Stearns Graduate Student Prize

ESEB & the JEB editorial team award an annual prize for the best paper by a graduate student published in the journal in a calendar year. The prize is named after Stephen Stearns, who did so much to establish both JEB (including serving as first Editor) & ESEB (article).

The Stearns Graduate Student Prize is aimed at recognising outstanding graduate research, so the paper should primarily arise from a significant piece of work which was included in a Masters or PhD thesis. The prize will be conferred at the nearest ESEB Congress and announced in the journal and online.

The award includes an invitation to attend the ESEB Congress (registration fees and travel included), and a cash prize of 250 €. We expect the corresponding or senior (first) author to be the graduate student primarily responsible for the research and paper writing, and the supervisor will be asked to confirm this for shortlisted papers. We expect papers to be submitted at the latest within five years of starting a PhD project. When papers are accepted we will ask if the paper is eligible to be considered for the award, and that all the authors agree to this. The prize will be selected by the Deciding Editors of the journal, and we expect the next award to be for a paper published in 2017.

Winner 2016

The Journal of Evolutionary Biology & the European Society for Evolutionary Biology are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2016 Stearns Prize for a paper published in JEB by a graduate student is Amaranta Fontcuberta, for her paper “Extreme genetic diversity in asexual grass thrips populations” (

Image A. Fontcuberta

Amaranta has studied Biology in Barcelona, Madagascar and Finland. She is currently based in Lausanne, Switzerland where she is pursuing a PhD in Michel Chapuisat’s lab. Her research focuses on ecological and behavioural factors affecting the organisation of ant societies. Besides her PhD, Amaranta is also active in grassroots movements that consider the relationship between environmental issues and social justice.  The paper arose from her Master’s thesis under the supervision of Tanja Schwander at the University of Lausanne.

The standard of papers entered to the competition was very high, and runners up were Matt Wilkins ( and Karl Grieshop ( The competition is named in honour of Stephen Stearns, who did so much to establish both the journal (including serving as first Editor) & ESEB.

I am very grateful to Nathan Bailey & Astrid Groot for helping to assess the entries.

Mike Ritchie, Editor in Chief, JEB

Previous Winners

2015 – James Lichtenstein

Stearns Graduate Student Prize 2015 - James Lichtenstein
“Similar patterns of frequency-dependent selection on animal personalities emerge in three species of social spiders” [DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12651].
James will formally receive the award at the ESEB congress in Groningen in 2017.

2015 – Runners-up were Arthur Porto, Evan Hersh and Damien Farine.


2014 – Ellie Harrison

ellie_harrison“Sex drives intracellular conflict in yeast” (DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12408).
Ellie received the award at the ESEB congress in Lausanne in 2015.

2014 – Runners-up were Kay Lucek and Sean Lee.