Joint Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology

The Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology, sponsored by the American Society of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists, the Herpetologists' League, and the Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles, is given at the annual Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists (JMIH) to recognize superior teaching effectiveness and mentoring of students in the area of herpetology. The award is presented annually at the Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists, and includes a commemorative plaque and a $500 cash prize.


The Herpetology Education Committee is seeking nominations for the Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology, which will be presented at each year’s Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists (JMIH). This award recognizes superior teaching effectiveness and mentoring of students in the area of herpetology, and provides student members of the North American herpetological societies the opportunity to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to herpetological education, in either the classroom or mentoring student research endeavors. Winners of the award will be encouraged to become active in the HEC, which will facilitate continuity of the HEC and maintenance of the standards by which future awards are bestowed.

The award recipient will receive 1) a cash prize of US$500°°, 2) recognition in the form of an official letter from HEC (a copy of the letter will also be forwarded to the chief academic administrator at recipient’s host institution), and 3) a plaque identifying the award, year, and recipient’s name.

Please send nomination materials to Lynn Haugen (Lynn [dot] Haugen [at] wnmu [dot] edu), Herpetological Education Committee Chair, by 31 April.

Nominations will proceed as follows:

  1. Persons wishing to nominate an individual for the award should submit a letter of nomination that:
    1. Describes specific evidence to support the nomination (e.g., innovative teaching modules, lab or field exercises, or other educational products).
    2. Includes documentation of other teaching awards and a list of courses currently taught.
    3. Includes names and contact information of at least two peers who are each qualified to review the merits of the nominee.
    4. Includes two letters from current or former students that also present supporting evidence of exceptional teaching and mentoring from the nominee.
  2. Letters of nomination should be submitted to the HEC Chair by 31 March of each year. Electronic copies of nomination letters are preferred.
  3. An individual may receive the award up to two times during his/her career providing that:
    1. The recipient has received the Award on only one prior occasion.
    2. At least 6 years has elapsed since the recipient first received the Award.
    3. Supporting materials for an individual’s re-nomination include:
    4. A description of specific activities, mentoring opportunities, or teaching methods that the individual has adopted since first receiving the Award. ii. Two letters of recommendation from students who did not contribute any supporting materials when the individual first received the Award.
  4. If a nominee does not receive an award, his/her submission material will be held and reconsidered for up to three successive years. After that, the nominee must wait six years before being eligible again for nomination. Updated information may be supplied by the nominee.
  5. No award will be given in a year when there are no suitable nominees.

Selection of the award recipient will be made by a committee composed of members of Herpetology Education Committee and at least three graduate students (one student from each of the sponsoring societies). Selection will be based on the following criteria and eligibility:

  1. Nominees must be current members of at least one of the following societies:
    1. the American Society of Ichthyologists & Herpetologists,
    2. the Herpetologists’ League, or
    3. the Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles.
  2. Nominees must be active at their home insitutions.
  3. Current Officers and Committee Chairs of ASIH, HL or SSAR, or members of HEC are not eligible for nomination.
  4. Nominees should have a reputation among their peers and students for excellence in educating people about herpetology, including, but not limited to, the following:
    1. Demonstrated highly effective and innovative teaching in the classroom or in an informal education setting (e.g., zoological parks, aquaria, museums, field stations, environmental centers, etc.).
    2. Demonstrated superior mentoring of students in herpetology, in either research or educational settings.
    3. Sustained commitment (e.g., over multiple cohorts of students) to excellence in teaching herpetology.

Past Winners

  • 2017: John Maerz
  • 2016. Emily Taylor
  • 2015. H. Bradley Shaffer, University of California Los Angeles
  • 2014. Alan M. Richmond, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • 2013. Craig Guyer, Auburn University
  • 2012. MIchael Dorcas, Davidson College
  • 2011. Bob Powell, Avila University
  • 2010. J. Whitfield Gibbons, University of Georgia/SREL
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