bright fish swimming among coral reefs in water

Biosemiotics Achievement Award

The Biosemiotics Achievement Award was established in 2014 to recognize novel and important contributions to the field.

The statutes governing the award can be found here.


The winner of the Biosemiotics Achievement Award for 2020 is:

Filip Jaroš and Matěj Pudil for their article “Cognitive systems of human and non-human animals: At the crossroads of phenomenology, ethology and biosemiotics

The article aims to provide a general framework for assessing and categorizing the cognitive systems of human and non-human animals. Our approach stems from biosemiotic, ethological, and phenomenological investigations into the relations of organisms to one another and to their environment. Building on the analyses of Merleau-Ponty and Portmann, organismal bodies and surfaces are distinguished as the base for sign production and interpretation. Following the concept of modelling systems by Sebeok, we develop a concentric model of human and non-human animal cognition that posits three intertwined spheres: corporeity, social communication, and culture. The model explicitly works with the pluralistic perspective that views the communication and cognition of humans as distinct, but not superior to those of non-human animals. Our position is substantiated by two case studies: the first one focuses on the acquisition and spread of nut-cracking technique among the chimpanzees in the Täi forest, the second one on the communication and cognition of deafblind persons. From an epistemological perspective, our paper is a contribution to contemporary attempts to link biosemiotics and ethology with phenomenological concepts of agency, living bodies, and lifeworld.

Previous years

2019 Yogi Hale Hendlin, “I Am a Fake Loop: the Effects of Advertising-Based Artificial Selection.”

2018 Mirko Cerrone, “Umwelt and Ape Language Experiments: on the Role of Iconicity in the Human-Ape Pidgin Language.”

2017 Timothy C. Mullet, Almo Farina, Stuart H. Gage, “The Acoustic Habitat Hypothesis: An Ecoacoustics Perspective on Species Habitat Selection.”

2016 Sergio L. Rodríguez Gómez, “Recurrences and Agential Meaning Making: Laying a Path in Walking.”

2015 Lynn Chiu and Scott F. Gilbert, “The Birth of the Holobiont: Multi-species Birthing Through Mutual Scaffolding and Niche Construction.”