Award Descriptions

The Awards Committee is responsible for selection of the following awards that will be announced at the awards ceremony on May 3, 2019:

The Outstanding Staff Employee Awards (also includes Hourly Employees) honor those employees who demonstrate an outstanding performance and/or a continuing record of competence in their area of responsibility. Nomination statements should consider such things as: job competency, positive attitude toward job and co-workers, demonstration of innovative approaches to solving problems or completing tasks, dependability, and a willingness to get the job done regardless of how tedious or difficult it proves to be. The award categories are:

  1. Facilities/Safety/Trades - Those persons whose primary responsibilities are to plan and monitor construction of new facilities, maintain, keep functional, or repair buildings, grounds, vessels, or vehicles of the Institute. Duties include but not limited to providing custodial, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, grounds work, or carpentry skills necessary to support Institute operations, or to creating and maintaining safe and healthy working conditions in our laboratories, offices, on our grounds, on our vessels, while diving or in the field, for all VIMS/SMS personnel.
  2. Administrative Support - Those persons whose primary role is to operate in an interactive working relationship with faculty, scientific staff, and students. They assist in maintaining the financial and administrative integrity of the Institute, a role critical to completing projects in a timely and efficient manner. The diverse responsibilities include but are not limited to secretarial, office services, program support, accounting, grants/contracts administration, budget maintenance, purchasing, property, and information technology support staff.
  3. Technical Support - Those persons whose primary responsibilities are to provide technical support and expertise in the laboratory and field as they work in concert with faculty to 1) collect and process samples, 2) generate and analyze data, and/or 3) develop and service instrumentation to provide analytical tools and skills in scientific research or advisory services.

 The John M. & Marilyn Zeigler Student Achievement Award honors the past contributions of Dr. John Zeigler, the first SMS Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and the continuing contributions of Mrs. Marilyn Zeigler to student needs. The award represents an opportunity to formally recognize our students and the genuine contribution they make to the Institute through their participation in our research, educational, and advisory programs. Eligible students are those who are presently enrolled in VIMS/SMS.  The award will be based on scholarship, leadership, research initiative, outstanding publications, and/or exceptional thesis or dissertation work. Outside recognition by such organizations as the National Science Foundation, National Research Council, and professional societies will also be considered.

The Outstanding Professionals and Professional Researcher Award is to be presented to a professional member who has achieved success in conducting original research, research as a Co-principal investigator, or as a member of a research program. Candidates should possess a record of peer reviewed publications (degree of authorship, i.e. primary, secondary, or other, will be strongly considered), presentations at scientific conferences, successful grant awards, and service as a reviewer for scientific journals and research proposals. Preference for recognition will also be given for authorship of gray literature contributions, grant reports, number of submitted proposals, research program management and initiative, and service as an officer in scientific societies and/or professional scientific organizations. 

The Outstanding Professionals and Professional Administrator Award is to be presented to a professional member showing significant contributions and a record of outstanding performance towards fulfilling VIMS’ administrative mandates.   They must demonstrate professional excellence and a continuing record of proficiency in their area of responsibility.  Nominations should address individual accomplishments, exemplary service to the Institution, and demonstrated leadership.

The Outstanding Faculty Advisory Service Award - is presented to a faculty member who exhibits outstanding dedication and success in the advisory service area of VIMS/SMS programs. Among the things to consider are the contributions made in educating, advising, and informing the public, as well as business and government sectors. The beneficial results of such efforts should be specific, e.g., how effectively and diligently the individual applies the VIMS/SMS knowledge base, resources and personnel talent to the resource management/information needs of others. Consideration should also be given to how the individual interacts with other staff, faculty, and students to make our research and education output of maximum use in meeting the demands of interest groups from the local-regional-national coastal community. 

The Excellence for VIMS Award - rrecognizes a member of staff (hourly, classified, operational, or PPF) who continually goes above and beyond their assigned job duties to better the institution in some manner. This individual’s contributions will likely not fit into another award category as their contributions transcend specific mission mandates. Individuals may be nominated for consideration for this award and the Committee may move nomination materials submitted to a different category into this award.

The Robert M. Freeman Volunteer of the Year Award is intended to provide recognition to a volunteer who has displayed exceptional performance in the support and improvement of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, in honor of the late Robert M. Freeman of the VIMS Council.


A panel of members of the Graduate Student Association will recommend finalists for the following award to the Associate Dean of Academic Studies and the Dean and Director for final review and selection:

The Excellence in Mentoring Award is presented annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated considerable mastery of the broad spectrum of activities associated with outstanding mentoring of graduate students of the School of Marine Science. Please see the full award description and criteria for nominating instructions.

The Associate Dean of Academic Studies, faculty members, and core-course instructors decide on recipients of the following four student awards:

The Matthew Fontaine Maury Student Fellowship Award - This fellowship endowment is made possible by a gift and pledge of Captain J. Maury Werth, USN (Ret), and the others to honor his great-grandfather Matthew Fontaine Maury, a son of Virginia, often referred to as the “Father of Oceanography” for his pioneering work and studies in physical oceanography and meteorology. In the past, this award was made by the faculty in the Department of Physical Sciences to recognize outstanding student accomplishment in the field of Physical Sciences. Starting in 1998, this award became open to the entire student body. This award will recognize strong interdisciplinary marine or environmental research and achievements. The recipient will be accomplished in more than one area of specialization and will have integrated these areas into his or her thesis/dissertation work. The award will be based on interdisciplinary scholarship, research and/or policy/management efforts, outstanding publications, thesis or dissertation work. Outside recognition by such professional organizations and societies will also be considered. Eligible students are those who are presently enrolled in VIMS/SMS and are not graduating this year.

William J. Hargis, Jr. Fellowship Award - This award is supported by the William J. Hargis, Jr. Endowment to honor the former longtime Dean and Director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. The award is made each year to the first-year student or students, who, in the judgment of the core-course instructors, demonstrate(s) superior academic performance and exceptional promise for a successful career in marine science.

Craig L. Smith Memorial Educational Scholarship - The Craig L. Smith Memorial Educational Scholarship is to provide scholarship assistance for an academically distinguished graduate student with demonstrated financial need at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Kelley Watson Fellowship - The Kelley Watson Fellowship, formerly known as the Dean’s Fellowship, is intended to recognize a student who -- although not supported by a first-year fellowship -- exhibits academic excellence and leadership in the core courses during the first year of graduate study. The fellowship is named in the memory of Kelley Watson, a member of the incoming class of September 2000, who impressed her teachers and fellow students with her enthusiasm, commitment to academic excellence, and strong promise for a successful marine science career.


A panel of relevant faculty, generally including a member of the Fisheries Department or of related disciplines, decides on the recipient for an additional student award:

John E. Olney, Sr. Ichthyology Award – The John E. Olney, Sr. Ichthyology Award is supported by the John E. Olney, Sr. Endowment to celebrate the life and accomplishments of former VIMS Professor John Olney, who lost a courageous battle with cancer in early 2010.  The award is to be made to a graduate student or post-doctoral researcher with proven academic distinction in systematic ichthyology, development and early life history of fishes, taxonomy and descriptive studies, and/or recruitment processes and the role of larval fish dynamics in fisheries stock assessment.  

A panel of relevant faculty in the Physical Sciences Department decides on the recipient of the following award:

The Nichols Student Travel Award - This award, funded by Emeritus Professor Maynard Nichols and E. Jane Nichols, helps students travel to conferences or workshops to share their research with national or international scientific audiences.