Linnean Society Announces 2024 Medal and Award Recipients

Linnean Society Announces 2024 Medal and Award Recipients

Congratulations to all of our medal and award winners for 2024

Published on 4th April 2024

The Linnean Society’s 2024 Medals and Awards recognise nine outstanding individuals from the worlds of science, the arts and conservation, working to protect the natural world.

Our 2024 awardees celebrate many diverse areas of activity, from a young environmentalist devising interactive conservation maps to an amateur naturalist who has expanded our knowledge of the development and behaviour of leaf-mining insects.

Our research awardees this year include a scientist who has transformed our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of sauropod dinosaurs. With our links to Charles Darwin, remarkable research has also covered evolution, both of plants and of cranial phenotypic diversity in mammals.

Each year, the Society honours researchers, naturalists, artists and science communicators with our medals and awards. We aim to highlight contributions from people with a range of backgrounds and experience who are dedicated to the understanding and protection of the natural world.

Please join us in congratulating all of our inspirational 2024 awardees.

‘Understanding the natural world has always been close to the heart of the Linnean Society, even before we awarded the first Linnean Medals in 1888. As our membership and its expertise has expanded, so have our medals and awards, which continue to mark achievement both inside and outside of academia.

This year our winners offer an exciting overview of the incredible contributions to the natural world, from established academics to early career researchers, to dedicated amateur naturalists and inspirational leaders of the future. We hope you will join us in congratulating all of them.’

Professor Anjali Goswami

President, The Linnean Society

Linnean Medal (for services to science)

Professor Paul Upchurch

Professor Paul Upchurch stands in a suit in front of a dinosaur skeleton

Credit: UCL

‘I first came across the work of Carl Linnaeus when I became fascinated by natural history in general, and taxonomy in particular, as a child. The award of the Linnean Medal, all these years later, is therefore a great honour and means a huge amount to me both professionally and personally.’

Professor Paul Upchurch has made an outstanding contribution to the fields of palaeobiology, systematics and phylogenetics. He is globally renowned for transforming our understanding of the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of sauropod dinosaurs, having been the first to tackle the subject in the early 1990s. He has also made important phylogenetic and taxonomic contributions to other dinosaurian and tetrapod groups, contributing to numerous studies of diversity patterns in the fossil record. As a scientist with a severe visual impairment, Paul (a member of the Royal Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and chair of its disability subcommittee) has brought a strong voice to promoting diversity in science, particularly disabilities.

Darwin–Wallace Medal (for major advances in evolutionary biology)

Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS

Professor Peter Crane smiles and holds a plant in his hand, with a camera round his neck

Credit: Mitsuyasu Hasebe

‘It is a huge honour to receive the Darwin–Wallace Medal, and especially to join such a distinguished list of previous recipients. At the time of Darwin and Wallace the contribution that palaeobotany could make to understanding plant evolution was largely unexplored. So, it is exciting that the situation today is dramatically different. New discoveries, new theory, new techniques and the perspectives of new young people entering the field, are generating an increasingly integrated neontological and paleontological view of the major features of plant evolution.’

Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS stands as a world leader in evolutionary biology, globally acclaimed for his groundbreaking contributions to the field of plant diversity, both living and extinct. His extensive body of work spans from the origin and fossil history of plant life to its current state, encompassing themes of conservation and practical utility. His palaeobotanical discoveries, combined with phylogenetic analyses of morphological data, have profoundly altered our outlook on early angiosperm evolution. As Director of Chicago’s Field Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (now Yale School of Environment), and currently President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Peter has always spearheaded innovation, inclusion and engagement.

Bicentenary Medal (awarded to an early-career scientist, in recognition of excellent research in the natural sciences)

Professor Dr Anne-Claire Fabre

Professor Dr Anne-Claire Fabre stands in a museum with a table of animal skulls in front of her

Credit: Nelly Rodriguez

‘Receiving the Bicentenary Medal means a lot to me, because so many great biologists have received it—I feel truly honoured by this recognition from my peers.’

