Robert Cushman Murphy Prize 2016-12-05T11:04:43-05:00

Robert Cushman Murphy Prize

The Robert Cushman Murphy Prize highlights either a lifetime of exceptional, published research, or a single extraordinary research accomplishment that has resulted in a major redirection of studies on waterbirds. It honors the memory of one of the giants in the field, the author of Oceanic Birds of South America, a landmark first published in 1936 and still an essential reference 60 years later.


Nominees for this award are selected by the Awards Committee of the Waterbird Society, who make their recommendation to the Council for a decision. Provide a 1-2 page document justifying the individual’s service, scientific or conservation contributions. Nominations should be emailed to chairperson Sarah Karpanty at by September 30th. The awards are presented by the President of the Society at the annual general meeting.

About Robert Cushman Murphy

Robert Cushman MurphyRobert Cushman Murphy was one of the 20th century’s great ornithologists. For six decades he traveled the world in search of new and rare birds with the Museum of Natural History in New York City. In 1936, he penned Oceanic Birds of South America that went on to win the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for excellence in natural history and the Brewster Medal of the American Ornithologists Union. Murphy found bones of an extinct moa in New Zealand, and the first live cahow last seen in the early seventeenth century. Murphy’s name has been attached to a louse, fish, plant, lizard, an Antarctic inlet, spider, and two mountains. Robert Cushman Murphy died in 1973.

Past recipients of the Robert Cushman Murphy Prize

  • Dr. Peter H. Becker, 2014, for his lifelong biological studies of the Common Tern in Europe.
  • Rudi H. Drent, 2001, for his work on the energetics of avian parental behavior from the standpoint of individual optimization.
  • Dr. Pierre Jouventin, 1997, for his work on reproductive strategies of seabirds in the French sub-Antarctic and Antarctic territories.
  • Dr. John P. Croxall, 1996, for his work on seabirds and marine mammal communities in the Southern Ocean.
  • Dr. John C. Coulson, 1993, for his outstanding contributions to the ecology of colonial waterbirds.