Stearns Graduate Student Prize

ESEB and the Journ­al of Evol­u­tion­ary Bio­logy (JEB) award an annu­al prize for the best gradu­ate paper pub­lished in the journ­al in that cal­en­dar year. The award is named after Steph­en Ste­arns, who played a major role in estab­lish­ing both JEB and ESEB (art­icle).

The Ste­arns Gradu­ate Stu­dent Prize is aimed at recog­nising out­stand­ing gradu­ate (Mas­ters or PhD) research. While pre­vi­ously awar­ded to a single win­ner, from 2022 onwards the JEB edit­or­i­al board selects three joint awardees. This change recog­nises the fact that research excel­lence comes in many facets, ran­ging from the innov­at­ive nature of the ques­tions addressed, over the tech­nic­al chal­lenges in per­form­ing the research to the sci­entif­ic and soci­et­al impact of the results. 

The award includes an invit­a­tion to attend the ESEB Con­gress (travel expenses and regis­tra­tion fee covered), where awardees will present their work in a ded­ic­ated Ste­arns Prize symposium.


The Ste­arns Prize recog­nises the out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion of gradu­ate stu­dents to research pub­lished in JEB. Gradu­ate stu­dents are eli­gible for the prize if they led both the research described in the art­icle and the writ­ing of the manu­script itself (and super­visors will be asked to con­firm this before awards are made). Reflect­ing their role, we would then also usu­ally expect the stu­dent to be the lead (first) author. We expect papers to be sub­mit­ted with­in two years of com­plet­ing the project. 


Dur­ing the pro­cess of sub­mit­ting a manu­script to JEB, the cor­res­pond­ing author will be asked “Was this study led by a gradu­ate stu­dent?”. If the cor­res­pond­ing author answers “Yes” and iden­ti­fies the stu­dent among the authors, the manu­script is auto­mat­ic­ally con­sidered for the Ste­arns Prize in the year of its pub­lic­a­tion. Self-nom­in­a­tion is also encour­aged, where the gradu­ate stu­dent lead­ing the study is also the sub­mit­ting and cor­res­pond­ing author.

Selection criteria

For each cal­en­dar year, all papers pub­lished in JEB that were nom­in­ated at the point of sub­mis­sion as above are auto­mat­ic­ally long­listed for the Ste­arns Prize. Edit­ors will be asked to nom­in­ate papers they handled for short­l­ist­ing based on the fol­low­ing criteria:

  • paper addresses an innov­at­ive research ques­tion or approaches the ques­tion in an innov­at­ive way
  • con­tains tech­nic­ally chal­len­ging work
  • dis­plays a par­tic­u­larly robust approach to answer­ing the research question

Short­l­is­ted papers are then ranked using the same cri­ter­ia as above by a pan­el of edit­or­i­al board mem­bers who did NOT handle the papers, to min­im­ise bias towards a par­tic­u­lar field. The top 3 papers will be awar­ded the Ste­arns Prize for that cal­en­dar year. The full short­l­ist will be made avail­able online for prize year 2022 onwards.