Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award

Advancing Diversity in Dendrochronology through the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award


Title: Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award

Award: Funds to assist an early career scientist to attend and give a named lecture at WorldDendro 2018 in Bhutan

Organization: Tree-Ring Society

Developers of the Award: Dr. Neil Pederson, Senior Ecologist; Dr. Valerie Trouet, Associate Professor of Dendrochronology; Dr. Patrick Baker, Associate Professor of Ecosystem Science; and Dr. Amy Hessl, Professor of Geography; Dr. Elaine Kennedy Sutherland, President of the Tree-Ring Society.

Enhancing Diversity

Over the past century dendrochronology has adapted to the challenges of understanding past environments, climate change, and environmental degradation. It evolved such that it informed the fields of ecology, geochemistry, human health, social sciences, etc. In this context, there is a need to recognize promising scientists who will continue the evolution of dendrochronology.

A review of the most recent membership list for the Tree-Ring Society indicates that only 29% of members identify as female. Further, when breaking the membership down by nation status, only 5% of Tree-Ring Society members are based in Tier II countries. Membership from Tier II countries, however, does not reflect the global enthusiasm for dendrochronology: 30% of the attendees of Melbourne WorldDendro in 2014 were from Tier II countries. Continued expansion of our science requires a broader representation of the collective brainpower of humanity.

The early career stage of academia appears to be the critical period in retaining underrepresented researchers. For the continued growth of dendrochronology, it is imperative that we show substantial support for bright, young people in our field.

For these reasons, the Tree-Ring Society has developed the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award to promote the future of dendrochronology.

Goals of the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award

We honor Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis, the first female tree-ring scientist, through the creation of this award. Dr. Ellis pioneered multiple disciplines and, most importantly, fought for equality in academia throughout her career. The Ellis Award will:

  • Be given at each WorldDendro Conference, a conference held every four years;
  • Awardee will deliver the “Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis Lecture” at the WorldDendro Conference
  • Come with financial assistance to travel to future WorldDendro conferences.


The Florence Hawley Ellis Award targets women, minorities, and others who identify as underrepresented in the field of dendrochronology. One award will be given out to an early-career scientist (~10 years or less post Ph.D.) prior to each WorldDendro meeting. The award is not intended for students, only early-career scientists.

Mechanisms of the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award

Cultural definitions of underrepresentation evolve. For those not in an underrepresented group, it might be difficult to define underrepresented groups (for a greater discussion on this, see: “The long tail of under-representation”.

To ensure that the awardee can attend WorldDendro, nominations will be open for 2-3 months more than a year in advance of each conference.

A committee of five will determine the awardees within two months after the closing date for nominations. For the first Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award, the committee will be composed of two members from the developers of this award, the Vice-President of the Tree-Ring Society, and two at-large members as determined by the proposers of this award. One of the two at-large committee members will include either one Ph.D. student or post-doc. We will elect both at-large members from a Tier II nation. Future Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Awardees will replace the initial committee members save the Vice-President of the Tree-Ring Society. The VP will have permanent representation on this committee.

We expect to award up to $2000 USD to the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award recipient to ensure their participation in WorldDendro. The past three WorldDendro conferences were in Australia, Finland, and China. WorldDendro 2018 will be held in Bhutan. This travel incurs steep costs on young scientists. The Tree-Ring Society will offset registration fees for each WorldDendro. Total funding will depend on fundraising and donations made to the Tree-Ring Society that are directed to support the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award [in the comment section, please state that you want your donation to support this award].


We believe that the Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award will create diversity within our discipline and across science.  The award will enhance retention of underrepresented people in science in at least three ways. First, by providing funds to attend a world conference, the awardee will have the chance to meet and potentially collaborate with scientists from a broad range of academia. Second, being able to give a named lecture at an international conference will enhance the visibility of the awardee’s work.

We believe that an investment into a broader representation of our community will aid in the future evolution of dendrochronology, all of its associated disciplines, and science in general by giving opportunities for international recognition to young scientists with diverse histories.

Apply or Nominate a person for the WorldDendro 2018 Florence Hawley Ellis Diversity Award

Behind the Naming of the Diversity Award After Dr. Florence Hawley

Like many early tree-ring scientists, Dr. Hawley Ellis broke new ground over a range of disciplines. After taking A.E. Douglass’ first class on dendrochronology, she was a pioneer of dendroarcheology in Chaco Canyon and the southeastern US, tree rings and climate in the Midwest and southeastern US, chemical analysis of pottery, and the first use of statistical analyses in archeology. A producer of roughly 300 academic works, Dr. Hawley Ellis embodied the workhorse she described in a note to former mentee:

The producers are the work-horses, not the flash-in-the-pan types. “By their works ye shall know them.” And thus the best that is in us is sweated out onto paper and lives beyond our lifetime.” F.H.E.

– Frisbie (1991)

Although the Bibliography of Dendrochronology lists only eight publications, Dr. Hawley Ellis’ continual effort is revealed in a legacy to the tree-ring world: her extensive collection of archeological material and tree samples that is now preserved in the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research’s archive (Creasman, 2011).

In addition to being a pioneering scientist, Dr. Hawley Ellis was known as a talented mentor with a progressive and brilliant mind:

We could probably only sense it at the time, but when she walked into our classroom, sat herself down on the top of her desk, crossed her legs and began lecturing without notes exactly where she left off in the last class, we were learning from one of New Mexico’s greatest scholars, teachers, and social scientists.”


More broadly, Dr. Hawley Ellis was a champion of equality in terms of economic and professional recognition. Her eminence in scholarship and sustained pursuit for equality earned her recognition as a leader in archeology. A museum of anthropology in Abiquiu, New Mexico was named in her honor.

Description of The Tree-Ring Society

The Tree-Ring Society is an international scientific association dedicated to tree-ring research and education. Specifically, the Society promotes tree-ring research to the global scientific community by supporting symposia, conferences, workshops, and through the communication of tree-ring studies to scientific and public audiences. Through these activities, the Tree-Ring Society provides communication and training for scientists around the world.  Because tree rings can be used across many disciplines —climate change, archeology, human history, forest ecology, animal ecology, and geology to give a few samples—the outreach and activities of the Tree-Ring Society goes far beyond our discipline.

The Tree-Ring Society has held regional and global meetings in places such as China, Mexico, Nepal, Argentina, Iran, Finland, Thailand, and Mongolia. WorldDendro 2018 will be held in Bhutan. Workshops are held with these meetings and are open to students, professionals, and scientists at all levels of experience. These knowledge and scientific exchanges promote the development of new scientists, laboratories, and international research.


Creasman PP (2011) Basic Principles and Methods of Dendrochronological Specimen Curation. Tree-Ring Research, 67, 103-115.

Frisbie TR (1991) Florence Hawley Ellis 1906-1991. Kiva, 57, 93-97.

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