Synthesis Prize

2024 Call for Applications
AJB Synthesis papers and the AJB Synthesis Prize

The American Journal of Botany welcomes applications for our AJB Synthesis papers and the AJB Synthesis Prize to showcase early-career scientists.

The AJB Synthesis section features invited contributions by early-career scientists that concisely summarize and synthesize a focal research area or question. These articles summarize recent research and provide new insights that advance the field. Contributions focus on newly emerging areas or provide new perspectives on established areas. Authors are encouraged to express a personal perspective, while maintaining a balanced view of the field. Syntheses should be single authored, no longer than 3,000 words, written so that they are accessible to the broad readership of the journal, and have informative and creative visuals. All Synthesis papers accepted for publication and published in fall 2024 through spring 2025 will be considered for the AJB Synthesis Prize.

Guidelines for AJB Synthesis Applicants:

  • Applicants must be within six years of completing their PhD. Career breaks related to the pandemic or parental/dependent care are not included in the six-year time frame, but applicants should explain delays in the cover letter.
  • The application should include: (1) a CV; (2) a one-page cover letter describing the applicant’s research interests, presenting a brief case for how they are equipped to write a synthesis on their topic, and explaining why their Synthesis topic is appropriate for AJB; (3) an abstract of 250-300 words; and (4) the name of a referee who could write a letter of support.
  • Submit all materials as a single PDF to Amy McPherson at
  • Applications are due 16 February 2024.

Invitation for AJB Synthesis Authors:

  • The selection committee will evaluate applications and choose 10-15 for letters of reference.
  • The committee will then invite 3-6 applicants to write Synthesis papers to be submitted within six months.
  • All submissions will be handled by AJB Associate Editors and go through peer review for publication.

Consideration for the AJB Synthesis Prize:

All Synthesis papers that are accepted for publication will be evaluated by a panel of judges, separate from the Synthesis Committee, and one paper will be selected for the AJB Synthesis prize. The author whose paper is selected will be awarded a $2,000 cash prize and a one-year membership to the Botanical Society of America.

The Botanical Society of America and the American Journal of Botany are committed to inclusive science that reflects disciplinary, human, and geographic diversity. Submissions are welcomed from applicants of all ethnicities, races, colors, religions, sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities, socioeconomic status, national origins, disabilities, ages, or other individual status.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact

Members of the AJB Synthesis Committee: Sean Graham (Chair), Pamela Diggle, Lúcia Lohmann, Carol Goodwillie, and Amy McPherson

Winners of this award:

2024 - Dr. Meghan Blumstein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for her article "The drivers of intraspecific trait variation and their implications for future plant productivity and survival” (American Journal of Botany 111(4): e16312).

Dr. Meghan Blumstein

2023Dr. Liming Cai, University of Texas at Austin, for her article "Rethinking convergence in plant parasitism through the lens of molecular and population genetic processes,” 2023, AJB vol. 110: e16174.

Dr. Liming Cai

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Liming Cai, of the University of Texas at Austin, is the winner of the first AJB Synthesis Prize for her article "Rethinking convergence in plant parasitism through the lens of molecular and population genetic processes,” 2023, vol. 110: e16174.

Dr. Cai is currently a Stengl-Wyer Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin focusing on the evolutionary genomics and physiology of parasitic plants. She received her doctoral degree in evolutionary plant biology at Harvard University, and her bachelor’s degree, with Honors, in Life Sciences from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. Her research combines natural history and cutting-edge molecular methods to gain a mechanistic understanding of how plants live and evolve. She is exploring how plant parasitism impacts the integrity of mitochondrial function and mito-nuclear interaction using genome sequencing, respiratory physiology, and herbarium-based approaches. Dr. Cai is a member of the BSA’s Early Career Advisory Board and has served on the Reviewing Editor Board for Applications in Plant Sciences. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals and received much recognition and many awards for her scholarship.

Dr. Cai was one of six early-career scientists whose Synthesis papers were published in AJB. Congratulations to all the authors! See all of the Synthesis papers: