AMS Annual Best Contributed Paper Award

A certificate and monetary prize ($150) will be awarded for the Best Contributed Paper presented orally by a student and the best contributed poster by a student at the Annual Meeting (held in conjunction with SICB).

Current students or graduates who have received a degree not more than 12 months prior to the meeting are eligible to compete for the awards. The work presented must be original and must be carried out principally by the student presenting the paper. Membership in AMS is not a requirement. A prize can be awarded only once to any student. In the case of a tie, duplicate awards may be presented. Judges, from among the membership of AMS, will be appointed annually by the Chair of the AMS Student Awards Committee (the Committee); at least one judge will attend oral or poster presentation. The submissions of the judges will be collated and final results determined by the Committee or its representatives. If in the opinion of the Committee, none of the papers presented is deserving of an award, the award may not be presented that year. No member who has a student competing for a prize shall be eligible to serve as a judge.

Judges will consider: context, originality and significance of the research; clarity of objectives; efficacy of approach and methods used, including the appropriate use of microscopy and statistical analysis; logic and appropriateness of conclusions drawn from the data; organization of the presentation; quality of visuals presented, including appropriate use of informative graphics and images; and the ability of the presenter to answer questions.

Winners 2018

Best paper:
Allan Carrillo-Baltodano, Biology Department, Clark University
Decoupling brain from nerve cord development in the annelid, Capitella teleta

Link to SICB abstract

Best poster:
Aimee Ellison, California State University, Long Beach
Determining the relationship of protein metabolism and Phenotypic Plasticity in Larvae of the Sand Dollar, Dendraster excentricus

Link to SICB abstract

Winners 2017

Best paper:
Nicole Moss, OIMB, University of Oregon
Regeneration in the pilidium

Link to SICB abstract

Best poster:
Hui Yang, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Getting a new head in life: the non-homology of the rotifer corona and infundibulum

Link to SICB abstract

Winners 2016

Best paper:
Kristen Marie Koenig, University of Texas at Austin;
Making an Eye: Optic Vesicle Morphogenesis in the Cephalopod
Doryteuthis pealeii.
Link to SICB abstract

Best poster:
Stephanie Simmons, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Mesoglea and Muscle in Cubozoan Jellyfish Carybdea marsupialis and Tripedalia cystophora.
Link to SICB abstract

Winners 2015

Amanda Kahn, Sars Centre, , Dept. Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
Demosponges in disguise: Formation of new syncytial tissue in a glass sponge, Aphrocallistes vastus.
Link to SICB abstract

Adonis Rivie, William Paterson University
Plasma treatment accelerates tail regeneration in tadpoles
Xenopus laevis.
Link to SICB abstract

Winner 2014

Bruno Vellutini , Sars Centre, Norway:
Beyond boundaries: expression of “segment polarity” genes during larval lobe development in brachiopods.
Link to SICB abstract

Honorable Mention 2014

Megan Martik, Duke University:
Mechanisms of primordial germ cell migration in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus.
Link to SICB abstract

Winner 2013

Sarah Werning, Berkeley:
Osteohistological differences between marsupials and placental mammals reflect both growth rates and life history strategies.
Below is a photo of bone tissues from the midshaft femur of the Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechninus flavipes), an Australian marsupial.  The image was taken with a Nikon D300 DSLR attached to a Nikon Optiphot-2 POL polarizing light microscope, under elliptically polarized light.  Scale = 250 microns.


Honorable Mentions 2013

Jenna Judge, Berkeley:
A 3D investigation of the morphology of the lepetellid limpets (
Lepetella sierrai): hypotheses on feeding ecology and symbiosis. Below is a 3D model of Lepetella sierrai, a limpet that lives on the empty tubes of benthic polychaetes from the genus Hyalinoecia. This specimen was 1.5 mm in diameter, collected from 100 m depth in the Mediterranean and serially sectioned at 2 microns. Images taken of the sections were used to make a 3D anatomical reconstruction in the software AMIRA.


