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Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship Award

Nomination Form

Valeria Souza - 2020

Valeria Souza is an ecologist whose research and conservation efforts focus on the Cuatro Ciénegas basin in northern Mexico. The Cuatro Ciénegas is a spring-fed wetland complex that supports numerous endemic microbes, snails, crustaceans, aquatic insects, fishes, and the world’s only aquatic species of box turtle. Valeria’s research is documenting threats to critical habitat within this global biodiversity hotspot due to increased groundwater extraction in the region.

Valeria’s research translates into outreach that builds support for conservation. She developed a biology curriculum that educates students about the value of spring ecosystems and provides pathways through local governmental and academic institutions that lead to employment. Investment in education and opportunity is transforming rural high schools in the region while building social awareness about environmental issues. Valeria also regularly organizes events that link scientists working in the basin with local people, initiates production of public media that highlight the wonders of and threats to Cuatro Ciénegas and promotes biodiversity loss issues through numerous Mexican and international news outlets.

Valeria has persisted as a conservation voice for Cuatro Ciénegas by taking every opportunity to reach out, bridge divides and seek solutions that benefit everyone. Her work has increased local environmental regulation and attracted the attention of Mexico’s most influential figures. Valeria’s balanced research and outreach approach inspired a charitable donation that preserved a large tract of the Cuatro Ciénegas, promoting conservation and research efforts for years to come.

About the Award

The recipient of the SFS ESA will be a Society member or non-member who has successfully translated scientific knowledge into the social/public arena through policy or regulatory reform, research that enhances freshwater ecosystem rehabilitation or conservation, or public outreach and science education that strengthens public support for managing freshwater ecosystems.  The nominating letter should clearly and directly link the nominee’s activities to positive policy, conservation, and/or societal outcomes regarding the preservation and wise management of freshwater ecosystems.  Nominations of people from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to increase the diversity of SFS Awardees.  Submit your nominations using the SFS Awards Nomination Portal linked at the top of this page.


  • 2019 | Matt Whiles
  • 2018 | Jeremy Monroe
  • 2017 | David Lenat
  • 2016 | Jim Harrington
  • 2015 | Stephen K. Hamilton
  • 2014 | Michael T. Barbour
  • 2013 | J. Bruce Wallace
  • 2012 | Jerry Jacobi
  • 2011 | Susan P. Davies
  • 2010 | William Hilsenhoff
  • 2009 | Chris O. Yoder
  • 2008 | David Penrose
  • 2007 | Ben Stout
  • 2006 | Bob Hughes
  • 2005 | James R. Karr
  • 2004 | Susan K. Jackson