Conservation Scientist Eleanor Sterling Recognized with Two Awards

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Eleanor Sterling, chief conservation scientist at the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC), has received two prestigious awards for her lifetime commitment to conservation action.

The Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has awarded Sterling with a Wilbur Cross Medal, the school’s highest honor for alumni. Sterling was selected for her “enormous impact in spheres ranging from the communication of conservation science to the public to front line research on endangered species and ecosystems around the planet.”

Sterling received a B.A. degree from Yale in 1983, and M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology and forestry and environmental studies from the school 10 years later.

In addition, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) selected Sterling as the co-recipient of the inaugural Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy award for Meritorious Research in recognition of her “outstanding and inspirational research over a career specializing in the importance of inter-disciplinary collaboration, bridging science and social science, research and practice in the pursuit of beneficial, equitable and just forms of biodiversity conservation.”

Researcher in wet suit holds sea turtle.
Eleanor Sterling, shown with sea turtle, has nearly 30 years of field research experience around the world.
Courtesy of Eleanor Sterling

 As the CBC’s chief conservation scientist, Sterling advances the center’s key research initiatives and develops global opportunities and partnerships while working to raise awareness and the impact of lessons learned.

Sterling served as the director of the CBC for 14 years, during which time she led the development and coordination of the center’s national and international field projects. In 2001, she spearheaded the establishment of the CBC’s Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners, which works to create and implement educational materials and teaching resources for biodiversity conservation around the world. 



In her capacity as a conservation biologist, Sterling has almost 30 years of field research experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where she conducted behavioral, ecological, and genetic studies of primates, whales, and sea turtles.

Her research has taken her to some of the most biologically rich, but least studied regions of the world, while also serving as curator of several exhibitions in her time at the Museum, most recently Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture.