About the prize: The field of molecular ecology is a young and inherently interdisciplinary research area. As a consequence, research in molecular ecology is not currently represented by a single scientific society. Likewise, there is no body that actively promotes the discipline or recognizes its pioneers. To help fill this void, the editorial board of the journal, Molecular Ecology, created the Molecular Ecology Prize several years ago to recognize significant contributions to this area of research. A committee with a rotating membership was established to call for nominations and decide on prize winners. This international prize, which includes an engraved silver platter, thus far has been awarded to three of the most distinguished pioneers in this discipline: Godfrey Hewitt, University of East Anglia, UK; John Avise, University of California, Irvine; and most recently, Pierre Taberlet. A short biography of the prize winners is published in Molecular Ecology, which describes their contributions.
Molecular Ecology Highlight:
Recipient of the 2012 Molecular Ecology Prize: Craig Moritz
A cartoon on an office door depicts two mountaineers descending into a valley. One mountaineer, trailing somewhat behind, has just asked his companion why they are descending into a valley and not scaling a nearby mountain instead. The leader's reply: ‘Because there's nothing there!’ The cartoon suggested that missing or unexpected phenomena are often worthy of investigation, just like observable ones.
The office door featuring this cartoon was Craig Moritz's at the University of Queensland from 1988 to 2001, where he was professor and head of the School of Botany, Zoology and Entomology. The cartoon perfectly encapsulates Craig's style of inspiration and leadership—in particular, his desire to analyse data to understand what the data are saying about nature. » read more.