The Contest: It is a common metaphor in science that modern discoveries are made possible by standing on the shoulders of giants—the great scientists of the past whose discoveries serve as the foundation for modern research. Some of these scientists, such as Charles Darwin, receive the credit that they deserve for their contributions to our understanding of the world. But there are hundreds of others whose work is also deserving of recognition, yet who never quite receive their due in this respect. Your task is to create a tribute to someone whose work is relevant to evolution, and who you feel is deserving of more recognition for it. The tribute can also be to more than one person if the people are best remembered for work that they did together, such as James Watson and Francis Crick, who together discovered the structure of DNA.
The tribute can be either visual or in writing—you’re welcome to be creative with the form it takes. In addition to an entire folder of tributes to Charles Darwin, our group already contains a few good examples of tributes to other scientists:
This tribute to Alfred Russell Wallace by ArtemisiaSynchroma
This tribute to Carl Sagan by SamSaxton
This tribute to John Ostrom by Agahnim (me)
The Rules: As with our last contest, the submission needs to be created specifically for this contest, so the above examples are not eligible. Other than that, there are only three rules:
- The tribute should be to someone whose work is relevant to evolution. They can be a scientist themselves, or someone whose work is relevant to evolution in another way such as a paleoartist. This requirement is pretty flexible, since almost everything in biology is relevant to evolution somehow. However, it shouldn’t be someone like Isaac Newton whose work was in an entirely different field.
- The tribute should somehow be representative of the person’s work. In other words, it should be more than just a portrait.
- Please pick someone other than Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, or Stephen Jay Gould. Not that those people aren’t deserving of credit, but they receive an immense amount of recognition already, and the purpose of this contest is to give more recognition to people whose work in this field you think receives less of credit than it deserves. (However, we would be happy to receive a tribute to Niles Eldredge, who was the co-author of most of Gould’s research but receives far less credit than Gould does.)
In addition to the people listed above (Wallace, Sagan, Ostrom, Eldredge, and Watson & Crick), here are a few more possibilities if anyone is looking for suggestions:
- E. O. Wilson, the founder of modern sociobiology and a major researcher on social behavior in ants.
- Ernst Mayr, whose research in evolutionary biology and genetics led to the modern understanding of how speciation occurs.
- William Beebe, one of the founders of the field of ecology, and the first biologist to study deep-sea animals in their native environment using the Bathysphere. He’s also known for his prescient theories about bird evolution, such as his prediction that the ancestors of birds had leg-wings 88 years before fossil evidence confirmed this. (Incidentally, I’m the author of Wikipeda’s article about him.)
- Choose your own person! These suggestions are only for in case you’re having trouble thinking of one.
As before, to submit an entry you should upload it at DA and submit it to the group. We will create a special folder in the group for this year’s contest entries.
The Judging: There will be ONE winner, and the winner will be chosen by myself and EWilloughby. The winning entry will be chosen based on any combination of style, skill, creativity, and execution. The contest will be over on July 1st. We would prefer to not have to extend our deadline the way we did last year, although we may choose to do so again depending on how many submissions we receive in the month that we plan on the contest being open. Don’t count on having more than a month to submit your entry.
The Prize: For our contest last year, the prize was a gift certificate to The Evolution Store, which sells an impressive selection of evolution-related products. After the contest was finished, however, we discovered that even though the evolution store’s website claims that gift certificates to this store are redeemable online, in fact they must be physically mailed to the store’s address in New York City. Since the winner of our contest was someone who lives in Germany, this ended up being pretty inconvenient for him. Therefore, this year we’re choosing a prize that we hope won’t involve as much difficulty for whoever ends up winning.
This year’s prize is The Book of Naturalists, an anthology of what this book’s editor considers the world’s best natural history writing, including works from many authors who deserve more recognition than they get. The book’s editor, William Beebe, is himself in my opinion one of the most under-appreciated biologists of the twentieth century. We’ve chosen this book because it’s relevant to the subject of our contest, but if the winner of the contest already owns this book or would rather receive something else, they’ll also have the option of choosing any other evolution-related item from Amazon.com for their prize, as long as the item plus shipping costs fifty dollars or less.
As before, if you enter the contest and win, you’ll need to be comfortable with giving me or EWilloughby your home address so the prize can be shipped to you. If you win but aren’t willing to give us your address, we’ll be willing to offer a DA subscription or something similar as a substitute prize, but it won’t be nearly as interesting as this book or any of Amazon.com’s other evolution-related products. When a winner is chosen, Ferahgo or I will contact them to ask whether they would rather receive this book or something else.
Good luck, and remember: even if you don’t win, your submission will help give more recognition to someone who deserves it, which is a reward in itself.