The Oliver L. Austin Jr. Award For Graduate Student Excellence in Natural Science Research honors long-time Florida Museum of Natural History curator of ornithology, Oliver Austin. The award recognizes a University of Florida graduate student for excellence in research in the natural sciences.

The Austin Award is funded primarily through the Louis C. and Jane Gapenski Endowed Fellowship. Support the Austin Award by making a gift to the Gapenski Endowment.


The graduate student must be or must have been guided by a curator, collection manager, or research scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and preference is given to those students who have spent a significant portion of their scholastic career doing research in the Florida Museum’s programs and collections. Current students as well as former graduate students within one year of receiving their degree are eligible.


Applications are evaluated by the Florida Museum of Natural History University Teaching Committee. Preference is given to a student involved in whole organism, population, and ecosystem studies based on substantial research in the field and in the Florida Museum. The nomination should include the following:

  1. A letter from a Florida Museum sponsor (faculty/collection manager/research scientist) which clearly describes: a) the research completed while under the guidance of the Museum sponsor and its significance; b) the nominee’s contribution to and use of Museum collections/programs; c) any other meritorious activities of the nominee in association with the Florida Museum.
  2. The nominee’s curriculum vitae and an optional, short (<1 page) statement from the nominee addressing the issues listed above.
  3. Copies of one to three publications that show evidence of research excellence and that are based at least in part on research conducted during the nominee’s time at the Florida Museum. Acceptable alternatives include a thesis or dissertation, or a paper that has been submitted or is in press.

Nominations for these awards are generally solicited from Florida Museum faculty and staff supervisors early in the Spring semester. Nominations should be sent to the chair of the University Teaching Committee. All documents should be included as electronic attachments if possible.

Austin Award Winners

2022 – Gregory Jongsma

2021 – Ian Ausprey, Ana Paula S. Carvalho

2020 – Victor J. Perez, Ryan A. St Laurent

2019 – Richard Hodel, John M. Pfeiffer

2018 – Natasha S. Vitek, Maria Fernanda Checa

2017 – Greg Stull

2016 – Andrew Crowl

2015 – Catalina Pimiento

2014 – Francois Michonneau

2013 – Lucas Majure

2012 – Alex Hastings, Fabiany Herrera

2011 – Julie Allen

2010 – Machal Malay, Emily Saarinen

2009 – Larisa DeSantis

2008 – Christine Edwards

2007 – Ashley Morris

2006 – Jeremy Kirchman

2005 – Lisa Kirkendale

2000 – Carlos Iudica, John Polisar

1998 – Carlos Jaramillo, Lora Smith

1997 – Bruce J. Shockey

1994 – Lee Ann Newsom

1991 – John Thorbjarnarson

1990 – Jacquelyn Bellwood, Gustavo Fonseca

1989 – Steven D. Emslie

1988 – Victoria McDonald, Thomas C. Edwards, Jr.

1985 – Peter A. Meylan

1984 – Thomas A. Webber

1983 – John W. Hermanson, Willard W. Hennemann III

1982 – Kenneth T. Wilkins

1981 – Ronald L. Myers

1980 – Karen A. Bjorndal

1979 – James M. Coleman

1978 – David G. Young

1976 – John B. Iverson

1975 – Frank Bonaccorso

1974 – Steven P. Christman