John Maynard Smith Prize

Every year the European Society for Evolutionary Biology distinguishes an outstanding young evolutionary biologist with the John Maynard Smith Prize.

The prize is named after John Maynard Smith (1920 - 2004), eminent evolutionary biologist, and author of many books on evolution, both for scientists and the general public. He was professor at the University of Sussex, UK, Fellow of the Royal Society, winner of the Darwin Medal, laureate of the Crafoord Prize of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and President of ESEB. See the interview by Robert Wright for an account of his life long fascination with evolution, and here for a biography.


The prize is open to any field of evolutionary biology. The candidates for the 2014 prize must have begun their PhD study after January 1, 2007. Candidates for the prize may be nominated by a colleague or self-nominated. The nominations should be sent as a single PDF file to Ute Friedrich at the ESEB office. The nomination should include a brief justification, the candidate's CV and list of publications (indicating three most significant papers), a short description of future research plans, and a letter from the candidate approving the nomination. A letter of reference from another colleague (or two in case of self-nomination) should be sent directly to Ute Friedrich (

Nominations should arrive no later than January 15, 2014. Please take care to limit the size of attachments (total < 10 MB) in any one email.

The nomination committee, chaired by ESEB Vice President Dieter Ebert, will evaluate the nominations and inform the winner approximately by the end of February 2014.

The prize winner is expected to attend the next ESEB congress in Lausanne, Switzerland (10 - 14 August, 2015), where he or she will deliver the John Maynard Smith Lecture.
The Society will cover registration, accommodation, and travel expenses (economy fare). The JMS Prize comes with a monetary prize of 2500 € and the possibility of a Junior Fellowship of generally 3 months at the Institute of Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, Germany.

Further Junior Fellowships may be awarded to other JMS Prize nominees. For more information on the Wissenschaftskolleg, see Institute of Advanced Study or contact Paul Schmid-Hempel, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Current and previous winners of the JMS Prize are listed below.

Winner 2013

Picture Rich FitzJohnRich FitzJohn is an evolutionary biologist who uses mathematical and computational approaches to explore the distribution of taxonomic and trait diversity. During his doctoral research, Rich explored how species selection (where speciation or extinction rates vary with species' traits) can drive variation in species and trait diversity. He developed several new comparative phylogenetics methods for detecting these trait/diversity associations that have been widely adopted.

Rich recently completed a PhD in evolutionary biology with Prof. Sarah P. Otto at the University of British Columbia, Canada. In 2012 he joined Mark Westoby's lab at Macquarie University, Australia, where he is working on models of species coexistence and competition.

Rich FitzJohn's prize has been celebrated at the XIV ESEB Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, where he gave a plenary lecture on "What drives biological diversification? Detecting the traits under species selection.".(Abstract)

Runner-up 2013 (awarded a junior fellowship)

Picture Line UgelvigLine Ugelvig is a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the IST Austria (Institute of Science and Technology Austria). Her work centres on the ecology and evolution of social insects and their macro and micro parasites. Using a combination of molecular, chemical and behavioural approaches, she studies the collective disease defence of ant societies and aims to understand the basis for defence, namely parasite detection.

Line studied Biology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where she also obtained her PhD with Dr David Nash and Prof. Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma in 2010. While her undergraduate projects addressed how social life facilitates resistance to micro parasites in individual ants, her PhD work focused on rare lycaenid butterflies that parasitize entire ant colonies. Part of her PhD work was carried out in the group of Prof. Naomi Pierce (Harvard University, USA). In 2011, she joined Prof. Sylvia Cremer's lab at the IST Austria to study how the physiological capacity of individual ants influence disease defences at the colony level.

Line has been awarded a Junior Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, Germany.

Previous winners



Last updated October 1, 2013. For suggestions or comments please send an e-mail.