Sponsored Symposia


The Society for the Study of Evolution supports symposia (typically two) at its annual meetings in order to highlight new topics, provide new perspectives, or generate new syntheses. The exact configuration of symposia may vary from year to year, but proposals should tentatively assume six half-hour slots.

SSE Council considers the novelty of the topic and likely interest among its members when selecting symposia to sponsor. Sub-fields or taxonomic groups that have been underrepresented in past symposia will be considered preferentially. Previous sponsored symposia are listed below.

SSE Council seriously considers the diversity of participants as a criterion for symposium funding. Symposium organizers are expected to take into account gender, seniority, nationality, and other axes of diversity traditionally underrepresented in Society symposia, and to describe their efforts in the proposal.

The Society provides support for organizers and participants in sponsored symposia to attend and present at the annual meeting (up to $9000 per symposium). The SSE Council accepts requests for additional funds for dependent care costs if this would allow a speaker to attend. 

2020 Sponsored Symposia

To be presented at the Evolution 2020 meeting in Cleveland, OH, USA on June 19-23, 2020.

Evolution in the tropics: 70 years since Dobzhansky (Oscar Vargas, Kathleen Kay)

Tropical diversity has long fascinated biologists, but most research to-date has addressed the ecological mechanisms maintaining diversity rather than evolutionary mechanisms generating diversity. The last review of Dobzhansky’s biotic selection hypothesis from an evolutionary perspective is now a decade old. This symposium seeks to synthesize the evolutionary history and importance of biotic and abiotic selective factors to diversification in the tropics, and to set the stage for advancing the field. Our symposium encompasses several sub-disciplines, including (but not restricted to) ecology, phylogenetics, and biogeography, and selected speakers have varied taxonomic foci, including a broad range of plants and animals.

Using machine learning to understand the evolution of biodiversity (Chris Hamilton, Marek Borowiec)

The past decade has seen exponential growth of data and tremendous successes of artificial intelligence and machine learning. While major technology companies are rethinking their strategies around AI, biology is only beginning to catch up with the revolution. The power of using machine learning to understand the evolution of biodiversity comes from two major sources: 1) the ability to model arbitrarily complex patterns, and 2) increased computational efficiency.We will feature a diverse set of talks that take the attendee through the fantastic story of how machine learning is being used to better understand the evolution of biodiversity. Our presenters and their talks will illuminate topics and methodologies ranging from species delimitation, phylogeny inference, predictive phylogeography, speciation, mimicry, conservation, genomics, and population genetics.

Submission Details

*Submissions for the 2020 Sponsored Symposia are now closed. Submisions for the 2021 Sponsored Symposia will open in April 2020.*

Proposals should be sent by email to SSE Executive Vice-President Andrea Case (execvp@evolutionsociety.org) as a single attachment in PDF format (subject: SSE Symposium Proposal). Please request and expect confirmation of receipt of the proposal.

Symposium proposals may be submitted by any SSE member and must include:

  • A title and list of organizers, with affiliations.
  • A synopsis of the symposium theme (one page). This synopsis should clarify what is novel or synthetic about the symposium and why it would be of interest to the membership of the society.
  • A statement that the symposium and its participants are unique among recent SSE sponsored symposia (one paragraph). Symposia from the past three SSE meetings should be consulted to ensure that there have not been recent related symposia (see below). In case of overlap, the proposal must differentiate itself clearly from the recent symposium. If the proposed topic helps fill a gap in the areas covered by past SSE symposia (e.g., in terms of sub-field or taxonomic focus), this should be highlighted.
  • A list of speakers, including institutional affiliations, career stage (i.e., student, postdoc, junior scientist <10 years post-PhD, senior scientist), and tentative title. Organizers may or may not be speakers.
  • A description of how the topic of each speaker’s proposed talk fits together with the theme of the proposal (one page). This is particularly important in cases where the connection of a title to the topic and/or to the field of evolution is less clear. This section should provide a rationale for how the talks will fit together to support the theme of the symposium.
  • A statement that all potential speakers have been contacted and agree to participate in the symposium.
  • A diversity statement detailing the ways in which the organizers have ensured that the speakers reflect an array of perspectives (one paragraph). Symposium organizers are expected to take into account gender, seniority, nationality, and other aspects traditionally underrepresented in Society symposia when preparing proposals.
  • A reference section.

[1] The SSE Council accepts requests for additional funds for dependent care costs if this would allow a speaker to attend. This request can be made in item (7) by stating: “Additional funds are requested for dependent care to facilitate the attendance of [specify number] speakers.”

Recent SSE Symposia

2019: Evolution 2019, Providence, Rhode Island

  • Integrating ecological interactions into macroevolution [Organizers: David Hembry, Marjorie Weber]
  • Outside the models for understanding the evolution of sex chromosomes and sex determination: insights from fishes, amphibians, and reptiles [Organizers: Max Lambert, Rob Denton, John Malone]

2018: [Not applicable. Joint meeting with ESEB.]

2017: Evolution 2017, Portland, Oregon

  • Evolution in Urban Ecosystems [Organizers: Emily Puckett and Jason Munshi-South]
  • The Impact of Stress on Genetic Variation [Organizer: Laurie Stevison]


  • How and why? Towards an evolutionary physiological synthesis [Organizer: Chris Muir]
  • Co-evolving genomes: Cooperation and conflict in cytonuclear interactions [Organizers: Justin Havird, Geoffrey Hill, and Daniel Sloan]


  • Epigenetics and Evolutionary Processes [Organizers: Joshua Banta and Christina Richards]
  • The multiple dimensions of biodiversity science [Organizers: Ana Carnaval and Christopher Dick]
  • When Gene Flow Really Matters: Gene Flow and Applied Plant Evolutionary Biology [Organizer: Norman C. Ellstrand]

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