As of 2009, up to three IPPA Prizes are awarded. Two prizes are awarded to senior scientists (over the age of 40) biennially by the International Photoacoustic and Photothermal Association (IPPA), a non-profit association incorporated in North America and another prize to a junior scientist (under the age of 40). One of the senior prizes is from an endowment in memory of James Smith (see "Endowments"). It is designated the James Smith IPPA Prize. The junior prize is awarded if one or more outstanding candidate has been nominated and approved by the Selection Committee at any given two-year period leading to an upcoming ICPPP.
The IPPA Prize is aimed at recognizing and honoring scientists or engineers who have made significant contributions to the field of Photoacoustic and Photothermal Science and Technology.
The prizes are awarded for single outstanding contributions or sustained contributions made over a number of years. In the case of young researchers, the prize will be awarded for exceptional promise for future leadership in the field, based on their early contributions. The prize is given irrespective of the country, race, or sex of the candidate.