Secretary’s 2018 Research Awards presented

From music to mail and spectral energy to sustainability, Smithsonian research touches ever facet of our world–and beyond.

The recipients of the Secretary’s Research Prizes for 2018 were recognized at an awards ceremony Sept. 18. The presentation of the awards was followed by the fifth annual Bruce “Will” Morrison (former Director in the Office of Grants and Fellowships (now OFI)) memorial lecture by Dr. Melissa Songer, Conservation Biologist at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and the 2011 Chair of the Smithsonian Congress of Scholars. Dr. Songer’s topic is “Beyond the Border: Smithsonian’s Leadership in International Conservation Science.”

As he introduced the recipients of this years’ awards, Secretary David Skorton noted,

“The renowned Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston wrote that, ‘Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein.’

“For the past 172 years, the Smithsonian has purposefully poked and pried, doing first-rate scholarly research that has advanced our understanding of the universe around us.

“Smithsonian researchers, including more than 1,200 research associates and nearly 800 fellows, discover new viruses, work to save endangered languages, and study techniques to preserve art. Smithsonian research recently even helped launch a probe straight into the sun.

“For their work, Smithsonian researchers have been recognized with membership in the National Academies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. One of our colleagues is even a Nobel laureate in physics—the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Robert Wilson.

“I’m proud to highlight the research you do.And thanks again to all of today’s winners. You are helping us learn the secrets of the world, from the cosmic to the cultural, the anthropological to the artistic.”

Songer in the field

Dr. Melissa Songer taking a break from tracking a conflict elephant for collaring in the Bago Yoma, Myanmar. (Photo courtesy of Christie Sampson.)

The 2018 recipients are:

Dr. Joshua Bell, National Museum of Natural History, for the article “A Bundle of Relations: Collections, Collecting and Communities” published in the Annual Review of Anthropology.
Dr. Igor Chilingaryan, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for the article “RCSED–A Value-added Reference Catalog of Spectral Energy Distributions of 800,299 Galaxies in 11 Ultraviolet, Optical, and Near-infrared Bands” published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.
Drs. Robert Fleischer and Kevin Mulder, National Zoological Park, for the co-authored article “No paternal genetic integration in desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) following translocation into an existing population” published in the journal Biological Conservation.
Ms. Lynn Heidelbaugh, National Postal Museum, for the exhibit “My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I.”
Dr. Michael Johnson, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for the article “Dynamical Imaging with Interferometry” published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Dr. Jeremy Kinney, National Air and Space Museum, for the book Reinventing the Propeller: Aeronautical Specialty and the Triumph of the Modern Airplane published by Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Dr. Huib Schippers, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, for the book Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures: An Ecological Perspective published by Oxford University Press, 2016

These pan-Institutional prizes recognize excellence in recent research by the Institution’s employees and carry a $2,000 award to the primary author’s research account. The work of the recipients of the Secretary’s Research Prizes underwent peer review, and a committee representing research areas across the spectrum of Smithsonian scholarship recommended the finalists.

Posted: 18 September 2018
About the Author:

The Torch editor is fired with a burning desire to ignite the flames of enthusiasm among her Smithsonian colleagues while brandishing the Torch of knowledge. She also likes puns.