Call for Applications for Special Topic Networks

Next deadline: to be announced in autumn 2022.

Applicants should provide a proposal with the following components:

1) a description of the research area to be targeted, showing why it is timely to address it in this way and outlining the expected benefits to the field from the STN (max. 1000 words),
2) a plan for the first two years of operation of the STN and an outline of activities over the remaining years (max. 500 words),
3) the names and affiliations of the proposed organisers, with brief (max. one page) CVs, and
4) a budget, with brief justification, for the STN activities proposed for the first two years.

Applicants should also identify an institution that is prepared to open an account in which the funds can be deposited and managed by the applicants. ‘Overheads’ will not be paid to this institution but reasonable direct administrative costs will be eligible. Funding for each 2-year block will be subject to approval by the STN Committee, established by Council, following receipt of a report of activities in the preceding 2 years. The institution managing funds will be asked to provide a certified statement of expenditure to accompany the report. The principal criterion for renewal will be evidence that the funding provided had been used to further interaction in the topic area.

Applications should be sent to the ESEB office email ( as PDF files by tba. Updated versions of previously-submitted proposals are welcome. Proposals will be assessed by an independent STN Review Panel, appointed by the STN Committee following the closing date and ensuring no conflict of interest by panel members. The STN Review Panel will make funding recommendations to Council. The result will be announced after the next Council meeting, at latest on 31 August 2023.

The principal criterion for selection of an STN will be its focus on an active area of research within the scope of evolutionary biology. Preference might be given to STNs that propose new connections between sub-disciplines or that focus on the resolution of current controversies. New STNs will address topics distinct from those covered by currently-funded STNs. A score for this criterion based on part (1) of the application will account for 50% of the overall panel score. It is primarily for the proposers to demonstrate the need for an STN, the potential for it to stimulate progress and the activities that will enable the network to be effective. A typical STN might organise one small discussion meeting per year but it might also organise training events and its members might work together to generate resources or publications. Interaction among members might be fostered, between meetings, using social media, online discussion forums or similar. A score for the effective and innovative nature of the plans laid out in part (2) of the proposal will account for 25% of the overall panel score. The final 25% of the score will be based on the budget and adherence to the following guidelines:

1. A proposal should be supported by at least three ESEB members (membership in date on the closing date for applications), from at least two and typically three countries and taking gender issues into account, who commit to organising the STN for its duration (or to finding appropriate replacements if forced to step down). A member should support no more than one proposal in a given application round and organisers of current STNs should not be proposers of new STNs.
2. STNs should organise at least one meeting in the non-Congress year following its inception and one in its final non-Congress year. Complementing these meetings with an innovative range of other activities is strongly encouraged.
3. Each STN will be expected to make at least one contribution to one of the ESEB journals (Journal of Evolutionary Biology or Evolution Letters) during its period of operation. This might be an Invited Review or Special Issue, for example.
4. STNs should consider offering a contribution to the ESEB Congress in their final year of operation.
5. Each STN should maintain an active presence on the web, with access possible from the ESEB website at least to ‘public’ areas. We appreciate that STNs may wish to maintain some private working space, for example for the preparation of publications.
6. STNs may have a core membership and restrict some activities to this core group but generally their activities should be as open as possible to all interested participants.
7. STNs may wish to seek additional funds from other agencies, or from participants. If this is considered essential for the planned activities, then a strategy should be outlined in the proposal.
8. ESEB members should be given priority and, where appropriate, given subsidised access to STN activities where numbers are limited or where there is a cost to participation.
9. STNs should strive to involve the widest possible range of participants in terms of career stage, gender and nationality.
10. ESEB support should be recognised in all promotion of STN activities and in any publications or other output arising from STN activities.

For any further information or enquiries, please contact the chair of the STN committee, Ellen Decaestecker (

The STN Committee,
Ellen Decaestecker (chair), Troy Day, Simone Immler, and Yannis Michalakis