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Pilot Research Grants in Evolutionary Studies


Members and trainees of the Evolutionary Studies Initiative (ESI) are encouraged to apply for Pilot Research Grant Funding. Each award will be up to $5,000. Funds should be used for projects with an evolutionary theme. Proposals that include cross-lab and cross-department collaborations are encouraged but not required. Trainee-led applications are encouraged.


Fund Availability

$30,000 total for 5-6 grants.


A strong proposal will promote new evolutionary scholarship for applicants, develop team collaborations at various career stages across disciplines, and seed larger projects. Funds must be used by June 5th, 2025. The criteria for evaluation and reporting responsibilities are below.


How to apply for the Evolutionary Studies Initiative Pilot Research Grant:

Applications are due May 17th, 2024, send a single PDF including a short proposal limited to one page along with relevant CVs to the scientific coordinator, Dr. Andy Flick ( that includes:

  1. specific goals and hypotheses (included in 1 page proposal)
  2. team membership across schools or departments and career levels (included in 1 page proposal)
  3. project plan (included in 1 page proposal)
  4. a brief budget (may be on separate page)
  5. brief CVs of key personnel (should be separate pages)

All proposals will be evaluated by a committee of evolutionary studies members and staff based on the criteria described below. Informal inquiries are welcome.

Criteria for evaluation

  • What is the goal or hypothesis? Is it a new or existing area of scholarship for the applicants? How does it relate to evolutionary studies?
  • Does the team connect different career stages (e.g., undergraduates and faculty) and/or groups (e.g., life sciences, anthropology, philosophy, law, art, education, etc.)?
  • Have funding agencies been identified that will subsequently lead to a larger project?
  • Are undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral trainees involved?
  • Applicants should note inclusivity and diversity, inviting participation from underrepresented groups.


Awardees are expected to regularly attend ESI seminars and journal club meetings and commit to presenting once at the ESI Seminar Series within the next year or two; submit a one-page final report by July 30th, 2025, noting project outcomes; and acknowledge Vanderbilt Evolutionary Studies in presentations and publications from funded activities. The funds provided by these awards must be spent within the fiscal year in which they are awarded.

2023-2024 Award Winners

Neil Kelley, Brandt Eichman, Gianni Castiglione, Lantana Grub (Patel Lab), Hao Yin (Meng Lab), Jamisha Francis (Hadjifrangiskou Lab), Jay Pardo (DeSantis Lab), Kate Snyder (Creanza Lab), Alejandro Prieto (Darroch / Jorge Lab) Owen Hale (Behringer Lab), Marina Watowich (Lea Lab)

2022-2023 Award Winners

Katie McCormack (Benn Torres Lab), Lin Meng, Sam Schaffner (Patel Lab), Taiye Winful (Benn Torres Lab)

Press Release

2021-2022 Award Winners

Audrey Arner (Lea Lab), Megan Behringer & Ben Bratton, Nicole Creanza & Jada Benn Torres, Larisa DeSantis, Maulik Patel, Rachel Racicot, Ann Tate

Press Release