The Smithsonian Secretary awards up to ten annual prizes recognizing excellence in recent research by the Institution’s employees.
Process and Scope
A committee of jurors named by the Smithsonian Congress of Scholars will review nominations and forward its recommendations to the Secretary who will select the final award recipients. The awards will be presented by the Secretary in the Fall. Prize winners will each be awarded $2,000 in research funds to be placed in 402 accounts for their use.
Any Smithsonian staff member may place a colleague’s name into nomination or may self-nominate. The array of awards will be pan-Smithsonian, reflecting the wide diversity of research at the Institution across disciplinary areas with differing standards and goals. Peer-reviewed scholarship on any topic that covers the span of the Smithsonian’s activities is eligible. Interdisciplinary and collaborative research is encouraged, as is publication in electronic as well as print or video formats. In the sciences, subject areas may include, among others, astronomy, earth sciences, human sciences, and biology; in the humanities, history and culture, art history, social sciences, and conservation reports. Excellence as judged by peers, internal or external, will be the overarching standard and interdisciplinary research is especially encouraged.
The selection committee will have considerable latitude and flexibility to recommend prize awards, depending upon the number and quality of nominations each year.
Following are some recommended categories and guidelines for submitting nominations:
Two or more prizes may be awarded annually for best scholarly books. Books published in the past three years may be placed in nomination (i.e., for the 2012 awards, books published in 2009, 2010, and 2011 will be considered). They may remain in contention for three years. Books must make an original and useful contribution to knowledge about the subject discussed. They may be judged on the basis of quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of the research to the scholarly field and society. Books may include single-author exhibition catalogues. Two copies of each book, a copy of the author’s (or authors’ if there are more than one) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each book should be submitted. Book reviews may be added to the nomination packet as desired.
Articles or Chapters
Multiple prizes may be awarded for best scholarly articles in peer-reviewed publications or for single essays in book-length publications in a variety of areas. Articles or essays must have been published within the last two years (i.e., for the 2012 prize, articles published in 2010 and 2011 are eligible). They will be judged on quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of the research to the scholarly field and society. A copy of each article or essay, a copy of the author’s (or authors’) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each article should be submitted.
Exhibition catalogues or symposium proceedings
The selection committee may also recommend prizes for the best multi-author exhibition catalogue or best symposium proceedings publication organized and edited by a Smithsonian employee (or employees). Catalogues published within the last two years (i.e., for the 2012 prize, essays published in 2010 and 2011) are eligible. They will be judged on quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of research to the scholarly field and society. Two copies of each catalogue, a copy of the editor’s (or editors’) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each catalogue should be submitted.
The committee may upon occasion award a prize for the best exhibition without published catalogue in the past calendar year. The exhibition demonstrates original new scholarship and a new perception of a given area of study, through clear explanation of research, selection and grouping of objects, explanatory wall texts, and installation strategies. This is not a prize for education or outreach but for an innovative assemblage and display of important new research. The nomination must include a written overview of the exhibition, photos (or photocopies) of the spaces, a map showing the layout of the exhibition and explanation of the installation strategy, and copies of any accompanying brochures or fliers. Exhibition reviews and two letters attesting to the impact of the show on scholarly understanding must also be submitted.
Recordings and moving images
The committee may choose to award one or more prizes for the best documentary recordings (sound recordings with liner notes) or video/film productions. Recordings or productions issued within the last two years may be considered (i.e., for the 2012 prize, essays published in 2010 and 2011). They will be judged on research, originality, clarity of presentation, and usefulness of research to the scholarly field and society. In addition to a copy of (or access to) the recording or production, two letters attesting to the significance of each nominated production should be submitted.
Scholarly web sites
One or more prizes may be awarded for the best online site(s) offering original research and analysis to the scholarly world and the public. As with all of the other prize categories, the content of the site must be peer reviewed in some fashion. The research offered on the web site must be original and make a distinct new contribution to the field. Sites completed within the past two years are eligible (i.e., for the 2012 award, sites completed in 2010 and 2011 are eligible). Two letters from scholars attesting to the significance of the site should be submitted.
Adrienne E. Crosier and Pierre Comizzoli (NZP) for the article: “First Birth of Cheetah Cubs from In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer.”
Kathleen Franz, Nancy Bercaw, Verónica Méndez, Sam Vong, Mireya Loza, and Ken Cohen (NMAH) for the exhibition without a published catalog: Girlhood (It's complicated).
Eleanor J. Harvey (SAAM) for the scholarly book: Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture.
Kate Clarke Lemay (NPG) for the exhibition catalogue: Votes for Women! A Portrait of Persistence.
Karen Elizabeth Milbourne (NMAfA) for the scholarly book: I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa.
Helene C. Muller-Landau (STRI) for the chapter: “What Determines the Abundance of Lianas and Vines?”
Richard Potts, Anna Behrensmeyer, and Jennifer Clark (NMNH) for the article: “Increased ecological resource variability during a critical transition in hominin evolution.”
Andrea Quattrini and Gabriela Farfan (NMNH) for the article: “Paleoclimate ocean conditions shaped the evolution of corals and their skeletons through deep time.”
