Alumni Awards

Nearly 4,000 Nelson Institute alumni work in government, business, and nonprofit organizations, applying their knowledge and skills to make the world a better and more sustainable place. Many also volunteer with environmental or humanitarian causes, extending the community-based philosophy that is cultivated within the institute. Each year, the Nelson Institute shines a spotlight on alumni who are making a difference in the world.

2021 Recipients

Vijay Limaye
(PhD Environment and Resources and Epidemiology ’15)

Jessica Price
(PhD Environment and Resources ’16, MS Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development ’10)

Linda Vakunta
(PhD Environment and Resources ’15)

Dan York
(PhD Land Resources ’91, MS Land Resources and Energy Analysis and Policy Certificate ’87)

Watch these videos with the 2021 Alumni Award recipients to learn about their work.

Linda Vakunta

Vijay Limaye and Jessica Price

Dan York

Nomination and Selection Process

The 2021 Alumni Awards nomination process is now closed.

Award winners are selected by members of the Nelson Institute Alumni Awards Committee and approved by the Nelson Institute Senior Leadership Team. Awardees are notified of their selection in early July.

Awards are presented at the Nelson Institute’s annual Rendezvous gathering for alumni and friends.

Award Process

Awards are presented at the Nelson Institute’s annual Rendezvous gathering for alumni and friends. The 2021 Rendezvous Virtual Lunch Event will be held Friday, September 17.

Rising Star Alumni Award

The Nelson Institute Rising Star Alumni Award recognizes initiative as well as accomplishments of alumni who are making a significant difference in the world soon after graduation and who have attained a notable degree of success or impact through their professional accomplishments and/or community service.

  • Nominees must have earned an undergraduate major or certificate or a graduate degree or certificate from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
  • Nominees must be under 35 years of age OR have received their degree/certificate less than 10 years ago.
  • Special consideration will be given to those who have demonstrated significant initiative by starting innovative service or research projects, businesses, or other original enterprises.
  • All candidates will be considered regardless of race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • Nominations may be made by any students, alumni, friends, and current or emeritus faculty or staff of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Self-nominations are accepted, but require a letter of recommendation in addition to the nomination form.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Nelson Institute Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have attained a notable degree of long-term success or impact through their professional accomplishments and/or community service.

  • Nominees must have earned an undergraduate major or certificate or graduate degree or certificate from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Nominees must be over the age of 35 OR have received their degree/certificate more than 10 years ago.
  • Special consideration will be given to those who have demonstrated significant initiative by starting innovative service or research projects, businesses, or other original enterprises.
  • All candidates will be considered regardless of race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • Nominations may be made by any students, alumni, friends, and current or emeritus faculty or staff of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Self-nominations are accepted, but require a letter of recommendation in addition to the nomination form.

Please email Emily Reynolds, assistant director for community engagement and alumni relations, with questions at alumni@nelson.wisc.edu.