Astrid Leitner, an assistant professor in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, has been selected to receive one of five Maxwell/Hanrahan Awards in Field Biology for 2023.

The awards, sponsored by the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation, are designed to recognize and encourage under-appreciated, early or critical career stage talent and curiosity in field-based research.

Each recipient receives $100,000 in unrestricted funds to support their individual work, elevate their diverse perspectives and enable them to commit time to observation and experimentation that contributes to a better understanding of the world. The awards were launched in 2020 and this is the fourth cohort of winners.

“I am thrilled to be recognized by the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation for this honor,” Leitner said. “The funds that accompany this award will provide momentum to help me establish my lab and get set up for success in Corvallis as a new assistant professor, including hiring students to conduct research in my lab.”

Leitner, an oceanographer, joined the Oregon State faculty in August. Her research interests include deep ocean conservation, boundary zone communities and the ecology and behavior of marine animals around complex and steep underwater topography, such as seamounts, submarine canyons, banks and pinnacles that support very rich ecosystems. These areas also tend to be hotspots of human activity in the ocean, such as fishing, tourism, mineral extraction/mining and marine conservation.

As part of her research, Leitner discovered the largest aggregation of fish ever documented at depths of 10,000 to 20,000 feet. She also recently discovered a distinct midwater boundary community along the wall of the Monterey Canyon.

The mission of the San Francisco-based Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation is to support innovative people working in field-based science, art and craft, teaching and protection of the natural world. For more information on the awards, visit

~ Michelle Klampe