Skip to main content

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 9th, 2024. The criteria for evaluation and reporting responsibilities are below.


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

Applications are due May 31st, 2023, send a single PDF including relevant CVs and a short proposal limited to one page to the scientific coordinator, Dr. Andy Flick ( that includes:

  1. specific goals and hypotheses
  2. team membership across schools or departments and career levels
  3. project plan
  4. a brief budget
  5. brief CVs of key personnel

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, 2024, 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.

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