The Herpetologists’ League

Raymond D. Semlitsch Research Award

The Herpetologists’ League offers a competitive research award for early career faculty in memory of Raymond D. Semlitsch, a consummate field ecologist and experimental biologist who dedicated his life’s work to understanding the ecology and evolution of amphibians and reptiles.  Ray Semlitsch spent the last 20 years of his career at the University of Missouri-Columbia examining ecological questions that could offer management solutions for the conservation of amphibians, and our understanding of amphibians is richer from his efforts.  The Raymond D. Semlitsch Research Award will support research on the ecology, evolution, and conservation of amphibians and reptiles, with particular interest in research on contemporary questions that helps bridge disciplines and that incorporates manipulative, experimental approaches.  Funding for this award was initiated in 2016 by one of Ray’s early mentors, Dr. James R. Spotila. The award will be accompanied by a $5,000 research grant to be administered by the recipient’s university or equivalent research institution.


  1. A grant of $5,000 is awarded to one applicant yearly.
  2. Proposals for the current round must be received by 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time on MAY 31, 2024.
  3. Send a completed application as a single PDF electronically to the committee Chair, Travis Ryan ( Please put “Semlitsch Research Award” in the subject line.  You should receive a confirmation email within 48 hours.
  4. Proposals will be evaluated by the review committee before the annual JMIH meeting.
  5. Funding will be disbursed and the winner of the award will be announced at the opening plenary of JMIH.


  1. The applicant must be a member in good standing of The Herpetologists’ League.
  2. The applicant must have a Ph.D.
  3. The applicant must be an early-career faculty, typically an Assistant Professor in a tenure-track position, or the equivalent in a non-university setting. Applicants in the latter category (i.e., job title other than “Assistant Professor” or at an institution that does not award tenure) must contact the committee chair prior to submitting an application and provide additional information about the nature of their position so the award committee can judge their eligibility. Those holding 100% teaching positions or non-tenure track/non-permanent research scientist positions are not eligible for this award.
  4. Projects must be original proposals that are authored by the applicant to be conducted within her/his lab. Proposals that help support the research efforts of graduate students and undergraduate students are encouraged.
  5. One proposal per applicant per year.
  6. Previous winners are NOT eligible for the award in subsequent years.
  7. A 1-2 page report summarizing research findings and expected publications or other outcomes of the project, as well as a financial statement from the host institution, are due to the secretary of HL one year after receipt of the award. Award recipients are asked to acknowledge “The Herpetologists’ League Raymond D. Semlitsch Research Award” in all publications arising from work supported by this grant.

Preparation Guidelines:

Incorrectly formatted proposals will not be considered.

  1. A completed proposal will consist of a cover page (1 page), project description (4 pages), budget and budget justification (1 page), citations, and a CV (<5 pages) as a single PDF document (cumulative maximum proposal length = 11 pages, excluding citations).
  2. The cover page should include the title of the project and the applicant’s name, mailing address, email address, institutional affiliation, position title and years at the institution.
  3. The project description should include the following sections: Introduction, Objectives and Hypotheses, Methods, and Expected Significance. The project description is limited to 4 pages, not including citations, budget, cover page, and CV.
  4. A 1-page budget and budget justification should indicate how funds would be used, and any additional sources of funding requested, pending, or currently available for the proposed project. This award will not cover indirect costs.
  5. Include a curriculum vitae, up to 5 pages, with educational and professional background, publications, funding, and any other relevant information. Information on the applicant’s current professional appointment should clearly demonstrate their eligibility for the award.
  6. Use single spacing, 12-point font, and 1-inch margins throughout the entire document.
  7. Name the file with your last name and first and middle initials (e.g., SemlitschRD).
  8. Evaluation: Complete proposals will be evaluated by a committee based on merit of the proposal, likelihood of success, potential to impact the field of amphibian and/or reptile ecology, evolution, and conservation, and the credentials of the applicant.

Previous Award Recipients:

2023 Todd W. Pierson, Kennesaw State University, “Spatial variation in the relative frequency of alternative reproductive tactics in plethodontid salamanders” 

2022 Rayna Bell, California Academy of Sciences, “Historical prevalence of the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in West Africa’s amphibians”

2021    Molly Womack, Utah State University, “Evolving thicker skin: Understanding how adaptations to a universal trade-off influence the ecology and physiology of anurans”

2021    Breanna Putman, California State University, San Bernardino, “The New Normal: What makes animals prepared to survive wildfires?”

2020 Craig Lind, Stockton University, “Refining empirical estimates of the energetic cost of coping with ophidiomycosis in free-living snakes”

2019    Matthew Lattanzio, Christopher Newport University, “Shifts in body size and sexual size dimorphism in response to recent climate change: A life history framework”

2018    William Peterman, The Ohio State University, “The Genetics and Demographics of Amphibian Population Translocation”

2017    Amanda Zellmer, Occidental College, “Integrating genomics, citizen science, and fine-scale niche modeling to quantify microgeographic diversification of urban Batrachoseps salamanders”

2016    Kristen Cecala, University of the South, “Will rising temperatures affect species interactions and elevate climate associated risk of amphibian extinctions?”


If you are not eligible for this award, but would like to help support the research of early career professionals in herpetology, please send donations for the Raymond D. Semlitsch Research Award to:

Laurie Mauger, HL Treasurer

Southern Utah University

Department of Biology

351 W. University Blvd

Cedar City, UT 84720

Thank you for your support!