Professor Dr Anne-Claire Fabre is an evolutionary biologist and functional morphologist focusing on shape evolution in an ecological context across vertebrate animals. Involving both laboratory and fieldwork, Anne-Claire’s research provides novel applied and comparative perspectives on the understanding of what is shaping past and current diversity of organisms and how it relates to function. Anne-Claire is a dynamic early-career evolutionary functional morphologist and has obtained several prestigious grants to conduct her research. Her research, particularly on aye-aye behaviour, has been featured in news and media outlets all over the world, including The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Daily Mail and Scientific American.

Trail–Crisp Award (for an outstanding contribution to biological microscopy)

Dr Justyna J. Miszkiewicz

Dr Justyna J. Miszkiewicz smiles sitting on a yellow chair

Credit: Jolanta Miszkiewicz

‘I love looking down the microscope to see how skeletal structures are formed in different animals. I never expected to receive an award for something I love doing. It’s truly an honour and I feel humbled.’

Dr Justyna J. Miszkiewicz’s work on bone growth through hard tissue histological analysis has provided major insights into the impacts of social and environmental conditions, and has real world implications for how we manage bone disease resulting from social disadvantage. Her work has also greatly expanded our knowledge of bone physiology in ancient populations, with these new data providing evidence for female bone health resilience in the Pacific and ancient behavioural practices in England, the Marshall Islands, and Iran, to name a few. Employing a variety of techniques including micromorphology and micromorphometrics, Justyna has also led groundbreaking research on dwarf deer and hippopotamus from the Mediterranean, and giant rats from Timor, showing that smaller body mass on islands is associated with elevated bone cell densities and rates of remodelling.

Irene Manton Prize (for the best doctoral thesis in botany, in a UK university)

Dr Tin Hang (Henry) Hung

Dr Tin Hang (Henry) Hung leans against a tree in the snow

Credit: Cheuk Chi (Eric) So

‘I am very humbled to receive the Irene Manton Prize for my research on critically endangered rosewoods, the world’s most trafficked wild product. Botany is an ancient discipline with its roots in medicine and agriculture. Yet, it remains vital today to inspire us, offering insights into nature and sustaining our daily lives. Botanists, like Dr Irene Manton who is the inspiration for this prize, have an indispensable role in this changing world and I feel deeply connected with this community. And I thank my late grandfather, who always had unfailing support and love for me.’’

The 2024 winner of the Irene Manton Prize is Dr Tin Hang (Henry) Hung for his thesis ‘Ecological genomics and adaptation of rosewoods Dalbergia cochinchinensis and D. oliveri for conservation and restoration’. The thesis studies two threatened rosewood species which are illegally exploited for their valuable timber in the Greater Mekong Subregion, becoming the world’s most trafficked wild product between 2005 and 2014. The landscape genomic analysis of this outstanding thesis was one of the very first studies of adaptive genetic variation in tropical endangered tree species. Cutting-edge technologies were used to assemble the genomes and genotype more than 700 trees, predicting their fates under climate change. Henry’s work could have an enormous impact on the conservation of these critically endangered species.

John C. Marsden Medal (for the best doctoral thesis in biology, in a UK university)

Dr Heather E. White

Dr Heather E. White stands in front of museum specimens of two giraffes

Credit: Heather E. White

‘I am immensely honoured to have been awarded the John C. Marsden Medal by the Linnean Society, this recognition has filled me with such joy. It is truly humbling to receive this award from the very society where the theory of evolution by natural selection was first presented. With my PhD focused on the evolutionary development of mammals, this couldn’t feel a more fitting recognition of my research. The Linnean Society has been such a profound presence during my scientific research and provided me with a wonderful space to engage in scientific debate. Thank you to all those who have supported me throughout my scientific endeavours so far; this is no means the end, but only the start.’

