I no longer sit on the ASN Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Awards committee, but I still encourage you to apply. Each year four awards go to outstanding young researchers doing integrative research in all areas of ecology, evolution, genetics, and behavior. The awards commemorate Jasper Loftus-Hills, an exceptionally promising young Australian biologist who was killed during fieldwork three years after finishing his PhD.
See here for details and application instructions. You don’t have to be an ASN member to apply.
The awardees each get $500, and a $700 travel allowance ($1200 in the case of intercontinental travel) to present their work in a dedicated symposium at the annual joint meeting of ASN with the SSE (next year it’s in Providence in June). Awardees also get free registration for the meeting.
New this year is an automatic eligibility extension for primary caregivers for newborn or newly adopted children: eligibility can be extended by 1 year for each child born or adopted during the eligibility period if the applicant has been the primary care giver. Other forms of exceptional caregiving responsibility (e.g., partner, spouse, aged parent, etc.) or extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
I think it’s fantastic that the ASN honors not just one but four outstanding young researchers every year. Here are some words of encouragement and advice for prospective applicants, from my perspective as a past YIA committee member*:
- Don’t worry about whether you have “enough” publications, or a “high enough” h-index, or whatever. Every application receives full, holistic consideration from every committee member. Applications aren’t evaluated based on crude quantitative criteria like the number of papers you’ve published or your h-index or whatever. And every year the applicant pool varies widely on many dimensions.
- You don’t have to wait until your final year of eligibility to apply. Not every awardee is in their final year of eligibility.
- If you’ve applied in the past and haven’t received an award, please do apply again. The committee does not consider whether or not you’ve applied before, and some past awardees applied more than once.
- No, your application will not be a burden to your letter writers, or to the YIA committee. It’s no big deal for your mentors to write you as many reference letters as you want. And the YIA committee is happy to evaluate every application. The YIA committee members volunteered for this gig because they like getting to know some of the many outstanding young researchers in the fields covered by the award, and learning about the terrific science those young researchers are doing. I spent three years on the YIA committee, and I enjoyed reading every single application we got. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was work I was very happy to do.
- It’s not “really” an evolution award; ecologists should apply! I can see why some people might have the mistaken impression that the YIA is “really” an evolution award. For instance, the awardees speak at an evolution conference. But don’t let that discourage you from applying if you’re an ecologist! The YIA committee always includes at least one ecologist. The committee likes to have a large and diverse applicant pool so that the awardees can collectively reflect the diversity of the ASN membership in terms of research topics. And I know from speaking to past ecological awardees that their talks have been well-received at the evolution conference.
- The YIA committee takes diversity and equity seriously. Over the past few years, the YIA has gone to a roughly balanced mix of women and men, reflecting the strength and gender diversity of the applicant pool.
*Obviously I can’t speak for current committee members, but I doubt they would disagree with anything I said.