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Society for the History of Natural History

Awards, Honours and Medals

SHNH Founders' Medal

The SHNH Founders’ Medal 2024 – Nominations Open

SHNH Founders’ Medal

The Founders’ Medal is awarded to persons who have made a substantial contribution to the study of the history or bibliography of natural history.

Nominations are now open and should be sent to the Secretary ( by 10th January 2024.

The recipient for the award is chosen by Council and will be presented with the Founders’ Medal at the Society’s Annual General Meeting in June 2023.


  • Medallists are chosen by the Council of the Society.
  • Nominations, which open on 01 September, can only be made by SHNH members.
  • Nominations close on 10 January the following year.
  • SHNH members and non-members can be nominated for this medal, which is open to nominees based in the UK and internationally.


  • Nominations must be sent to the Secretary ( and include the following:
  • Your name as a nominator and your contact details.
  • The nominee’s name and contact details.
  • A supporting statement (up to 600 words) describing why the nominee should receive the award.

Selection Criteria

Nominees should satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

  • A sustained record of high-quality publications or other outputs in the field of the history of natural history.
  • A sustained contribution to dissemination of the history of natural history through practice or curation.

The SHNH Founders’ Medal 2023

Geoffrey Moore
SHNH Founders’ Medal 2023

The Society is very pleased to announce that our prestigious Founders’ Medal will this year be awarded to Professor Geoff Moore, Emeritus Professor of Marine Biology at the University of London.

Professor P. Geoffrey Moore (“Geoff”) Moore served as President of the Society for the History of Natural History from 2009 to 2012 during which period several initiatives were brought to fruition, especially the invitation to Sir David Attenborough OM, CH, CVO, CBE, FRS, FZS, Hon. FLS to become the Society’s Patron (Archives of Natural History 37 (2): 189–190) and, consequently, in 2011, the Patron’s Review whereby an outstanding younger scholar is invited to contribute a review essay to Archives of Natural History.

Geoff has been a prolific author of scholarly papers on the history and bibliography of natural history. His publications, spanning a period of fifty years, include over 260 refereed papers on diverse topics including ecology, taxonomy, pollution and conservation; many in collaboration with colleagues and research students. His principal professional research interests lie in fisheries and marine ecology, so he is very well-informed about the history of work on marine natural history in waters around Great Britain. He has been especially interested in those naturalists who have been notable for teaching and writing and the institutions to which they belonged, and by extension, in broadcasters and writers and illustrators of “popular” natural histories.

The diversity of Geoff’s historical research is clear from the papers and short notes accepted for Archives of Natural History, from

Geoff’s fascinating paper on  The background to the proposition that plankton be used as food in the United Kingdom during the Second World War (38 (2): 287–299) detailing information that had been marked as ‘secret’ and which Geoff uncovered an archive at the Scottish Association for Marine Science proved extremely popular in the UK press including in The Scotsman and The Daily Mail.


The SHNH Founders’ Medal 2021 – 2022

Theodore W. Pietsch
SHNH Founders’ Medal 2022
Robert McCracken Peck
SHNH Founders’ Medal 2021
Geoffrey Hancock
SHNH Founders’ Medal 2021

The SHNH Founders’ Medal 2022

SHNH is delighted to award the prestigious SHNH Founder’s Medal this year to Professor Theodore “Ted” W. Piestch. The Founders’ Medal is awarded to persons who have made a substantial contribution to the study of the history or bibliography of natural history through a sustained record of high-quality publications, and a sustained contribution to dissemination of the history of natural history through practice or curation.

Ted Pietsch is Professor Emeritus in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and Curator Emeritus of Fishes at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington. He is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the Linnean Society of London, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the University of Washington Teaching Academy, and an Honorary Member of the Ichthyological Society of Japan.

He is interested primarily in marine ichthyology, especially the biosystematics, zoogeography, reproductive biology, and behavior of deep-sea fishes. As former curator of the Fish Collection of the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History (, he is also interested in natural history collections and collection building, and in biotic survey and inventory, the latter best exemplified by a decade-long series of expeditions to collect plants and animals on the islands of the Kuril Archipelago in the Russian Far East.

Ted also led a two-year floral and faunal survey of the Elwha River Valley on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington State. A book on the Fishes of the Salish Sea: Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca will soon be published by the UW Press.

Ted has also published extensively on the history of science, especially the history of ichthyology. Among the latter are works on the French comparative anatomist Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) and his 22-volume Histoire naturelle des poissons (1828–1849); bookdealer, publisher, and secret agent Louis Renard (1678/79–1746) and his Fishes, Crayfishes, and Crabs; the unpublished manuscripts of the seventeenth-century explorer-naturalist Charles Plumier (1646–1704); and on the history of natural history collection-building. His current efforts are directed toward an annotated, illustrated, English translation of Cuvier’s five-volume Histoire des sciences naturelles, depuis leur origine jusqu’a nos jours (1841­–1845), the first three volumes of which have already been published. (Source:

Definitive works on early ichthyologists include on: Peter Artedi (1705–1735), David Starr Jordan (1851–1931), Charles Henry Gilbert (1859–1928), and Edwin Chapin Starks (1867–1932).

