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Gertrude Elles Award

The Palaeontological Association recognizes excellence in our profession by the award of medals and other prizes. The Association sees its lists of medals and award winners as a record of the very best palaeontologists worldwide, at different career stages, and offering different kinds of contributions to the field. The Association stresses the importance of nominations and encourages all members to make nominations. Members considering making nominations should first read the Palaeontological Association ‘Statement of Diversity’ below.

Statement of Diversity

The Palaeontological Association has an Unconscious Bias document, the recommendations of which will be adhered to at all times. All decision-making for Palaeontological Association awards and prizes will be carried out objectively and professionally. The Association is committed to making award and prize decisions purely on the basis of the merit of the individual(s). No nominee for awards or prizes will receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of: gender, marital status, sexual orientation, gender re-assignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins, religion or similar philosophical belief, spent criminal conviction, age or disability. Equally, all nominations will be assessed on equal terms, regardless of the gender, age and/or ethnicity of the nominee. Nominations will therefore be assessed and graded on their merits, in accordance with the criteria and the aims and objectives set for each award or medal. Due consideration will be given to any period away from science due to parental leave, illness and any other such career break. Nominators are reminded that neutral language (e.g. gender neutral) should be used in all nominations.

The Palaeontological Association acknowledges the existence of various academic career paths and recognises the challenges associated with balancing an academic career alongside personal commitments. When assessing applicants' eligibility and experience, the Association will take into account periods spent outside the academic environment. These periods may be the result of  ill health, parental and/or adoptive leave, caring responsibilities, career breaks, etc. (note that this list is not exhaustive). Applicants who have taken periods outside the academic environment are strongly encouraged to include this information in any grant/award application. Furthermore, individuals with any disabilities are strongly encouraged to highlight these aspects in their applications. In the event that these factors apply to an applicant, even if no work leave was taken, we strongly advise that applicants make these factors known during the application process as we are aware that such factors can significantly slow down past and ongoing academic careers. 

In the case of awards granted through the nomination schemes, we ask that nominators bring attention to these aspects if they are aware of them. In the event that the nominators are unsure, they are strongly advised to contact the Diversity Officer (, who can approach the nominee directly and inquire whether they would like to disclose any career breaks or other relevant factors that should be taken into consideration during the evaluation of the award. The Diversity Officer ( can be contacted at any time for advice and assistance.

Palaeontological Association Awards/Medals selection procedures

Council discusses Awards and Medals at the May Council meeting. Voting to select awardees occurs at the meeting or soon after the meeting electronically. The benefit of using Council to select awardees, rather than a dedicated awards committee, is that it draws on the wider experience of the entire Council. Voting is preceded by an introduction from the President and/or Secretary, either verbally or in a written format, that: (i) includes a diversity statement to remind Council of their responsibility in terms of fairness and diversity issues (including impact of non-standard careers etc.); (ii) outlines the remit and selection criteria for each award; (iii) considers the impact of awardees in terms of increasing the diversity of recipients. Each award is considered in turn with every application considered except those that clearly fall outside of the remit. Normally only one candidate will be awarded in each category per year. However, at Council’s discretion and in exceptional circumstances more than one award in any one category may be bestowed if this is deemed appropriate.

In normal circumstances selection of awardees is conducted by a modified form of supplemental voting, where each Council Member votes by listing their three preferred candidates in rank order (1st to 3rd). The candidate(s) with the most votes as preferred candidate will be awarded the award/medal. If there are only two candidates and they are tied the President shall have the casting vote. If there are three or more candidates and a tie, the second ranked candidates will be added to the tally. If the result remains tied, then the third ranked votes are incorporated. If the vote still remains tied the President will cast the deciding vote or (in exceptional circumstances) will ask Council to consider awarding multiple awards/medals.

Nominations that are unsuccessful will be rolled over for a further two years, unless this takes them outside of the award/medal remit. The nominees will have the opportunity to revise the nomination each year by contacting the Secretary. After the three-year period elapses re-nomination is possible as long as the application continues to fall within the award/medal remit.

The Gertrude Elles Award

The Gertrude Elles Award is to promote high-quality public engagement in the field of palaeontology. The award is made by Council for high quality, amateur or institutional, public engagement projects that promote the discipline. Nominated projects can include museum displays and exhibitions, outreach programmes to schools and/or communities, art/science collaborations, digital initiatives, or any other programme that falls broadly under the heading of public engagement with palaeontology.

Nominations must consist of a one-page supporting case (font-size 12) and a portfolio of up to four images. The supporting case must outline:

  • the aims of the project
  • the nature of the target audience
  • the available budget and funding sources
  • visitor/audience numbers
  • the results of project evaluation to demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of the project
  • links to any digital components
  • mechanisms for obtaining feedback

Self-nominations are permitted, and the nominators (names and contacts details required) and proposed recipients do not need to be members of the Association. Nominations will be considered relative to the scale of the institution and the available project budget. The supporting case and the portfolio of images must be compiled into a PDF file of less than 10 MB and uploaded via this webpage by the deadline.

In addition, we ask that nominations are accompanied by Professional Standards and Behaviour declarations. If the nomination is for a 3rd party please use: 

If this is a self-domination please use: 


The completed Professional Standards and Behaviour forms should be either combined with the aforementioned PDF or emailed separately to the Secretary and/or Executive Officer.

The award will be considered by Council at its May meeting and winners will be invited to the award ceremony at the Annual Meeting and/or the AGM. Awards will also be announced in the Newsletter, on the Association website and through social media. Council reserves the right not to make an award in any year.

Nominations are invited by 31st March each year.

​Full list of previous recipients can be viewed here: Medal and Award Winners


31st March at 23:59 GMT


Nomination Form

Gertrude Elles

Completing her studies in 1891, when the University of Cambridge did not yet award degrees to women, Gertrude Elles (1872-1960) was the first woman to become a university reader at the University of Cambridge, UK. Elles is known for her work on graptolites and Lower Palaeozoic stratigraphy, and she pioneered the concept of communities of fossil organisms. In 1919 she became one of the first women to become a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and received their Murchison Medal in recognition of her work. Her contribution to the study and classification of graptolites was fundamental and still forms an important part of graptolite research.

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