Michelle Joan Wilkinson (NMAAHC) for the chapter: “Concrete and Filigree.”
Bruce Campbell (NASM) for the article: “The mean rotation rate of Venus from 29 years of Earth-based radar observations” in Icarus.
Michelle Delaney (NMAI) for the book: Art and Advertising in Buffalo Bill's Wild West.
Kathleen Franz (NMAH) for the exhibition without a published catalog: All Work, No Pay: Women's Invisible Labor.
Emily Jacobson and Blythe McCarthy (FSG) for the book: Going Beyond Appearances: Examination of Hidden Paint Layers in a Gulistan of Sa'di from the Freer Gallery of Art.
Katherine Ott (NMAH) for the exhibition without a published catalog: Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall.
John Parker (SERC) for the article: “Climate-driven regime shifts in a mangrove-salt marsh ecotone over the past 250 years” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
David Penney (NMAI) for the article: “Siyosapa: At the Edge of Art” in Arts.
Budhan Pukazhenthi (NZP/SCBI) for the article: “Gut microbiome differences between wild and captive black rhinoceros - implications for rhino health” in Nature: Scientific Reports.
Leslie Umberger (SAAM) for the exhibition catalog: Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor.
Dr. Alberto Accomazzi, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for the website: The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System.
Dr. Aaron Bryant, National Museum of African American History and Culture, for the exhibition: City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.
Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler, National Museum of Natural History, for the book: The Iconic Tattooed Man of Easter Island.
Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, National Museum of Natural History, for the book: Spying on Whales.
Dr. Sabrina Sholts, National Museum of Natural History, for the exhibition: Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World.
Ms. Jan Stuart, Freer|Sackler Galleries of Art, for the exhibition catalogue: Empresses of China's Forbidden City, 1644–1912
Ms. Christine Romano, Dr. Thomas Lam, and Ms. Jia-sun Tsang, Museum Conservation Institute, for the symposium proceedings: “Technical Study and Treatment of Paintings by Clementine Hunter”.
Dr. Joshua Bell, National Museum of Natural History, for the article “A Bundle of Relations: Collections, Collecting and Communities” published in the Annual Review of Anthropology.
Dr. Igor Chilingaryan, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for the article “RCSED–A Value-added Reference Catalog of Spectral Energy Distributions of 800,299 Galaxies in 11 Ultraviolet, Optical, and Near-infrared Bands” published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.
Drs. Robert Fleischer and Kevin Mulder, National Zoological Park, for the co-authored article “No paternal genetic integration in desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) following translocation into an existing population” published in the journal Biological Conservation.
Ms. Lynn Heidelbaugh, National Postal Museum, for the exhibit “My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I.”
Dr. Michael Johnson, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for the article “Dynamical Imaging with Interferometry” published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Dr. Jeremy Kinney, National Air and Space Museum, for the book Reinventing the Propeller: Aeronautical Specialty and the Triumph of the Modern Airplane published by Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Dr. Huib Schippers, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, for the book Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures: An Ecological Perspective published by Oxford University Press, 2016
Dr. Sean M. Andrews and David J. Wilner of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for the co-authored article "Ringed Substructure and a Gap at 1 au in the Nearest Protoplanetary Disk" published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters 820,
no. 2 (2016): L40.
Drs. Olivia Cadaval, Sojin Kim and Diana B. N’Diaye of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage for their co-edited volume “Curatorial Conversations: Cultural Representation and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival” published by the University Press of Mississippi, 2016.
Dr. Jon Grinspan of the National Museum of American History for his book “The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century” published by University of North Carolina Press Books, 2016.
Dr. Karen Y. Lemmey of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for her article “From Skeleton to Skin: The Making of the Greek Slave(s)” published in 19th C Art World Wide Summer 16.
Dr. Mireya Loza of the National Museum of American History for her book “Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual, and Political Freedom” published by University of North Carolina Press Books, 2016.
Drs. Aaron O’Dea, Harilaos A. Lessios, Anthony G. Coates, Robert F. Stallard, Egbert G. Leigh, and Jeremy B. C. Jackson of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Drs. Nancy Knowlton and Nicholas D. Pyenson of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for the co-authored article "Formation of the Isthmus of Panama" published in Science Advances.
Dr. Dwandalyn R. Reece of the National Museum of African American History and Culture for her exhibit without a catalogue “Musical Crossroads.”
