2022 Award Recipient

Professor Leslie Aiello

Professor Leslie Aiello has been selected to receive the 2022 Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology. This honor is given to “members whose careers demonstrate extraordinary achievements that have well served the anthropological profession.”

Prof. Aiello forged innovative pathways for the discipline of anthropology to increase the dissemination of humanistic and scientific knowledge. She is a biological anthropologist who has worked tirelessly to promote all four fields of anthropology. Her crowning achievement of service to the discipline was her tenure as the fifth president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation from 2005 to 2017 where she oversaw the disbursement of close to $35 million in research grants, and nearly that sum in additional grants and fellowships. She advanced the decolonization of anthropology through grants targeting countries where anthropology is under-represented, which funded institutional development, training for students and scholars, and collaborative projects involving the Global South. She also worked with the AAA to revitalize the (re-named) World Anthropological Union. She strengthened the public presence of anthropology through Engaged Anthropology grants, financial support for the launch of Anthropology Now, and the creation of the digital magazine SAPIENS (which reached over 20 million page views by 2022). Until recently, she has been President of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists and currently represents Anthropology on the Board of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Prof. Aiello believed in the importance of raising awareness of the significance of anthropology for the world today, and she succeeded in implementing this vision.