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Honoring Excellence: A Glimpse into the Awards of the International System Dynamics Conference

Honoring Excellence: A Glimpse into the Awards of the International System Dynamics Conference

The International System Dynamics Conference brings together experts, practitioners, and students to exchange ideas, showcase real-world applications, and celebrate outstanding achievements in the field. Every year, the System Dynamics Society recognizes exceptional contributions through a range of awards. In this article, we shed light on the various awards presented during the conference and the brilliant minds that earned these honors in the recent edition.

System Dynamics Applications Award

This award is presented for the best real-world application of System Dynamics. ReThink Health’s System Dynamics model has made notable strides in the health sector, being integrated by over 20 universities and 52 federal agencies. Over 2000 individuals have connected with its network, formulating long-term, equitable recovery plans based on this approach.

Winners: ReThink Health – Bobby Milstein, Jack Homer, Gary Hirsch, Elliott Fisher, Rebecca Niles, Kris Wile, Chris Soderquist, and John Sterman.

Outstanding Service Award 

The Outstanding Service Award recognizes individuals for their exceptional volunteer contributions to the Society over an extended period of time. Rod MacDonald, with his vast 25-year experience in developing simulation models, has been invaluable, especially with his contributions to the Modeling Assistance Workshop and the Short-Term Modeling Assistance program.

Winner: Rod MacDonald (left)

Dana Meadows Award

Named after Dana Meadows, this award celebrates top-tier student work in System Dynamics. Ann Osi and co-author Navid Ghaffarzadegan’s research has clearly demonstrated the excellence the award seeks to honor.

Winner: Ann Osi

Paper: Data-Informed Parameter Estimation in Behavioral Epidemic Models

Abstract: Behavioral epidemic models integrate disease spread and human response. This study found that estimating behavior parameters is less accurate in early pandemic stages. Better estimates come after the pandemic’s first peak and with more behavior data. Traditional SEIR models can be misleading, fitting well initially but erring later on. The research underscores the intricacies of calibrating behavior-disease models.

Early Career Health Paper Award

Aimed at acknowledging extraordinary papers addressing health topics by students or recent graduates. The paper by Samuel Allen, Andrada Tomoaia-Cotisel, Rod MacDonald, and Jason M. Etchegaray was outstanding in this category.

Winners: Samuel Allen and Andrada Tomoaia-Cotisel

Paper: Implementing and Sustaining Healthcare Quality Improvement: A Case Study Examining Feedback Structure and Dynamics

Abstract: Quality improvement (QI) in healthcare goes beyond simple feedback. A case study in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from 2015-2019 developed a unit-based approach (UBA) for front-line QI training, leading to improved quality. Mixed methods simulation modeling documented the feedback and context of this intervention. While a simplified feedback structure can explain many situations, sustaining UBA’s effectiveness demands new management and system design innovations.

Honorable Mentions

The honorable mentions spotlight commendable efforts and innovative approaches that greatly contribute to the field. Their work exemplifies dedication, and innovation, and showcases potential future leaders in the domain.

Zeynep Hasgul and Alireza Akhavan – Dana Meadows Award and Health Award
Health-related Quality of Life of Patients Receiving Immunotherapy: Modeling Analysis (Q-PRIMA Study)

Rachel Thompson – Dana Meadows Award
A qualitative system dynamics model of overdose bystander behavior in the context of Connecticut’s Good Samaritan Laws

Nabeela Mumtaz – Health Award
Estimates of the Reproduction Number for Seasonal Influenza Infectious Disease in the European Region from 2012 to 2016

Zahra Shams Esfandabadi – Dana Meadows Award
The Future of Carsharing Services and its Role in Sustainable Transportation


Barry Richmond Scholarship Award

Established in 2007 by isee systems to honor and continue the legacy of its founder, Barry Richmond. It is presented to a deserving Systems Thinking/System Dynamics practitioner whose work demonstrates a desire to expand the field or to apply it to current social issues.

Winners: Junlai Zhang

Paper: Using System Dynamics modeling to forecast China’s population until 2060 to visualize the aging and shrinking population trends

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Early Career Health Paper Award

The Award

The Early Career Health Paper Award is given to outstanding papers dealing with health-related topics, authored by students or recent (past 5 years) graduates and presented at the conference. If you have multiple papers select the one you wish to submit.


The Prize

The $2500 award will be presented to the recipient (or recipients) during the Annual Health Policy Special Interest Group (HPSIG) Members’ Meeting, which is typically held in-person on the Sunday just preceding the conference. A brief announcement will also be made to all conference attendees at a plenary session.

This award will be given to people at early stages of their careers to encourage them to do further work in health System Dynamics.



This award is funded by generous donations from community members interested in promoting System Dynamics applications to health:

  • Jack Homer
  • Wayne Wakeland
  • David Lounsbury
  • Gary and Linda Hirsch

Email us if you are interested in supporting future awards.

