Stearns Graduate Student Prize

ESEB & the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (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 2018.

Winner 2017

JEB & ESEB are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2017 Stearns Prize for a paper published in JEB by a graduate student is Jack Colicchio, for his paper “Transgenerational Effects Alter Plant Defense and Resistance in Nature” (

Picture of Jack Colicchio

Jack recently completed his doctoral studies at the University of Kansas under the mentorship of Lena Hileman and John Kelly. While the bulk of his dissertation was focused on transcriptomic and epigenomic responses to wounding in isogenic lab lines of Mimulus guttatus, this paper arose as an independent project exploring variability for this response across natural populations. Jack is currently working with Dr. Benjamin Blackman at the University of California Berkeley where he is continuing to pursue his research on interactions between the genome, epigenome, and environment. With a new focus on plant responses to abiotic variables he hopes to shed light onto the potential implications of transgenerational inheritance on plant acclimation in the face of climate change. Besides his post-doctoral research, Jack is active in developing citizen science resources to monitor the phenologies of ecologically important plant species across the Western US ( and enjoys rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits.

The standard of papers entered to the competition was very high, and runners-up were

Keely Brown (,
Zacharia Grochau-Wright (,
Ryosuke Iritani (,
Kim Kirchhoff (, and
Erin Morrison (

Wolf Blanckenhorn, Editor-in-Chief, JEB

Previous Winners

2016 – Amaranta Fontcuberta

“Extreme genetic diversity in asexual grass thrips populations” (

2016 – Runners-up were Matt Wilkins and Karl Grieshop.

2015 – James Lichtenstein

“Similar patterns of frequency-dependent selection on animal personalities emerge in three species of social spiders” [DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12651].

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

2014 – Ellie Harrison

“Sex drives intracellular conflict in yeast” (DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12408).

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