SURA Distinguished Service Awards

In 2006, the Board of Trustees established two SURA Distinguished Service Awards: the Distinguished Scientist Award* and the Distinguished Friend of Science Award*. These are presented to individuals who have worked to support the SURA mission “to advance collaborative research and to strengthen the scientific capabilities of its members and nation.” (Awards come with a cash honorarium.)

SURA presented its 2017 Distinguished Scientist Award to Thomas J.R. Hughes of  the University of Texas on April 19, 2017 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (See Press Release.)

[L to R]  Betsy Beise, SURA Board of Trustees Chair and Associate Provost, University of Maryland; Hughes; Jerry P. Draayer, SURA President & CEO; and, Kelvin Droegemeier, SURA Board of Trustees Vice Chair and Vice President of Research, the University of Oklahoma.


2018 SURA Distinguished Scientist Award Nomination Process & Timeline

The Development & Relations Committee will solicit, screen, and select recipients of the SURA Distinguished Scientist Award.  Up to two awards, with an honorarium of $5,000 each, will be selected annually for presentation at SURA’s Spring Board of Trustees meeting.

A subcommittee will be selected to screen nominations to honor scientists engaged in outstanding research programs at SURA member institutions.  The subcommittee will be deliberative in recognizing alignment with ongoing SURA initiatives, especially when these embrace collaboration.  The subcommittee will also be deliberative in recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion.

After receiving 4 to 6 finalists from the subcommittee, the Development & Relations Committee will select one or two recipients for the award.  Past SURA award recipients will be invited to participate in the balloting.  After the selection is complete, SURA will notify candidates and their nominators of the outcome, and invite finalist nominators to consider the option of their nominee be to among the following year’s candidates.

The following guidelines will govern the 2018 award nomination process:

(1) Only SURA Board of Trustees and Council of Presidents members are eligible to submit a nomination (limited to one nomination per SURA member institution.)

(2) All nomination materials must be submitted in electronic form and directed to the SURA Chief Public Affairs Officer, who will support the Committees’ work, at

(3) The nomination period will close on December 5, 2017 at 5 p.m. EST, to insure adequate time for committee deliberation and advance notification of the recipient.

(4) Nomination materials should include:

  • A concise letter of nomination on the qualifications of the nominee from the trustee or president, as well as contact information for the nominee;
  • A comprehensive and up-to-date curriculum vitae or biographical sketch of the nominee; and
  • Up to five additional letters of endorsement, submitted on behalf of a nominee, limited to 2 pages each. (Letters from outside the institution are particularly desirable.)

(5) Preference will be given to scientists whose research program brings exceptional recognition to work being performed at a SURA member institution, is aligned with ongoing SURA programs or initiatives, and is collaborative in nature.  The committee encourages broad diversity and will be mindful of both past institutional and gender representation with respect to previous awardees, in considering the 2018 award.

(6) No Board of Trustee member within the past two years, nor previous recipients, will be eligible for the Distinguished Scientist Award. 

Spring 2017:  SURA Honors Texas University Professor As Distinguished Scientist
Spring 2016: GA Tech Nanotech Professor Honored As Distinguished Scientist
Spring 2015:  SURA Honors Florida Pharmacy Dean As Distinguished Scientist
Spring 2014: SURA Honors Georgia Tech Biologist As Distinguished Scientist
Spring 2013: Rice University IT Professor Named SURA Distinguished Scientist
Fall 2012: SURA to Honor Task Force for American Innovation
Spring 2012: SURA Honors University of Georgia Chemist As Distinguished Scientist
Fall 2011: SURA to Honor Former NSF Director, White House Science Advisor
Spring 2011: U of SC Chemist Named SURA Distinguished Scientist
Fall 2010: SURA to Honored Former Governor Robb
Spring 2010: UT Austin Professor Named SURA Distinguished Scientist
Fall 2009: Augustine Honored with Friend of Science Award
Spring 2009: SURA Names U of TX Chemist “Distinguished Scientist”
Spring 2008: U of FL Microbiologist Named SURA Distinguished Scientist
Fall 2007: Senator Warner Awarded “Friend of Science” by SURA
Spring 2007: UGA Biologist, Wessler, Named SURA Distinguished Scientist
Fall 2006: Senator Alexander Honored with “Friend of Science” Award

* SURA Distinguished Friend of Science Award – (To be presented at the Fall Board of Trustees meeting, selected by the SURA Executive Committee) Presented to an individual whose extraordinary efforts fulfill the SURA mission to “advance collaborative research and education and to strengthen the scientific capabilities of its members and the nation.” This award is to be presented to an individual whose extraordinary efforts in the private sector, or in a federal, state or local governmental capacity serve, or have served, to fulfill the SURA mission. The award comes with a $10,000 honorarium, which can be designated to a higher education charitable cause.

* SURA Distinguished Scientist Award – (To be presented at SURA Spring Board of Trustees meeting hosted at a SURA member institution campus.) Presented to research scientists from a SURA member institution whose extraordinary work fulfills the SURA mission to “advance collaborative research and strengthen the scientific capabilities of its members and the nation.”  The award comes with a $5,000 cash honorarium.