Colbert Prize

Theropod trackway, Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite, Wyoming, photo credit: Thomas Holtz

Colbert Prize

© Michael Skrepnick

Selected and presented onsite at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s Annual Meeting, the Edwin H. and Margaret M. Colbert Prize recognizes an outstanding student poster presentation. The prize was named in honor of the Colberts’ contributions to Vertebrate Paleontology.


  • Current membership in SVP is required.
  • The competition is open to all students who wish to present aspects of their graduate, or in exceptional cases, undergraduate paleontological research.
  • One submission per year is accepted.
  • Previous Colbert Prize winners may not enter the competition again. Previous entrants and finalists are strongly encouraged to enter again if eligible.
  • The research presented should be new and unpublished.
  • The abstract and poster must be single or first authored by the student.
  • The poster itself must also:
    1. include the Poster Prize Icon, such that its printed size is 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Download the prize icon here.
    2. if multi-authored, contain a section explaining author contributions. The section should be visible and easy to find. The student is expected to carry a significant part of the work.
    3. the title (matching that of the accepted abstract) and should be situated high up on the poster so that it can be read 15-20 feet away.
    4. include a title banner, author(s) and affiliation(s) with the academic institution where the research was or is being done.
    5. be in English.
    6. not exceed the dimensions given in the meeting guidelines (see detail provided in poster acceptance letters)
    7. be set up by 9:30am on the day of the competition at latest (preferably earlier, venue allowing).


  • A cash award of several hundred dollars (USD).
  • A prize ribbon and certificate
  • A winner profile on the website of the Colbert Award


Please submit an abstract using the Online Abstract Submission System. Any materials sent by email, fax or mail will NOT be reviewed. Presenting authors who are Student Members of SVP will need to opt in to the Colbert Prize competition and also indicate a preference for a poster presentation on the abstract submission site in order be considered. Students will be nominated depending on the score given to their abstract by the reviewers, who are independent from this Panel. Nominated students will be contacted by email and asked to confirm their presence in the competition. Vacant spots left by nominees who opted out will not be filled from the list of remaining candidates.


  • Posters in the competition will bear a specific marking in the abstract book to designate them as being part of the competition.
  • Be alert for instructions concerning set-up times for posters. Venue permitting the posters may be set-up on day one and displayed for the full four days of the conference (but please wait for confirmation of this).
  • A few days before the conference, it is appreciated if an A4 pdf of the poster is sent to the Colbert Panel Chair. This may be used by the Colbert Prize Panel when discussing the posters in private and for the Powerpoint presentation at the Awards Banquet when the winner is announced.
  • Preliminary judging of posters will occur after poster set-up time (without the presenters present) but prior to the regular poster session. Layout and content will count equally in the judging of posters. The panel will select five to seven finalists.
  • All students are expected to be present at their poster during the afternoon poster session on the day of the competition (usually day two of the conference). A no-show means elimination from the competition.
  • The Colbert Prize Panel will visit finalists’ posters during the afternoon poster session to evaluate each presenter’s knowledge of the material covered in the poster.
  • The winner will be contacted before the Awards Banquet and may be asked to set up their poster again prior to the Awards Banquet.



  • The Poster Prize Icon must be included on the poster, such that its printed size is 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Download the prize icon here.
  • If multi-authored, the poster must contain a section explaining author contributions.
  • The student is expected to have carried out the majority of the research in addition to being responsible for preparing the poster itself. Examples of acceptable co-author contributions include organization of fieldwork; provision of lab space, equipment, or specimens.
  • The title (matching that of the accepted abstract) must be included and should be situated high up on the poster so that it can be read 15-20 feet away.
  • Author(s) and affiliation(s) must be included, ideally below the title.
  • Consistent with JVP guidelines, posters must be in English.
  • The poster may not exceed the dimensions given in the meeting guidelines (usually: 231.14 cm wide and 114.3 cm high) and a landscape orientation is preferred.
  • The poster must be set up by 9:30 am on the day of the competition.


  • The content of the poster should include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion and References.
  • It is unnecessary, and a waste of valuable space, to repeat the abstract from the meeting’s abstract book.
  • The Introduction must provide the basis of investigation and the direction/approach to answer the question(s) being considered. Ideally a numbered list of aims or questions should be provided.
  • The Methods of the investigation must be presented clearly.
  • The Results must be presented in a manner that is understandable and must support the Conclusions drawn. Are there possible alternatives in interpretation?
  • Conclusions should follow from the original intent as outlined in the Introduction.
  • It is advisable to include a list of aims or questions in the Introduction, and a complementary list of conclusions at the end.
  • References should include any references cited in the body text or figure captions.
  • The poster should be self-explanatory, so that the main points (questions, methods, results) are communicated without the presenter being there.
  • Overall, the investigation should display some degree of creativity and originality.
  • You will also be judged on quality of science and scientific impact of investigation.


  • The flow of information through the poster should be explicit (e.g., use of arrows or numbers) and should be organized in such a way that the information is easily followed by the reader.
  • Text should be visible from about an arm’s length facilitated by appropriate choice of font, font size and line spacing.
  • The poster should be proofread for correct spelling and grammar.
  • Each illustration should have a headline title providing a take-home message with a more detailed caption below.
  • Images should be of suitably high resolution.
  • Use of color is encouraged but particularly for data points on graphs due consideration should be given to color vision deficiency (e.g. Wong B. 2011. Color blindness. Nature Methods 8: 441).
  • Complex or distracting background photographs (no matter how pretty) are discouraged.
  • There should be creativity in the presentation.


  • Familiar and comfortable with the layout and presented information.
  • Enthusiastic about the topic.
  • Knows more about the topic than is presented in the poster.
  • Knowledgeable about similar or closely-related studies (if there are any), or the history of research on the topic.
  • Communicates effectively and handles questions well.
  • Has an idea about where to take the research next.

Submissions for the 2021 Colbert Prize are now closed.


Dr. Judd Case & Dr. Gabriela Sobral, Co-Chairs, Colbert Prize Panel

Learn more about the Colberts