Each year, Palaeontologica Belgica awards a citizen scientist who made a special contribution to Belgian paleontology. The prize is named after Louis De Pauw (1844 -1918), autodidact and former head preparator of the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels. He played a major role in the salvage, mounting and display of the Iguanodons of Bernissart and the mammoth of Lier. Historically, the most iconic masterpieces of Belgian paleontology.
The award is given to a citizen scientist or a student who contributed to paleontological research in Belgium or within a Belgian context. The nominees are selected by the board of Palaeontologica Belgica and honoured at an annual award ceremony. The Louis the Pauw award is a prestigious token in recognition of the effort, hard work and love that went into (often non-funded) research. The award should be considered as a stimulus to continue paleontological research in a national framework. It is also a much needed gesture to give back the appreciation that we have for the countless citizen scientists who are an important and indispensable asset and driving force in modern-day natural sciences.
Louis De Pauw, had no academic background but devoted himself completely to paleontology and natural history at the Museum of Natural Sciences and the University of Brussels (ULB-VUB). this award is a small gesture to remind everyone that the collaboration between citizen scientists and professional scientists should become the new modern standard. It is also a powerful message that citizen science transcends the misconception of being a handy and low-cost tool for professional scientists who use large groups gather big data.
Together with the Louis De Pauw Award, Palaeontologica Belgica also awards a professional or academic paleontologist who actively collaborates with citizen scientists, and does a lot of outreach to a broad audience. By engaging and supporting scientific research beyond the academic and institutional borders, old ivory towers and hierarchic structures are being questioned and re-evaluated. To encourage this work ethic, we present the 'Paleontologica Belgica Award' to paleontologists who greatly value working with citizen scientists in a Belgian context and/or whose contributions to Belgian paleontology have made an important impact.
In a modern academic setting it it difficult to make an impact with very specific regional research. Publishing in small journals and consciously not aiming for the high-impact papers requires dedication and lots of courage, often frowned upon by peers in the scientific community. In times when the value of a scientist is greatly determined by the amount of large international research preferably published in high-impact journals, it would be considered as not done to publish your promising research in low impact journal. Lots of interesting scientific observations are therefore neglected because they aren't worthy of any high impact paper. Contributing to Belgian paleontological research and publishing in small local journals takes a lot of willpower and determination which we would like to revalue.
The Paleontologica Belgica award is an honorary recognition of the modern 21st century paleontologist, who actively collaborates with citizen scientist, who is not afraid to publish in low impact journals, who dares to think and act outside the box and who follows his passion for research, just for the love of research. All of these thing we value greatly and therefore, the award also includes an honorary membership into our organisation without any obligations.
The winners of the 'Louis De Pauw & Palaeontologica Belgica Awards will be announced online after the annual award ceremony