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SETAC Rachel Carson Award
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The Rachel Carson Award is bestowed only once every four years at a SETAC World Congress and was initiated on the 25th anniversary of the publication of “Silent Spring.” Rachel Carson was a scientist and science writer who through her literary skills increased awareness among the public for the natural world and potential threats to that world. To this end, Rachel Carson was recognized as a meticulous researcher who attempted to assemble and synthesize information and make that information accessible to the public. She worked hard to be sure of her facts. Her greatest mission was making the science accessible to a wider audience.

Key elements of the Rachel Carson Award are therefore:

  • A desire to help others understand and become more aware of the natural world and appreciate the potential threats that anthropogenic stressors may have on the integrity and functioning of that world
  • A demand for accuracy in assembling and using scientific facts to present, support, and ultimately defend writings or other forms of communication
  • A broad view of environmental issues that includes habitat and physical impacts as well as chemicals
  • A recognition for the need for education
  • A desire to make science more accessible to the public
  • A voice for political change, even in the face of controversy.


Membership of SETAC is not a prerequisite for this award, which is open to an individual or a group acting to promote science, its accurate assembly and reporting, and its accessibility to the wider public.

Application Instructions

Applications are welcomed from individuals and groups nominating themselves as well as applications submitted in support of a candidate or group other than themselves.

The next award will be given in 2020 and applications should be submitted electronically to Rebecca Bundschuh. Please submit all documentation together, either in a zipped file or in a PDF. 

Applications should include

  • A letter outlining the eligibility of the nominee for the award
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A supporting letter from a minimum of 2 additional sponsors explaining why they believe the candidate or group should be considered for the award.
  • Sufficient information should be provided to facilitate an objective evaluation of the nominee, hence evidence of the attributes of the nominee and the conduct of activities embracing the elements of the award shown above must be provided. The nominee or his/her nominator should provide evidence of the candidate's effectiveness in influence and outreach through either a science citation index review or other communication/media indicators (book sales, non-peer reviewed articles, etc.)

Selection Process

Nominations will be evaluated independently by members of the SETAC World Council Global Awards Committee using a standardized score sheet. Candidates will be ranked, and the committee will then discuss the outcome to determine the recipient. If agreement is not reached by the committee, a resolution will be made by the SETAC World Council.

Award Procedure

The Rachel Carson Award will be presented at a SETAC World Congress. An appropriate certificate or plaque is given to the awardee at the time of presentation. The recipient may be requested to give a brief presentation, but this is at the discretion of the President of SETAC. The society will pay for the travel and related expenses and will waive the registration fee of the recipient.

Past Award Winners

  • David Schindler, 2016 
  • Lars-Otto Reiersen, 2012
  • Timothy Flannery, 2008
  • Daniel W. Anderson, 2004
  • Edward O. Wilson, 2004
  • Theo Colborn, 2003
  • David Pimentel, 2002
  • Lucille F. Stickel, 1998
  • Richard A. Conway, 1997
  • Robert Bateman, 1996
  • Raymond Loehr, 1995
  • Jack Vallentyne, 1992
  • Sherwood Roland, 1988