Drs. Massumeh Farhad and Simon G. Rettig of the Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery for the co-authored exhibit catalogue “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” published by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Dr. Torben C. Rick of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Drs. Denise Breitburg, Matthew B. Ogburn, and Anson H. Hines of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for the co-authored article “Millennial-scale sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay Native American oyster fishery” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Ms. Helena E. Wright of the National Museum of American History for her book “The First Smithsonian Collection: The European Engravings of George Perkins Marsh and the Role of Prints in the US National Museum” published by Smithsonian Institution, 2015
Ms. Kathleen Ash-Milby and Dr. David Penney of the National Museum of the American Indian for their co-edited exhibition catalog Kay WalkingStick/An American Artist
Dr. Stephen Cairns of the National Museum of Natural History for his article “Stylasteridae (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa: Anthoathecata) of the New Caledonian region” published in Mémoires du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Dr. Lee Glazer of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery for her exhibition without a published catalog “Peacock Room Remix: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre”
Dr. Jefferson Hall of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for his edited volume Managing Watersheds for Ecosystem Services in the Steepland Neotropics
Dr. Douglas Herman of the National Museum of the American Indian for his article “Traditional Knowledge in a Time of Crisis: Climate Change, Culture and Communication” published in Sustainability Science
Dr. Carlos Jaramillo of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for his co-authored article “Middle Miocene Closure of the Central American Seaway” published in Science
Dr. Paul F. Johnston of the National Museum of American History for his bookShipwrecked in Paradise: Cleopatra’s Barge in Hawai‘i
Drs. Ramiro Matos and José Barreiro of the National Museum of the American Indian for their co-edited book The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire
Mr. Daniel Piazza and Mr. Calvin Mitchell of the National Postal Museum for their exhibit and catalog, Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights
Dr. James Ulak of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery for his exhibition catalog Sōtatsu
Drs. Pierre Comizzoli and David Wildt of the National Zoological Park for their jointly authored article “Retention of Structure and Function of the Cat Germinal Vesicle After Air-¬-drying and Storage at Suprazero Temperature.”
Dr. Carole Baldwin of the National Museum of Natural History for her article “The Phylogenetic Significance of Colour Patterns in Marine Teleost Larvae.”
Dr. Debra Diamond of the Freer Sackler Gallery for her exhibition/catalogue “Yoga: The Art of Transformation.”
Dr. Bart Hacker of the National Museum of American History for his article “White Man’s War, Coloured Man’s Labour: Working for the British Army on the Western Front.”
Dr. Igor Krupnik of the National Museum of Natural History for his book “Yupik Transitions: Change and Survival at Bering Strait, 1900–1960.”
Dr. Joanna Marsh of the American Art Museum for her exhibit with no publication “The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art.”
Dr. Karen Milbourne of the National Museum of African Art for her book “Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa”
Dr. Nicholas Pyenson and Ms. Holly Little of the National Museum of Natural History; Mr. Vincent Rossi and Mr. Adam Metallo of the Office of the Chief Information Officer for their article and scholarly website “Repeated Mass Strandings of Miocene Marine Mammals from Atacama Region of Chile Point to Sudden Death at Sea.” http://cerroballena.si.edu
Dr. Dennis Stanford of the National Museum of Natural History for his co-authored book “Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture.”
Dr. Edward Tong of the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory for his article “Microwave-¬-Operated Hot-Electron-Bolometric Power Detector for Terahertz Radiation.”
Dr. Stuart J. Davies, of the Tropical Research Institute, for his jointly-authored book: “The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia.”
Dr. Sid Hart, of the National Portrait Gallery, for his exhibition catalog: “1812: A Nation Emerges.”
Dr. Eleanor Harvey, of the American Art Museum, for her book: The Civil War and American Art.
Dr. G. David Johnson, of the National Museum of Natural History – Vertebrate Zoology, for his article/book chapter: “A ‘living fossil’ eel (Anguilliformes: Protanguillidae, fam. nov.) from an undersea cave in Palau.”
Dr. Christine Kreamer, of the National Museum of African Art, for her exhibition catalog: “African Cosmos: Stellar Arts.”
Mr. Thomas Lera, of the National Postal Museum, for his book: G.H. Kaestlin Collection of Imperial Russian and Zemstvo Stamps.
Dr. Ann McMullen, of the National Museum of the American Indian, for her article/book chapter: “Revealing Ancestral Central America.”
Dr. William J. McShea, of the National Zoological Park, for his jointly-authored book: The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia.
Dr. Philip Myers, of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for his article/book chapter: “Mass and Luminosity Evolution of Young Stellar Objects.”
Mr. E. Warren Perry, Jr., of the National Portrait Gallery, for his symposium proceeding: “Echoes of Elvis: The Cultural Legacy of Elvis Presley.”
Mr. David C. Ward, of the National Portrait Gallery, for his exhibition: Poetic Likeness: Modern American Poets.
David DeVorkin and Michael Neufeld,“Space Artifact or Nazi Weapon? Displaying the Smithsonian’s V-2 missile, 1976-2011” Endeavour, vol 35, no 4, December 2011.
Charles Lada, et al, "On The Star Formation Rates in Molecular Clouds" The Astrophysical Journal, 724:687–693, November 2010.
Pierre Comizzoli, et al, "The competence of germinal vesicle oocytes is unrelated to nuclear chromatin configuration and strictly depends on cytoplasmic quantity and quality in the cat model" Human Reproduction, vol 26, no 8, August 2011.
Liza Kirwin, Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.
Barbara Clark Smith, The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America, The New Press, 2010.
Hans-Dieter Sues and Nicholas Fraser, Triassic Life on Land: The Great Transition, Columbia University Press, 2010.
David Ward and Jonathan Katz, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, Smithsonian Books, 2010