The Ecological Society of Japan

Call for applicants for the 16th Biwako Prize for Ecology

Kihachiro Kikuzawa (Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Biwako Prize for Ecology)

The Biwako Prize for Ecology has been conferred by Shiga Prefecture 14 times, but the Ecological Society of Japan assumed responsibility for organizing this prize from the 15th award. The next prize will be the 16th—the second time the new Biwako Prize for Ecology has been organized and awarded by the Ecological Society of Japan.

An explanation for why Shiga Prefecture stopped organizing this internationally recognized award, and why the Ecological Society of Japan commenced doing so, is detailed in the text of the 15th edition. “What are the benefits for applicants and recipients if they won’t receive a monetary prize?” I think many. Prize money is spent, but the honor of being awarded this prestigious prize is everlasting. There will also be an award lecture.

Because I have a long career in research and education, I have routinely given lectures to students, and am also often asked to give public lectures. Because of this I feel that I have often spoken in public. However, at the end of the fiscal year I realized that I had only spoken publicly five times even in a year when I think it’s a lot, and on average, once or twice a year. Giving a public lecture presents a rare opportunity to summarize and present your research in an intelligible manner to a lay audience. It is not easy to do so, and often requires considerable preparation. This is not a negative aspect, because new ideas often develop during preparation. What if this was an award lecture? An opportunity for you alone? Opportunities like this are not presented many times in life.

The recipient of the 15th Biwako Prize for Ecology was Dr. Futoshi Nakamura of Hokkaido University. He was exactly 50 years old when bestowed this award (the age limit age to be considered). His more than 100 research achievements cover terrestrial and aquatic systems, and how one can affect the other. He also conducts applied and fundamental research, and large-scale and spectacular experiments that seem to go beyond just “experimenting”. He was the perfect candidate for the Biwako Prize. There is little point in my emphasizing something that is already done, but I am pleased that we were able to award this prize to such a perfect candidate.

I proposed “Let’s continue, even if there is no monetary prize because the prize has been awarded 14 times.” However, when it came true, I had been worried if there would be few applicants (and no further recipients). This distressed me. I asked colleagues and acquaintances to recommend good researchers for this prize, being the first time it would be awarded without financial reward. I express my gratitude to all who worked so hard to spread the word, and especially to all of those who applied. To those applicants who did not win the award this time, please do not be discouraged. Please apply again for the 16th prize. People who did not apply last time are also more than welcome to do so.

The Biwako Prize for Ecology is now organized by the Ecological Society of Japan, with the prize Steering Committee commissioned by the Ecological Society of Japan. Steering Committee members elected the chair of the 15th Steering Committee by mutual vote. Although I considered relinquishing my title for the 15th prize, I was asked to chair this committee again, and continue as chairperson for the 16th steering committee. A selection committee will be organized under the Steering Committee. Members of the selection committee will be determined after scrutinizing applicants, but I have already asked Dr. Jotaro Urabe to be chairperson. The selection committee will select award candidates and report to the Steering Committee, and the Steering Committee will make the final decision. Shiga Prefecture is the founder of this prize and will continue cooperating with us, but will not be the main organizer. The award ceremony will be held in Shiga Prefecture in early July of next year, with the governor presenting the award.