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Hawai`i from 1979 to 1981.  After another postdoc at U.C. Irvine (including studies of hummingbird ecology), he was a professor of marine ecology and conservation biology at Oregon State University from 1984 through 2012.  Mark’s research spans the behavioral, population, and community ecology of coastal marine fishes, increasingly in the context of conservation biology, and occasionally fisheries ecology.  More recently, he has focused on helping to conserve and restore the coral reefs themselves. His projects emphasize undersea research, especially involving controlled field experiments.  Mark has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on field projects in California, Oregon, Hawai`i, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, the Great Barrier Reef, and French Polynesia, including top ranked journals such as Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  His research has helped to clarify mechanisms that naturally regulate populations and sustain biodiversity in the sea, topics of vital importance to managing fisheries and conserving species. In 2004, Mark was honored by ISI Citation Index as the most cited scientific author in the Northern and Western Hemispheres regarding coral reef ecology during the past decade. A Fulbright Senior Scholar and Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow, Mark was honored in 2016 as a Fellow of the International Coral Reef Society.



Lisa Levin

Professor Emeritus
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

Lisa Levin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For over 40 years, Dr. Levin has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of the ecology and natural history of coastal and deep-sea habitats, beginning with her seminal graduate research on succession and competition in the infaunal communities of estuaries. She is one of the most productive and impactful marine scientists in the world, with over 300 publications; at the time of nomination, her work has been cited a staggering 37,300 times. Dr. Levin has held diverse leadership roles including Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and Oliver Chair at Scripps, as well as serving as an editor for a number of leading journals. She participated in or led 45 research cruises and is a leading voice for the sustainable management and protection of the deep sea, as well as for the restoration and conservation of threatened coastal environments.  She was awarded the American Association of Limnology and Oceanography’s Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, and received the Grand Medal in Ocean Science in 2019 from the Oceanographic Institute of the Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation. She has been an outstanding mentor and has trained a generation of students who continue to have an impact on the field, and who remain active in WSN.


George Somero

Professor Emeritus
Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford

George Somero is Professor Emeritus at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. Over his career he’s worked at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Oregon State University, and Stanford University.. He is an internationally renowned biochemical physiologist, with an acclaimed text on biochemical adaptation and 112 publications, among those he has at least two papers that been cited more than 4,000 times! His primary research focus has been to understand the physiological processes that allow marine organisms to tolerate and adapt to environmental stress. He began his research by studying fish that manage to survive in the freezing waters of Antarctica, and then moved on investigate deep-sea hydrothermal vent animals, and finally intertidal gastropods that can survive incredible temperature variation. George is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he served as director of Hopkins Marine Station for many years.


Michael Foster

Professor Emeritus
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Mike was faculty at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories for years before retiring in 2004. At MLML he acted as major adviser for more than 60 Masters students, many of whom went on to earn their Ph.D.’s. Alumni from his laboratory group now populate faculty and research positions internationally. Mike’s research focuses on the ecology and natural history of intertidal and subtidal communities, especially those along the coasts of California and Baja California. Among his best-known publications are major reviews concerning the structure and population biology of macroalgae. He has also authored and co-authored multiple books, among them a revision to E. Yale Dawson’s classic “Seashore Plants of California;” the highly cited monograph, “Giant Kelp Forests in California: A Community Profile;” and most recently in 2015, “The Biology and Ecology of Giant Kelp Forests.”  Mike has been an active member of WSN since 1969, often in a leadership role, and has served as WSN President, WSN Secretariat (for six years), and WSN Historian. The latter Society activities highlight Mike’s long-standing commitment to training and mentoring early career researchers, which represents perhaps his greatest professional legacy.


Robles.118162859_stdCarlos Robles

Emeritus Professor of Biology
California State University at Los Angeles

For four decades, Carlos has done exacting multifactor field experiments to understand how consumers shape rocky shore communities. His dissertation on the coast near San Francisco revealed how herbivorous marine insects impact succession in an assemblage of high intertidal algae. Later experiments on the California Channel Islands demonstrated that spiny lobsters (Panulirus interruptus) act as keystone predators in the intertidal community. In British Columbia, his large scale manipulations of the ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) showed that the vertical boundaries of intertidal mussel beds (Mytilus californianus) are set by complex, spatially varying equilibria between mussel production (recruitment and grow out) and size-dependent predation. His recent work marks the advent in the littoral environment of landscape survey methods and landscape process models. The latter describe how the spatially structured equilibria interact with wave-generated disturbances to shape mussel bed structure over a range of spatial scales. From 1998 to 2009, Carlos served as the Director of the Center for Environmental Analysis (CEA-CREST), an environmental science institute sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Under his direction, CEA-CREST became a nationally recognized model for diversity-focused education, reaching out to pre-college students and placing numerous graduates from underrepresented groups in Ph.D. programs and government agency positions. Carlos is recipient of numerous awards from his home campus and national education organizations for his contributions to education and research. He received a B.A. in Biology in 1973 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph. D. in Zoology in 1979 from the University of California at Berkeley.


