Graduate Student Dissertation Award in Phylogenetic Comparative Plant Biology


The Botanical Society of America seeks applications for the Graduate Student Dissertation Award in Phylogenetic Comparative Plant Biology.

Thanks to an anonymous donor and long-time BSA member, the Society established an endowed fund to support the Ph.D. research of graduate students in the area of comparative plant biology, broadly speaking, from genome to whole organism. Research proposals for the award should have a strong focus on questions that address phylogeny of a group of organisms or trait evolution across one or more clades or biotic relationships between lineages that are phylogenetically patterned. Graduate students in other disciplines whose work may bring novel insights into comparative plant biology are also encouraged to apply.

The award of up to $10,000 may be used to support equipment and supplies, travel for research and to attend meetings, and for summer support. It is anticipated that the award will be made annually.  Applicants and their advisors must be members of the Botanical Society of America and are advised to join the BSA if they are not already members, to facilitate the application process. International students are welcome to apply. Graduate students must have advanced to candidacy or be at a comparable stage in their doctoral program. 

Applications will be evaluated by the Comparative Plant Biology Award Committee. Evaluation criteria include the relevance to advancing research in plant comparative biology, and evidence that the award will allow the graduate student to undertake an independent research project. They also include the motivation for the research, the clarity of the research hypothesis, the explanation of the methods to be used, and the connection between the objectives and design of the research. Awards will be made through institutional offices of sponsored research. Overhead costs are not permitted to be deducted, and applicants or their advisors are responsible for confirming with their institutions that this arrangement is possible before applying. Funds should be spent within two years; any unused funds will revert to the Society at the end of three years. It is expected that some portion of the work will be published as a peer-reviewed paper in American Journal of Botany. As an extra benefit, the journal will cover Open Access publishing costs.


Applications should be written in the form of a proposal that describes the motivation for the research and how the proposed research is related to the student’s overall dissertation project. Proposals should include a cover page with the applicant’s name and abstract (500 words or less). This should be followed by the proposal body, limited to a maximum of 5 single-spaced pages in total (including figures), followed by separate references. The 5 single-spaced page proposal should include: background information, methods (this section limited to 1 page maximum of the total), a broader impacts statement (200 words or less) addressing how the work has the potential to benefit society (examples include improving educational outreach, public engagement, and broadening participation), a budget and timeline. A brief CV is required (limited to two pages).  One letter of reference from the student’s research supervisor is required. Applicants and their advisors must both indicate clearly how the proposed research differs in a substantial manner from the research program of the advisor. The letter of support can be directly uploaded by the student applying or may be emailed by the advisor to

This award is NOT limited to students in the United States.

This award is now open for applications.
Deadline February 1, 2024 (Midnight Pacific Time)

Current BSA members can access the awards portal by clicking here and logging in with your BotanyID/Password. Once signed in, click on the "2024 - Comparative Plant Biology Dissertation Award" link and you should see a blue button that says "+ Create New Nomination" at the bottom if your login was successful.

Please feel free to email with any questions about the award and application process.

David M. Kunkel, Oklahoma State University, For the Proposal: Linking Functional Traits and Niches to Lineage Diversification in Asclepias

2023 Graduate Student Dissertation Award in Phylogenetic Comparative Plant Biology

Zachary Muscavitch, University of Connecticut, For the Proposal: The Evolutionary Dynamics of Fog Lichen Symbionts: Going Global