 Ozge Karafil, 2017 winner 

Health Award Committee

David Lounsbury (Health Thread Chair)
Gary Hirsch
Jack Homer
Wayne Wakeland


The Health Policy Special Interest Group (HPSIG) of the System Dynamics Society is pleased to present the Early Career Health Paper Award for work in health System Dynamics, which will be awarded at this summer’s International System Dynamics Conference (ISDC). The award is sponsored by the Early Career Health Paper Award Committee of the HPSIG.

This award will be given to people at early stages of their careers to encourage them to do further work in health system dynamics. In the event the winning paper represents the equal work of more than one applicant, or if there are two winning papers, the cash prize may be subdivided. The work considered for this award must be accepted for presentation at the Conference. Papers are self-nominated, and to be eligible, the author(s) must either be in graduate school or have completed their educational training no more than five years prior to paper submission.

Authors need not be members of the System Dynamics Society and may, in fact, specialize in other methodologies and use them in their submitted papers. But their work must:

  • Focus on dynamic phenomena in health systems and problems,
  • Demonstrate technical quality and clear presentation, and
  • Provide original insights derived from a dynamic analysis.

In addition to presenting at the ISDC, the winner(s) must be willing to participate in the Annual HPSIG Members’ Meeting (typically held in-person during the ISDC), to receive their prize and to discuss their winning work with HPSIG members.

Self-Nominating Procedure

You must nominate yourself via the submissions system. There is no other way to be nominated for the Early Career Health Paper Award.

If your paper is co-authored and one or more of your co-authors does not meet the requirements for this award, then each such co-author must write a statement to the Early Career Health Paper Award Committee indicating that the eligible authors are indeed responsible for the great majority of the background research, modeling, and writing (including revisions) of the paper.

Scroll down to see a sample statement included below for reference.  To be considered for the Award authors should identify themselves as eligible when they submit their papers to the conference and no later than the conference paper submission deadline.

Note that for coauthored papers all eligible authors will share equally in any prize awarded.

Nomination Deadline

No later than the conference submission deadline.

Sample Statement


Attn: Early Career Health Paper Award Committee Members, Health Policy Special Interest Group, System Dynamics Society

Dear Committee Members,

In regards to the paper # titled “” for which I am listed as an author:

I certify that __________ (list all eligible authors) [is/are] responsible for the great majority (at least 85%) of the background research, modeling, and writing (including revisions) of this paper. I further certify that [he/she/they] [is/are] either in graduate school or [has/have] completed [his/her/their] educational training no more than five years prior to paper submission and [is/are] qualified to receive the Early Career Health Paper Award for this work. [His/her/their] dates of graduation are as follows: ________ (list actual or planned date(s) of graduation for each eligible author.)


Early Career Health Paper award winners

Prior to 2023, this was the Lupina Young Researcher Award by the Lupina Foundation

Outstanding Community Service Award

The Award

The System Dynamics Society Outstanding Service Award recognizes individuals that have, on a volunteer basis, made exceptional contributions to the Society over an extended period of time.

The Society has a long and proud tradition of volunteer service and Julie Pugh, who volunteered as the first Executive Director, has inspired this award. Even after establishing a central office with a paid professional staff in 1996, the growth and development of the Society has been heavily dependent on the work of volunteers. To acknowledge this work, emphasize its importance in achieving Society goals, and highlight efforts that can inspire others, this service award was established in 2009.

It is awarded as often as once per year during the annual conference.

The Prize

During the announcement a personalized plaque will be presented with a very brief recitation of achievement. The award will also be announced in a System Dynamics Newsletter after the conference. Award recipients will be listed on the Society website.

Outstanding Community Service Award Committee

Roberta Spencer (Chair)  2020-2024
Robert Eberlein  2021-2025

Birgit Kopainsky 2023-2026 partial term
Rebecca Niles 2023-2027
Jac Vennix 2019-2023 (Sara Metcalf 2024-2028)


The Community Services Award Committee will select individuals who have:

  • Made an unusually outstanding contribution to the Society in a way that benefits the development and advancement of system dynamics.

  • Exhibited the highest standards of service excellence, dedication, and accomplishment over a sustained period of time with:

    • an extended period of service, well beyond the normal term, and

    • a substantial amount of work performed above what would be considered normal for that role.

  • Taken initiative to move the Society forward.

  • Created positive results for Society members and the larger community of people interested in system dynamics.

  • Fostered a culture of service and responsibility and set a standard to inspire others.

In cases where the recipient is not attending the conference the presentation may be deferred to the following conference. In this case two awards may be presented at one conference. If the recipient is not able to attend either conference the award may be announced at one of the conferences and presented privately.

outstanding community service award winners

System Dynamics Lifetime Achievement Award

The Award

The System Dynamics Society occasionally recognizes people for making a significant contribution to a field or a practice over an extended period of time. This is the only award of the Society that is based on a body of work done over lifetime and not on a single article.

This award was formalized in 2012 and had been given very sparingly in the past. It cannot be given out posthumously. No nominations are solicited for the award and the Jay Forrester Award Committee decides on the winner.

The Prize

The award carries a plaque recognizing the achievement of the winner.

