Call for nominations: The Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture

The Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award celebrates excellence in all branches of Smithsonian scholarship by honoring the sustained achievement of one outstanding Smithsonian scholar each year. The recipient is asked to deliver a lecture to the Smithsonian community on his or her research, and a reception is held in their honor.

This annual award has been given 12 times in the past. It is sponsored by the Secretary and the offices of the Undersecretary for Science and Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture. Nominations are reviewed by a committee of Smithsonian scholars whose membership is overseen by the Smithsonian Congress of Scholars.

The criteria for the award are:

  • Sustained achievements in research,
  • Longstanding investment in the Smithsonian,
  • Outstanding contribution to a field or fields of research, either broadening the scope of a discipline or substantially enhancing understanding within a field of study, and
  • Ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience.

Nominations are solicited from all Smithsonian staff, and should include the following materials:

  • A nominating letter that explicitly addresses each of the four selection criteria,
  • An independent letter from another Smithsonian staff member that supplies additional information or perspective on the nominee; additional letters of support also may be submitted, and
  • The nominee’s  current curriculum vitae.

Self-nominations are not permitted. Nominations will be kept active for three years unless withdrawn. All active Smithsonian staff members are eligible for consideration. Emeritus staff are not eligible.

Nominations should be submitted via e-mail by close of business April 16 to

The 2012 selection committee consists of:

  • Adrienne Kaeppler, National Museum of Natural History
  • Bert Drake, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
  • Cynthia Mills, Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • David DeVorkin, Chair, National Air and Space Museum
  • Giovanni Fazio, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Jason Stieber, Archives of American Art
  • Katherine Ott, National Museum of American History
  • Kenneth Slowik, American History
  • Tom Crouch, Air and Space
  • William Wcislo, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

For further information please contact David DeVorkin at 202-633-2425 or

Posted: 2 March 2012
About the Author:

The Torch relies on contributions from the entire Smithsonian community.