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Society for the History of Natural History


Awards, Honours and Medals

William T. Stearn Student Essay Prize


SHNH William T. Stearn Student Essay Prize 2021

Stearn Student Essay Prize 2021

Instituted in 2007 to commemorate the work of  William T. Stearn (1911–2001), a scholar whose work contributed much to the field and to this Society, the prize is awarded to the best original, unpublished essay in the history of natural history.

The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students worldwide in full- or part-time education and not limited to members of SHNH.

The winner will receive £300 and the winning essay will normally be published in the Society’s journal Archives of Natural History, subject to the normal editorial process.

Download 2021 SHNH Stearn Essay Poster

 

William T. Stearn, CBE FLS VMH, was an outstanding botanical scholar, deemed the complete naturalist and was described in his obituary in The Times as “the greatest botanical authority of the twentieth century”.  Born in Chesterton, Cambridge, he developed an early interest in books and natural history.  He worked at the British Museum (Natural History) from 1953–1976, retiring as a Senior Principal Scientific Officer. After his retirement, he continued working there, writing, and serving on a number of professional bodies related to his work, including the Linnean Society of London, of which he became president. He also taught botany at Cambridge University as a visiting professor (1977–1983).

Professor Stearn is known for his work in botanical taxonomy and botanical history, particularly classical botanical literature, botanical illustration and for his studies of the Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus. His best known books are his “Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners”, a popular guide to the scientific names of plants, and his “Botanical Latin” for scientists and he is the the botanical authority for over 400 plant species. William Stearn received many honours for his work, at home and abroad, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997. He received the Linnean Gold Medal of The Linnean Society of London (1976), and the Society for the History of Natural History’s Founders’ Medal (1986).

The SHNH Stearn Student Essay Prize was established in his honour by the Society for the History of Natural History and Amelia Urry is the twelfth winner of the prize.


Prize Guidelines

    •  Prize winners are chosen by a panel of 3 judges (all members of the Society).
    • Competition opens on 01 January 2021.
    • All entries must be received by the Secretary by 31 July 2021.
    • Essays should not have been previously published, and must not be under consideration at another journal.
Archives of Natural History

Selection Criteria

    •  The prize will be awarded to the essay which contributes most significantly to the history of natural history, including its social and cultural aspects.

Submission

Entries must be in English and between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length including footnotes and references. Each entry must be accompanied by an abstract of between 300 and 500 words and keywords.

    • Entries must follow the Style Guidelines of Archives of Natural History (https://www.euppublishing.com/page/anh/submissions).
    • Two copies of the essay (one Word document, one pdf) should be e-mailed to the SHNH Secretary (secretary@shnh.org.uk). If the files are large please send by We Transfer (https://wetransfer.com/).
    • There should be no reference to your name or your institution on the essay itself.
    • The completed Application Form  and proof of student status should also be attached.
    • Applicants will be notified of the results when the judges have reached their decision.

Download 2021 poster

Download 2021 Application Form

W. T. Stearn Essay Prize Winners

 

Amelia Urry

Amelia Urry (University of Cambridge) is the twelfth winner of the prize 2020 for her essay Hearsay, Gossip, Misapprehension: Alfred Newton’s secondhand histories of extinction. For more information see: https://shnh.org.uk/news/shnh-stearn-essay-prize-2020-awarded-to-amelia-urry-cambridge/

Winner of the 2019 Stearn Essay Prize Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith (University of Cambridge) was the eleventh winner of the prize (2019) for his essay Provincial mycology and the legacy of Henry Thomas Soppitt (1858–1899). Published in Archives of natural history 47 (2): 219-235 (October 2020). For more information see:  https://shnh.org.uk/news/william-t-stearn-essay-prize-2019/

  • 2020
Amelia Urry, University of Cambridge (History and Philosophy of Science). PhD student in Antarctic climate science. Hearsay, Gossip, Misapprehension: Alfred Newton’s secondhand histories of extinction.
  • 2019
Nathan Smith. University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology. PhD student in Molecular Ecology. Provincial mycology and the legacy of Henry Thomas Soppitt (1858–1899). Published in Archives of natural history 47 (2): 219-235 (October 2020). Available at: https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/anh.2020.0650
  • 2018
Carissa Chew. University of Edinburgh. Orientalism and the ant: empire, race and myrmecology. Published in Archives of natural history 46 (2): 347-361 (October 2019). Available at: https://doi.org/10.3366/anh.2019.0595
  • 2017
Aaron van Neste. Harvard University. PhD student in the History of Science.  Practising taxonomy: Joel Asaph Allen and species making. Published in Archives of natural history 45 (2): 197-212 (October 2018). Available at: https://doi.org/10.3366/anh.2018.0514
  • 2016
Lee Raye. Cardiff University, PhD student in The Forgotten Beasts in Medieval Britain.  The Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) in early modern Scotland. Published in Archives of natural history 44 (2): 321-333 (October 2017). Available at: https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/anh.2017.0452
  • 2015
Etienne Stockland. Columbia University, Phd Candidate in History, 2010-2016. Patriotic natural history and sericultural natural reform in the French enlightenment. Published in Archives of natural history 44 (1): 1-18 (April, 2017). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/anh.2017.0410
  • 2014
Matthew Holmes, University of Leeds, PhD student in Food Security in the Biotech Age: The National Institute of Agricultural Botany since 1970. The perfect pest: natural history & the red squirrel in nineteenth-century Scotland. Published in Archives of natural history 42 (1): 113-125 (April, 2015). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/anh.2015.0284
  • 2012
Andrea Kennedy, University of Cambridge MPhil student 2011-12. The beauty of Victorian beasts: illustration in Rev. J.G. Wood’s Homes without Hands. Published in Archives of natural history 40 (2): 193 – 212 (October, 2013): 193-212. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/anh.2013.0168
  • 2010
Nils Petter Hellström, who completed his M.Phil. in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. The tree as evolutionary icon: Tania Kovats’s TREE in the Natural History Museum. Published in Archives of Natural History 38 (1): 1-17 (April, 2011). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/anh.2011.0001
  • 2009
Stephanie Pfennigwerth, School of English, Journalism and European Languages, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia. ‘The mighty cassowary’: the discovery and demise of the King Island emu. Published in Archives of Natural History 37 (1): 74-90 (April, 2010). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/E0260954109001661
  • 2008
Ross Brooks, Department of History, Oxford Brooks University, Oxford, UK. All too human: responses to same-sex copulation in the common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha (L.), 1834-1900. Published in Archives of Natural History 36 (1): 146-159 (April, 2009). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/E0260954108000703
  • 2007
Heather Brink-Roby, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Siren canora: the mermaid and the mythical in late nineteenth-century science. Published in Archives of Natural History 35 (1): 1-14 (April, 2008). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/E0260954108000041