Dr Heather E. White has been awarded this year’s John C. Marsden Medal for her thesis ‘Shaping the mammalian skull: Modelling how suture morphology, complexity, and development drive cranial evolution’. Cranial morphology in mammals can provide us with an understanding of a species’ ecology, locomotion, and development, yet little attention has been dedicated to the morphology of the sutural joints, between cranial bones. Heather’s research compiled the largest mammalian ontogenetic comparative dataset to date, providing much-needed quantification of the interaction between suture and skull development. The thesis proposes that developmental mechanisms shaping suture morphology are central to the evolution of mammalian cranial phenotypic diversity.

Jill Smythies Award (to a botanical artist for outstanding, diagnostically relevant, published illustrations)

Maria Alice de Rezende

Maria Alice de Rezende sits on the forest floor looking down at a huge leaf from the Coccoloba gigantifolia tree

Credit: Maria Alice de Rezende

‘The moment I received the news that I was the winner of the Jill Smythies Award from the Linnean Society, it was difficult to express how I felt. I could not have ever imagined receiving such an honour. Having been born and raised surrounded and fascinated by nature, it was no surprise that it was also where I would find my professional expression. Upon receiving this award, I feel very excited, happy and encouraged to continue to understand, represent and value nature through my work. Thank you very much!’

Maria ‘Alice’ de Rezende began training as a botanical illustrator the Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden in 2002, where she provided 23 illustrations for the Flora Neotropica (Metzgeriaceae). Her Graduation in Fine Art and Master’s Degree in Botany culminated in illustrations on bryophyte conservation in the Biodiversity and Conservation Journal in 2015. Alongside her hundreds of illustrations, Alice has also taught in Rio de Janeiro and in the Amazon, where she studied species found in the Amazonian Campinarana, later returning to teach workshops and evaluate the effects of climate change and human interference on this biome. Alice served on the steering committee for Brazil’s Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition.

H. H. Bloomer Award (awarded to an amateur naturalist for their contribution to biology)

Charley Eiseman

Charley Eiseman stands in a woodland wearing a backpack holding some leaves and smiling

Credit: Julia Blyth

‘It never occurred to me that pursuing my interest in the natural history of little-known insects might lead to any sort of award, let alone from the Linnean Society. I am gratified and honoured to have my work recognised in this way.’

Charley Eiseman spends much of his time outdoors, finding and observing leaf-mining insects, documenting and understanding their biology and host-plant relationships. Outstanding photography accompanies documentation of the development and behaviour of the miners and their parasitoids, as observed in his home-lab. His are often the first observations of species, so far having co-authored descriptions of new species for 68 Diptera, three Lepidoptera and seven Hymenoptera. Charley has published 69 peer-reviewed papers, and his monumental book, Leafminers of North America is a unique resource in the level of detail in the descriptions, photographs and documentation. His public engagement work includes the BugTracks blog, talks, walks and popular articles.

John Spedan Lewis Emerging Leader Award (for initiatives that have had a notable positive impact for the UK natural environment)

Kabir Kaul

Kabir Kaul stands on a grassy riverbank in a blue puffer jacket holding binoculars

Credit: Gayatri Kaul

‘I am deeply honoured to receive the John Spedan Lewis Emerging Leader Award. Over the past six years I have sought to bring attention to the habitats and wildlife of urban areas, particularly in London where I live. Often nature in cities is overlooked or forgotten about, so it is crucial to make urban residents aware of their role as custodians of their local environment. Working with several nature organisations has given me the knowledge and platform to communicate with wider audiences, especially young people, and this award encourages me to continue enabling everyone to make a difference.

Kabir Kaul is a London-based conservationist, who created the first interactive map of London’s 1,000+ nature reserves and wildlife sites in 2019, aged just 13. An authentic and impassioned communicator, his aim ever since has been to help people connect with the nature around them and learn about conservation. For his work, Kabir has received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister. In 2020 he became a volunteer Ranger with London National Park City, and as an Ambassador for the Cameron Bespolka Trust, Kabir launched a campaign for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022—over 100 schools across London received free nestboxes.