Ted is also a regular contributor to Archives of Natural History published by Edinburgh University Press ( and his forthcoming article (ANH 49.1 2022 in press) is ‘Charles Plumier’s anatomical drawings and description of the American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus (1694–1697)”.

In speaking of the award, Ted Pietsch said: ‘I am thrilled beyond description!!  It’s such a great honour to be recognized in this way’.

The SHNH Founders’ Medals 2021

Founders’ Medals are awarded on the nomination of Council to persons eminent in the fields of the history and/or bibliography of natural history; the award recognises the following achievements:

  • A sustained record of high-quality publications in the field of the history of natural history.
  • A sustained contribution to dissemination of the history of natural history through practice or curation.

The Panel decided to award two medals, recognising that none were awarded last year, that the two outstanding candidates both more than fulfilled the required achievements and that awarding two medals coincided with the 85th anniversary of the SHNH.

E. Geoffrey (Geoff) Hancock has been described as an example of the ‘compleat naturalist’ with a career spanning more than 50 years. A generalist and a specialist with an outstanding knowledge of zoology, botany and geology, his publication list that runs into well over 220 papers, at least 48 of which directly concern the History of Natural History. His work in the history of entomology is nothing short of foundational and inspired many of the current practitioners in the field. He has that precious intangible ‘feel’ for collections, so important when dealing with historic specimens often with poor or confused histories. As a curator himself, he knows how important meticulous reconstructions of historic collection and care practices are not only for the history of natural history but also for contemporary curation of historic collections. As a hands-on curator, he has made an enormous contribution to the physical preservation, data integrity and accessibility of the Hunterian’s historic collections. His recent publication ‘William Hunters World – The Art and Science of Eighteenth Century Collecting‘ and its associate exhibition have helped to publicise the importance of William Hunter’s 18th C entomology collection.

Robert McCracken (Bob) Peck is an acclaimed writer, naturalist, and historian of science whose books show us the wonders of the natural world and of scientific discovery. He has participated in scientific expeditions to South America, Africa, and Asia, travelled extensively, and lectured and published widely on the history of science and the history of exploration. He is an outstanding example of how to communicate the wonders of the natural world, the stories behind the science of field work, and the remarkable histories of naturalists and early explorers, bringing them to wide audiences. His revised and updated publication on The Natural History of Edward Lear is due shortly [now published]. He has been widely recognised for his multiple achievements and scholarship. His body of work ideally fits the criteria for being awarded the SHNH Founders’ Medal: a sustained record of high-quality publications in the field of the history of natural history; and a sustained contribution to dissemination of the history of natural history through practice or curation.

Professor Tim Birkhead Founders’ Medal 2016

Recipients of the Founders’ Medal

  • 2023 Professor P. Geoffrey Moore

  • 2022 Professor Theodore W. Pietsch

  • 2021 Mr Robert McCracken Peck & Mr E. Geoffrey Hancock

  • 2019 Dr Henry Noltie

  • 2018  Professor Kraig Adler

  • 2017  Mr Edward Dickinson

  • 2016  Professor Tim Birkhead

  • 2015  Professor James A. Secord

  • 2014  Mr S. Peter Dance

  • 2013  Dr E. Charles Nelson

  • 2012  Dr Pat Morris

  • 2011  Sir David Attenborough OM CH FRS

  • 2009  Professor H. Walter Lack (Botany); Professor Hugh Torrens (Geology); and Dr Ray Williams (Zoology)

  • 2005  Dr L. C. (Kees) Rookmaaker

  • Professor Janet Browne
    Founders’ Medal 2003

    2003  Professor Janet Browne

  • 2001  Dr Gordon C. Sauer

  • 2000 Professor Gordon L. Herries Davies

  • 1998  Dr David E. Allen

  • 1997  Dr Frederick Burkhardt & Ms Nina J. Root

  • 1996  Mrs Christine E. Jackson

  • 1995  Professor Arthur J. Cain

  • 1994  Mr Ray G. C. Desmond

  • 1993  Mr Adrian J. Desmond

  • Sir David Attenborough Founder’s Medal 2011

    1992  Mr Gavin D. R. Bridson

  • 1991  Professor William A. S. Sarjeant

  • 1990  Dr Richard S. Cowan

  • 1989  Mr Harold B. Carter

  • 1988  Professor Martin J. S. Rudwick

  • 1986  Professor Joseph Ewan

  • Mrs Joan M. Eyles

  • Mr Richard B. Freeman

  • Mr Francis J. Griffin

  • Professor John L. Heller

  • Dr Lipke B. Holthuis

  • Professor Frans A. Stafleu

  • Professor William T. Stearn

  • Mr Alwyne Wheeler

  • Sir Eric Smith