19_Aug_04_Helby_-_061.36095253_stdJim Morin

Professor Emeritus
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Cornell University

Marine invertebrate biologist Jim Morin has spent most of his career studying the behavior, ecology and evolution of bioluminescence of marine organisms, especially cnidarians, fishes with bacterial light organs, and ostracod crustaceans, among others, all over the world’s oceans. Jim moved to the Monterey, California area from Minnesota in high school, discovered the ocean, and never looked back. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1965 and his PhD from Harvard in 1969, where he studied neuro-effector control of luminescence in the hydroid Obelia, and was involved in the early work on the light emitting molecule aequorin and the energy transfer molecule GFP in biological systems at the MBL in Woods Hole. He held a faculty position at UCLA for 27 years from 1969-1997 where his focus turned more toward functions of luminescence in near-shore environments and the biological changes that occur at twilight. A dedicated educator, he was one of the founding faculty in the highly successful UCLA Marine Biology Quarter for undergraduates. In 1997 he moved east and joined the faculty at Cornell, and for eight years was the Director of the Shoals Marine Laboratory, located on Appledore Island in the Gulf of Maine, a field lab primarily focused on undergraduate education and research. Since 1979 his principal research has been on all aspects of the fascinating luminescent courtship displays produced by ostracods above Caribbean reefs at the end of twilight.


RichardEastSd23iv08.26891603_stdRichard Strathman

Professor Emeritus
Friday Harbor Laboratory
University of Washington

Richard Strathmann was an undergraduate at Pomona College where he met Megumi Fukushima in an embryology lab, asking her “Can I see your 11 mm pig.” As graduate students at the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington, they honeymooned in one of the huts (pre-insulation version) in 1964. For continued research for master’s degrees, Megumi in zoology and Richard in oceanography, they each told their advisors that they needed to be at FHL because that is where their spouse was doing research. Richard obtained a PhD in zoology in 1970, then did postdoctoral research at UCLA and Univ. of Hawaii. Subsequent employment was on the faculty at the University of Maryland and from 1973 at the Univ. of Washington, where he also became Resident Associate Director at FHL until retirement in 2008. Research interests have been primarily on the functional biology and evolution of larvae and embryos of marine invertebrates, the primary questions being “Why those traits and not others?” A reviewer complained about one paper, “It looks like one question led to another.” That’s what happened. Teaching and research at a field station was a strong influence, from both the quality of instruction from students and exposure to diverse organisms in their habitats.


estes.233213513_stdJim Estes

Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor
U.S. Geological Survey and UC Santa Cruz

After growing up in southern California, Jim received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1967 and doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1974. He subsequently worked as a research scientist for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Geological Survey. After retiring from federal service in 2007, Jim took a part time faculty position with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he currently resides. Jim is an internationally known expert on marine mammals and a specialist in the critical role of apex (top level) predators in the marine environment. He has conducted field research in Alaska, California, Mexico, and New Zealand. He has published more than 150 scientific articles, several books and monographs, and has served on the editorial boards for a variety of professional societies. Jim’s most recent book, published by Island Press in 2010, is a co-edited volume with John Terborgh entitled Trophic Cascades: Predators, Prey and the Changing Dynamics of Nature. Jim is a Pew Fellow in marine conservation and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.


menge.233211250_stdBruce Menge

Oregon State University

Bruce Menge has spent over four decades developing a rich understanding of the processes that drive the dynamics of natural communities. Starting with his Ph.D. work at the University of Washington in the late 1960s, Bruce has used rocky intertidal marine communities as a model system. His work has taken him from the Washington coast, to the shores of New England, to the Oregon coast which has been his main focus since his arrival at Oregon State University in 1976. But his work has not been limited to the shores of North America: he has also done research in Panama, New Zealand, and Chile. He combines the keen skills of a naturalist with the focused attention of an experimental ecologist, while never losing track of the big conceptual questions that motivate community ecology. Bruce applied interdisciplinary and comparative approaches across scales of biological organization long before this was the norm, helping shape major advances in our understanding of marine ecosystems. He has mentored a small legion of graduate students (>38!) who universally applaud Bruce’s accessibility, supportiveness, and insatiable enthusiasm for hands-on, experimental field ecology. In addition to his professional success, he and his partner Dr. Jane Lubchenco pioneered job-sharing for a period of time, actively modeling one pathway to successfully balancing academic and personal life goals.


