Edwin H. and Margaret M. Colbert Prize

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

Edwin H. and Margaret M. 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 paleontological research.
  • 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  • The research presented should be new and unpublished.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.


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


Abstracts are to be submitted using the Online Abstract Submission System for SVP. Presenting authors who are Student Members of SVP will need to opt in to the Colbert Prize competition in order to be considered. Besides indicating a preference for a poster presentation, presenting authors need to select a fitting topic session on the abstract submission site. Students will be selected for the Colbert Prize competition depending on the score given to their abstract by a committee of reviewers. Selected students will be contacted by email and asked to confirm their participation in the competition.


  • 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.
  • Authors who have received confirmation about being accepted to the session must provide a digital version of the poster (PDF, PNG, or similar) according to SVP procedures and timelines, and this version will be passed on to the Colbert Prize Committee before the conference. This is used for evaluating posters prior to the finalist interviews, and ensures that the full committee can be part of the process even in hybrid arrangements.
  • Preliminary judging of posters will occur prior to the regular poster session. 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. A no-show by the presenter, means elimination of the poster from the competition.
  • The Colbert Prize Committee 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.
  • The title (similar to 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.
  • The poster must be set up by 9:30 am on the day of the competition.


  • The content of the poster should include information on the question being addressed, the methodology used, results, conclusions and references, but there is no fixed format for the layout of sections.
  • The poster should be self-explanatory, so that the main points (questions, methods, results) are communicated without the presenter being there.
  • It is unnecessary to repeat the abstract previously submitted.
  • The Introduction must provide the basis of investigation and the direction/approach to answer the question(s) being considered.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • We encourage posters to be proofread for correct spelling and grammar.
  • Each illustration should have a take-home message. Images should be of suitably high resolution.
  • There should be creativity in the presentation.


  • Familiar and comfortable with the layout and presented information.
  • Enthusiastic about the topic.
  • Demonstrate greater knowledge 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.
  • Communicate effectively and handles questions well.
  • Has an idea about where to take the research next.

The SVP 2024 abstract submission platform is now open! Click here to submit your abstract and apply for the 2024 Colbert Prize. The abstract submission deadline is Monday, May 20, 2024 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Ashley Poust and Agnese Lanzetti, Co-Chairs, Colbert Prize Panel

Learn more about the Colberts