System Dynamics Lifetime Achievement Award Committee (aka JWF Committee)

John Sterman 2023-2027
Shayne Gary (Chair in 2024) 2022-2026
Elke Husemann 2022-2026
Khalid Saeed  2021-2025
David Lane  2024-2028

lifetime achievement award winners

System Dynamics Applications Award

The Award

The System Dynamics Applications Award is presented by the Society as often as every year for the best “real world” application of System Dynamics.

The best application is based primarily on demonstrated measurable benefit to an organization through the use of System Dynamics, and secondarily for new ideas that improve the art of applying System Dynamics, or for relating work to existing System Dynamics literature and/or other disciplines. The work must have been conducted within ten years of the submission deadline. 

The Prize

Winners are announced and a certificate is presented at the annual conference of the System Dynamics Society. The winner may also be invited to deliver a talk on the work which may subsequently be published in the System Dynamics Review.


System Dynamics Applications

Award Committee

Bradley Morrison (Chair)  2020-2025
Mark Heffernan  2022-2026
Sharon Els 2023-2027


Criteria for eligible papers for the award include:

  1. Papers must be full-length and written for a System Dynamics user audience, in the English language in the original or after translation;

  2. If previously published, the papers must have been within seven years of the submission deadline;

  3. At least one named author must have been employed at the time of the work by the company or organization whose performance was improved by the System Dynamics modeling effort;

  4. The paper must not have won or been an announced finalist for a previous award from the System Dynamics Society; and

  5. Papers may be self-nominated.

Nominations, papers, and supporting information as well as any questions should be sent to the committee chair.

system dynamics applications award winners

GM Creates the Telematics Industry Using System Dynamics

GM Creates the Telematics Industry Using System Dynamics

System Dynamics was used to fundamentally re-design a business strategy for General Motor’s OnStar service, now value in the billions of dollars. Through investments and policies suggested by modeling work, OnStar became the industry leader in vehicle telematics.

US Communities Take Control of Local Health System

US Communities Take Control of Local Health System

ReThink Health is a powerful System Dynamics simulator that allows community leadership to improve health outcomes, lower costs, increase quality care, and create more resilient communities.

Jay Wright Forrester Award

The Award

The Jay Wright Forrester Award is presented as often as once annually for the best contribution to the field of System Dynamics during the preceding five years.

Papers, articles, books, research or consulting reports, theses or other written material that have been published or are in publishable form in the English language, in the original or after translation, are eligible for consideration.

The Prize

The recipient(s) receive(s) a commemorative plaque and US$5,000. 


This award is funded by the System Dynamics Society. Email us if you are interested in supporting future awards.

Jay Wright Forrester Committee

John Sterman 2023-2027
Shayne Gary (Chair) 2022-2026
Elke Husemann 2022-2026
Khalid Saeed  2021-2025
David Lane  2024-2028


The Society encourages nominations from the broad System Dynamics community. We rely on high-quality, thoughtful nominations, and we urge you to submit a nomination for any work that you deem worthy of consideration. Once received, the Awards Committee reviews the nominations, which may include follow-up with the nominator, and creates a shortlist from which it may select a winner.

Nominations for the Forrester Award may be made by anyone who uses System Dynamics or follows the progress of the field. A nomination must include the following information:

  • The name and contact information for the nominator

  • The name and contact information for the nominee(s)

  • A complete citation of the work nominated

  • A detailed letter supporting the nomination that explains why the nominated work represents the best contribution to the field of System Dynamics during the preceding five years

Submitting an effective nomination requires writing a letter that clearly conveys the importance and significance of the nominated work. Nominations should provide clear details about the motivation for nominating the specific work, and if helpful, cite books, papers, articles, research or consulting reports, theses, and/or other written material that might provide additional support. Prior awards included recipients recognized for papers, books, and software manuals.

  • Papers and articles – Papers published in peer-reviewed journals supported most of the Jay Wright Forrester Awards given to date. Nominators should meaningfully assess the contribution of the chosen paper to System Dynamics, as well as to other fields or to specific policies as appropriate. If the author has written a series of papers on the same topic, then the nominator should select the most deserving paper from the portfolio, describe its individual merits, and provide further context about how the work fits into the portfolio of work and the merits of the portfolio.

  • Books – Books considered for the award should fully explain an important set of ideas or fully communicates a coherent research theme, without the need for nominators to cite a variety of related work by the same or other authors. Nominations should convincingly describe the substantive contributions made by the book to System Dynamics. Examples of books the Society recognized with a Jay Wright Forrester Award include Business Dynamics (2000), the definitive contemporary textbook in the field by John Sterman (winner in 2002) and Group Model Building (1996) by Jac Vennix (winner in 1999).

  • Software – Software per se is not eligible for the Forrester Award, but important software contributions as described in a user’s guide or a book are eligible. For example, Barry Richmond received the 1989 Jay Wright Forrester Award for the Academic User’s Guide to STELLA, which described the highly innovative software and effectively communicated the core concepts of System Dynamics with clarity.

We look forward to receiving your nomination!

jay w forrester award winners