Science Excellence

Science Awards

The Science Awards were established in 2008 to recognize that effective wildlife management and conservation is founded on innovative scientific inquiry and principles. As the Service faces increasingly complex challenges, the value of current scientific information is rapidly increasing. The awards are meant to recognize the outstanding efforts of the agency’s scientists and technical staff.

For the 2018 Science Awards, the Service received 26 nominations. All of the nominations were rigorously screened by a subset of the national Science Committee and the highest caliber nominations were forwarded to the Selection Committee for consideration.

View the nomination guidelines for the Service's Science Awards

View the list of past Science Award Winners

2018 Science Award Recipients

2018 Sam D. Hamilton Award for Transformational Conservation Science:
Dr. Brett Towler, Northeast Region 5, Hydraulic Engineer

Dr. Brett Towler is transforming the conservation of fish, not only in the Northeast, but around the world through his proliferation of high-caliber fish passage science; new, rigorous training opportunities; and new forums for collaboration and information exchange. Fishway designs and alterations based on Brett’s published criteria have resulted in orders-of-magnitude increases in fish passage effectiveness that are producing real, measurable, and better biological outcomes. Learn more.

2018 Rachel Carson Award for Exemplary Scientific Accomplishment:
Dr. William (Bill) Ardren, Region 5, Senior Fisheries Biologist

Dr. Bill Ardren developed a series of large scale, adaptive management experiments to restore naturally-reproducing, landlocked Atlantic salmon in the Lake Champlain Basin. The application of Bill’s impressive scientific efforts resulted in the first documented natural reproduction of salmon in over 150 years in two Lake Champlain tributaries. Learn more.

2018 Science Leadership Award:
Scott Hicks, Midwest Region 3, Field Supervisor, Michigan Ecological Services Field Office

Scott Hicks has empowered the Michigan Field Office to fully embrace innovative thinking and science in informed decision support and recovery of species including Kirtland’s warbler, piping plover, and Eastern massasauga rattlesnake. Scott has also devoted considerable effort engaging with Michigan wind energy developers to develop proactive efforts for wildlife conservation. Learn more.

Last updated: March 7, 2019

Please send comments, suggestions and questions for this Web site to: Megan Cook at

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  |  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA