The W. D. Hamilton Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Presentation is given to a current or recent graduate student who presents an outstanding talk based on their graduate work at the annual meeting. Finalists present their papers during a day-long symposium of Hamilton Award candidate talks. Continue reading to hear from six of the 2018 finalists about their experiences at the II Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier, France.
“Presenting my PhD work at the 2018 Hamilton Award Symposium was certainly one of the most frightening and yet rewarding experiences I have ever had! As an earlier career scientist, I find few experiences to be as exciting as the opportunity to meet and interact with others that share my curiosity and enthusiasm. Evolution 2018 was definitely the place for that! I have learned an immense amount from this experience, and the support I received from the SSE travel award was a huge help in making this happen. I hope many other students can benefit from it as well!” - Debora Goedert
“Last year, I got to present my work on the genetics of phenotypic plasticity in butterfly wing color in the Hamilton Award Symposium at the Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier, France. Presenting my work to such a large audience and in such a large room was an amazing experience, and I’m very grateful to SSE for giving me the opportunity to do so. Since it was a joint meeting, I got to meet scientists from all over the world. It was incredibly stimulating to hear about so many different research topics, all on evolutionary biology. I also received a ton of feedback on my own work, which was really useful. I left Montpellier invigorated and inspired, and I’m very excited to attend again this year in Providence!” - Karin van der Burg (pictured left)
"Being part of the Hamilton Award was a true honor, and presenting my research on the evolutionary biology of pythons to such a big and broad audience an experience of a lifetime. Thanks to this, I got to meet some of my research heroes that approached me after the talk and have kept in contact with. I am extremely grateful of the opportunity!" - Damien Esquerre
"I was honored to be selected as a finalist in the 2018 Hamilton Award symposium and was therefore awarded the travel grant to Evolution conference and Hamilton award symposium. It was a great feeling to be recognized for research and all the effort I put into my work as a PhD student. The actual symposium was held in the big opera hall in beautiful Montpellier and it was a great experience for me to present my work in front of such a well-connected and high-ranking crowd of researchers coming from different fields within Evolution. The experience presenting on the big stage and in front of such a crowd boosted my confidence level and helped me share my research with many other scientists within the same field and get much feedback. Moreover, attending the conference opened up many doors for me to future collaborations, which I am very grateful for.” - Ghazal Alavioon (pictured right)
"It was a great honor to get to present my work as part of the Hamilton Award Symposium. One of the my favorite parts of science is communicating the results and ideas that have been brewing for years with the people best able to evaluate them. It was especially gratifying to do so on an opera stage in front of a large audience - something I doubt I'll get the chance to do again any time soon! The Hamilton Award led to many productive conversations and suggestions from scientists over the days following my talk, some of which have sprouted productive lines of inquiry. I would like to thank SSE for providing such a fantastic opportunity to PhD students and early post-docs. These talks are generally one of my favorite sessions to attend at [Evolution], and to be part of them was extremely gratifying." - Andrius Jonas Dagilis
“The Evolution 2018 meeting in Montpellier, was probably one of the largest gatherings of evolutionary biologists ever. I was thus very fortunate that it coincided with the latter stages of my PhD, at a point in which I could have the opportunity to present it to my colleagues – I'm currently working on the evolutionary genetics of reptile coloration, specifically trying to understand how specific genes regulate the expression of bright colors in lizards from an evolutionary and functional perspective. Having the chance to showcase my work to a large audience was already an end goal in itself for the symposium, so the highlight of my experience was the following congress days, during which I had a good number of people coming to me showing interest in my work and even opening up some opportunities to collaborate. Since PhD students in my country have very limited funding opportunities for attending meetings, I count myself my fortunate to have had the chance to receive funding from the SSE to attend this congress and showcase my work at the Hamilton Award Symposium.” - Pedro Andrade (pictured below)