ESEB under-represented ECR achievement award

Two annu­al awards of 2,000 € will high­light the achieve­ments of under-rep­res­en­ted early-career research­ers (ECRs) who have faced dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances while con­duct­ing their work. The dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances are primar­ily, but not solely, dis­ab­il­it­ies, single par­ent­ing, and caring respons­ib­il­it­ies that have cre­ated unequal opportunities.

The Gor­don & Betty Moore Found­a­tion is sup­port­ing this initiative.

Call for Applications

Next dead­line: to be announced in autumn 2022


The award is open to PhD stu­dents, postdoc­tor­al sci­ent­ists or non-ten­ure-track research fel­lows who do not hold a per­man­ent aca­dem­ic pos­i­tion and have achieved their research while facing dif­fi­cult circumstances.

  • Applic­a­tions may be sub­mit­ted by the per­son bene­fit­ing from the grant, or by a colleague/supervisor when a let­ter is included from the nom­in­ee approv­ing their nomination.
  • The per­son sub­mit­ting the applic­a­tion must be an ESEB mem­ber (to become a mem­ber of ESEB, please vis­it our mem­ber­ship page first)
  • Applic­ants who have pre­vi­ously received this award are not eligible.
  • The award sti­pend (2000 €) will be spent at the dis­cre­tion of the nom­in­ee. Nom­in­ees will be required to write a short sum­mary of their achieve­ment to be high­lighted on the ESEB Equal Oppor­tun­it­ies web­site and ESEB newsletter.

Application procedure

Applic­a­tions should be sent as a single PDF file to Ute Friedrich at the ESEB office, It should include

  • A cov­er let­ter with the nominee’s name, cur­rent status and insti­tu­tion, PhD start date, dur­a­tion and reas­on for any career breaks, nominee’s or nominator’s ESEB mem­ber­ship num­ber, and a signed state­ment on what the nom­in­ee has achieved and why you con­sidered the nom­in­ee achieved it under dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. The dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances are primar­ily, but not solely, dis­ab­il­it­ies, single par­ent­ing, and caring respons­ib­il­it­ies. The let­ter should not exceed 2 pages.
  • A short CV of the nom­in­ee (1–2 pages)
  • Proof of the nominee’s achieve­ment: this can be for instance a PhD dip­loma, a pub­lic­a­tion, or an out­reach initiative.
  • A let­ter of sup­port from the nominee’s host insti­tu­tion or a colleague.

Applic­a­tions will be eval­u­ated by the Equal Oppor­tun­ity Committee.

Winners in 2022

© K. Leung

Kel­ley Leung, Uni­ver­sity of Gronin­gen, NL – Poly­ploid­iz­a­tion is det­ri­ment­al to the indi­vidu­al because of prob­lems of ster­il­ity, gigant­ism, and gene expres­sion. And yet, poly­ploidy is now recog­nized as a major evol­u­tion­ary driver in the ances­try of most Euk­a­ryota, asso­ci­ated with gene net­work diver­si­fic­a­tion, mass spe­ci­ation, and high­er adapt­ab­il­ity. How ini­tial dis­ad­vant­age and down­stream advant­age are bridged has been dif­fi­cult to study in anim­als because of invi­ab­il­ity. In my PhD with Leo W. Beuk­e­boom of the Uni­ver­sity of Gronin­gen, I exploited mul­tiple path­ways of her­it­able poly­ploid­iz­a­tion in the para­sit­oid wasp Naso­nia vit­ri­pen­nis to devel­op it into an anim­al poly­ploid mod­el. I am honored to now be recog­nized by the ESEB Under-rep­res­en­ted ECR award. I come from Chica­go gang ter­rit­ory and a low-income fam­ily. I went through a divorce halfway through my PhD. In the final stages, I became unex­pec­tedly preg­nant with twins with someone who aban­doned them before they were born. But I was able to pub­lish papers, write suc­cess­ful grants, and defend my PhD through­out. I am now rais­ing my beau­ti­ful chil­dren as a single moth­er and am a postdoc at the Uni­ver­sity of Gronin­gen, con­tinu­ing my work in poly­ploid evol­u­tion as well as bio­lo­gic­al con­trol and host spe­cificity. I thank my child­hood teach­ers, fam­ily and friends, child­care pro­viders, col­leagues, and advisors for help­ing me prove that com­munity is what keeps determ­ined women in the sci­ences. I hope to live up to being a recip­i­ent of this award by increas­ing the vis­ib­il­ity of and cre­at­ing oppor­tun­it­ies for stu­dents and sci­ent­ists from dis­ad­vant­aged backgrounds.

Öncü Maraci
© Ö. Maraci

Öncü Maraci, Uni­ver­sity of Biele­feld, DE – The gastrointest­in­al tracks of the anim­als are home to diverse and dynam­ic micro­bi­al com­munit­ies, col­lect­ively known as gut micro­bi­ota. The dis­cov­er­ies in the last two dec­ades have left no doubt that gut micro­bi­ota has mutu­al con­nec­tions with sev­er­al aspects of host physiology, fun­da­ment­ally alter­ing our under­stand­ing of anim­al bio­logy. Today it is well-estab­lished that micro­bi­al sym­bionts are func­tion­ally involved in count­less pro­cesses and adapt­a­tions of their hosts. Nev­er­the­less, we still lack a prop­er under­stand­ing of the factors shap­ing the gut micro­bi­ota, par­tic­u­larly in birds. I am a postdoc­tor­al research­er in the group of Prof. Bar­bara Caspers at Biele­feld Uni­ver­sity, the Depart­ment of Beha­vi­our­al Eco­logy, which has become a refuge to me since 2016. I received a postdoc­tor­al fel­low­ship from the Phil­ipp Schwartz Ini­ti­at­ive of the Alex­an­der von Hum­boldt Found­a­tion, which enabled me to study fas­cin­at­ing inter­ac­tions between anim­als and their micro­bi­al sym­bionts. In a broad sense, I aim to under­stand the causes and con­sequences of indi­vidu­al-spe­cif­ic micro­bi­o­mes. In par­tic­u­lar, I stud­ied the rel­at­ive impacts of host selec­tion and social trans­mis­sion on gut micro­bi­ota across dif­fer­ent devel­op­ment­al stages in zebra finches. Fur­ther­more, in a col­lab­or­at­ive pro­ject with Marta Szulkin from the  Uni­ver­sity of Warsaw,  I also invest­ig­ated the impact of urb­an­isa­tion on the gut micro­bi­ota of great tits. My research demon­strated that host-spe­cif­ic factors and envir­on­ment­al modi­fic­a­tions col­lect­ively shape anim­al-asso­ci­ated micro­bi­al com­munit­ies lead­ing to tre­mend­ous indi­vidu­al vari­ations. As a next step, I aim to under­stand how indi­vidu­al vari­ation in micro­bi­al com­munit­ies trans­lates into cog­nit­ive and beha­vi­our­al differences.