Erin (Misty) Paig-Tran, University of Washington:
A filtration mechanism for large vertebrate suspension feeders: fluid flow and filter anatomy in the devil rays (mantas and mobulas).
Below is an image from the surface of Mobula thurstoni rakers (the filter structures).  The rakers are completely covered by denticles (tooth-like structures complete with a pulp cavity).  The photo was taken with a tabletop scanning electron microscope (Jeol Neoscope JCM-5000, Tokyo, Japan) under high vacuum at 10kV; 240x magnification.  For scale, width of photo is 489 micrometers.


Winner 2012

Caroline Harper:
How nectar-feeding bats lap: nectar uptake and ingestion in Glossophaga soricina.
HARPER, C.J.*; SWARTZ, S.M.; BRAINERD, E.L.; Brown University, Providence; Brown University, Providence; Brown University, Providence

In nectar-feeding bats, the tongue tip resembles a brush because it is covered with long filamentous papillae. In Glossophaga soricina, these hairlike papillae are organized in discrete rows on the dorsolateral surface of the tongue tip. The goal of this study is to describe how these hairlike papillae are used to collect nectar during feeding. Live G. soricina (n=3) were trained to feed from a small acrylic feeder and their tongues were filmed with monochrome and color high-speed video cameras. The high-speed videos show that these hairlike papillae are dynamic during feeding. During the initial phases of tongue protrusion, the papillae are proximally oriented and lie flat against the tongue. As the tongue tip enters the nectar, the hairlike papillae become engorged with blood and project from the tongue’s surface. In their erect state, the papillae extend perpendicular to the long axis of the tongue and nectar is trapped between the rows of papillae. The hairlike papillae remain in their erect posture throughout tongue retraction and nectar is carried into the mouth for ingestion. These observations provide the first evidence for a hemodynamically-powered specialization of the tongue. Nectarivores have been noted for their specialized feeding adaptations, such as the fluid trap recently described in hummingbirds. The novel fluid capture system in nectar-feeding bats described here, however, is different from that of hummingbirds because the papillae are actively controlled by blood flow and do not rely on passive tongue-fluid interactions.

Honorable Mention 2012

Sarah Werning:
Early evolution of elevated growth and metabolic rates in archosaurs

WERNING, S*; IRMIS, RB; NESBITT, SJ; SMITH, ND; TURNER, AH; PADIAN, K; Univ of California, Berkeley; Univ of Utah; Univ of Washington; The Field Museum; Stony Brook Univ; Univ of California, Berkeley

Birds exhibit much higher growth and metabolic rates compared to other extant reptiles. Bone histology establishes that dinosaurs and pterosaurs also grew at elevated rates, but it remains uncertain when these features evolved, temporally or phylogenetically. We expand the histological database of archosaurs and their ancestors to include early archosauromorphs, pseudosuchians, and dinosauromorphs, tracking changes in growth rate and its underlying metabolism through deep time and in taxa whose character states are not represented among living animals. Our study differs from previous works in its approach, phylogenetic breadth, and level of taxonomic sampling, but also in that we used apomorphy-based identifications for all specimens and sampled at homologous locations from individuals of comparable ontogenetic stage. We mapped characters relevant to growth and metabolism (e.g., osteocyte density, collagen organization, osteonal development, vascularity) on a recent phylogeny of archosauromorph reptiles to assess where particular adaptations of growth dynamics first evolved, focusing on the lineages leading to Archosauria, Crocodylomorpha, Dinosauria, and Theropoda. Many histological features associated with high growth and metabolic rates evolved much earlier than the common ancestor of birds and pterosaurs, and several aspects of the accelerated growth syndrome did not evolve simultaneously. Most of these character changes accumulated in a short segment of the archosauriform tree before the end of the Early Triassic. Many physiological features related to the high growth and metabolic rates of living birds evolved before the most recent common ancestor of crocodiles and dinosaurs.