cailliet.233211422_stdGreg Cailliet

Professor Emeritus
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories & California State University, Fresno
Program Director, Pacific Shark Research Center

For more than four decades, since his graduate work at UCSB in the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Greg has studied the ecology of marine fishes. He joined the faculty at MLML and CSU Fresno in 1972 and has been there ever since. He has been primarily interested in deep-sea fishes and their ecology but also bay, estuarine and chondrichthyan fishes. He has spent considerable time in the field collecting fishes and data on their habitats, using ships, nets, and submersibles. Back in the lab, his interests have centered on the life histories (i.e. feeding habits, age and growth, reproduction, and demography) of these fishes. He and his graduate students have pioneered age determination, verification, and validation techniques in fishes using the growth zones in their calcified structures, along with their radio-isotopic characteristics. He considers teaching and mentoring to be the most important part of his career, having taught Marine Ichthyology, Population Biology, Ecology, Fisheries, and various graduate seminars. He has served as the major advisor for more than 120 M.S. students, and has been on the committees of countless other M.S. and Ph.D. students. Greg has been very active both in WSN and the American Elasmobranch Society over his career. He feels that these two organizations contributed the most to the success of his students. And, he feels that his students and colleagues are the reason for his success and productivity.


pearse.233211525_stdJohn and Vicki Pearse

Professor Emeritus of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Research Associate of the Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz

WSN meetings, starting >40 years ago, initiated John & Vicki into a lifetime of active participation in biological societies, communities in which both were destined to become leaders (John, President of WSN, California Academy of Sciences, International Society of Invertebrate Reproduction, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology; Vicki, President of the American Microscopical Society.) They are passionate about marine invertebrates and have shared this enthusiasm at every opportunity with a multitude of students and other colleagues, through their teaching, editing (e.g, the 7-volume treatise Reproduction of Marine Invertebrates, with Arthur Giese; the journal Invertebrate Biology by Vicki), textbooks (Animals Without Backbones and Living Invertebrates, with Vicki’s parents, Ralph and Mildred Buchsbaum), and other writings. John’s research has spanned reproductive biology, the rocky intertidal, and kelp forest ecology. His favorite animals are echinoderms; Vicki’s are cnidarians and placozoans. The two have worked and published on these and other organisms, both separately and as a team, mostly on the California coast but ranging willingly from tropical to antarctic waters. They haven’t stopped yet.


dayton.233211545_stdPaul Dayton

Professor of Oceanography
Integrative Oceanography Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

As a biological oceanographer, Paul Dayton researches coastal and estuarine habitats, including seafloor (“benthic”) and kelp communities, as well as global fisheries. He has conducted investigations in several parts of the world, including spending 50 months in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, performing research during scuba dives under the ice. The scientific papers resulting from these research projects are largely believed to have set the standard for Antarctic undersea ecology. He has studied nearshore benthic communities in many parts of the world and is presently working on California kelp communities and Antarctic benthic communities. Dayton’s studies also include the impacts of overfishing on marine ecosystems. Besides his own students, the part of his career that gives him the most satisfaction is his contribution to the UC Natural Reserve System.


paine.233211623_stdRobert (Bob) Paine

Professor of Zoology, Emeritus
University of Washington

Except for his dissertation research and a postdoc at Scripps Institution (La Jolla), Robert Paine’s academic career has been spent at the University of Washington. Persistent themes of his research are the central role of natural history, predation and the related top-down influences (with the necessity of experimental manipulation if one wants to understand ecological processes). Food web structure and the roles of disturbance have been a common focus. Most of Robert’s research has been done on exposed, rocky intertidal shores on the outer coast of Washington State, especially Tatoosh Island. His 34 PhD students remain sources of friendship, inspiration and continuing pride. Bob has gone the extra mile in training a lot of students who have become leaders in the field of Natural History.


connell.233211643_stdJoseph (Joe) Connell

Professor of Zoology, Emeritus
Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology
University of California, Santa Barbara

How appropriate it was for the WSN to give Joseph Connell the first award because of the sweeping fundamental ecological insights that Joe has pulled from nature in such very different ecosystems. He truly is one of the all time synthetic geniuses in the field of natural history and almost all of his fundamental work came from his appreciation of natural history. Joe joined the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) faculty in 1956, specialized in the study of the ecology of tropical rain forests and coral reefs. He was a research professor of ecology, evolution, and marine biology. Now Emeritus, Joe is interested in long-term studies in ecology with specialties in population biology, community ecology, marine ecology, terrestrial ecology and theoretical ecology.