Plasmid Biology Prize

The Plasmid Biology Prize has replaced the Brian Wilkins Prize which was awarded 2004 to 2016.

The Plasmid Biology Prize 2018 was in memory of Karin Ippen-Ihler and was awarded to Jeronimo Rodriguez-Beltran. 

The Plasmid Biology Prize 2022 was in memory of Naomi Datta and was awarded to Rafael Pinilla Redondo.

The next deadline for applications will be announced before the 2024 conference.  Details of the application process are described under point 6 below.  Queries should be sent electronically to Christopher M Thomas (

1. The purpose of the Prize is to recognize an outstanding young scientist with a commitment to studying mobile genetic elements, horizontal gene transfer or properties linked to these topics that are appropriate to be presented at the biennial conference of the Society.
2. The Prize will also serve as a way of recognizing those who have made important contributions to Plasmid Biology but who are no longer with us.  For each conference such a person will be chosen and they will be featured in the conference program so that their achievements and contributions can be remembered.
3. The prize will be awarded to a scientist just starting their career either as a PhD student, a Post doc, or embarking on their first permanent job. It is expected that the work on which the award will be based should have been carried out during postgraduate studies or the first three years of laboratory work following award of their PhD. The Prize Committee set up to award the prize for a particular conference will have the power to interpret this rule flexibly so long as the spirit of the award is to recognize a scientist near the start of their career. Account may be taken of career breaks for parenthood or other substantive reasons as appropriate.
4. The Prize will be awarded to a scientist who displays a number of qualities that we expect all scientists to aspire to. Of key importance are:


  1. a topic that is judged as significant by the Prize Committee who assess their presentations;
  2. enthusiasm for and competence in the literature of their research area;
  3. clever and innovative experimental design so that the work performed is not just data generation but involves sophisticated exploration of background knowledge and logical dissection of the problem being studied;
  4. clear and enthusiastic communication of their work.
5. It will normally be expected that those nominated for the Prize will be planning to attend the Plasmid Biology Conference at which the prize will be awarded. It is not the intention for the prize to be used to cover the cost of attending the meeting.
6. Individuals can apply for the Prize themselves or they can be nominated by someone else. For the application to be considered the Prize Committee will need to receive: an Abstract covering the work that they would present at the conference; a curriculum vitae of the applicant, including an outline of their career progression; copies of each of the papers on which the case for the award is being made; supporting statements from three referees; and a covering letter from the applicant or the person who nominates the applicant explaining how the individual fulfils the criteria for the Prize. Where the papers to be considered are multi-authored, appropriate referees (for example the senior scientist in whose laboratory the work was carried out) will be asked to indicate the proportion of the work that was directly attributable to the applicant.
7. The applications will be considered by the Prize Committee which will be set up in advance of each Plasmid Biology Conference.  A shortlist of no more than five candidates will be drawn up. All of these applicants will be asked to present talks at the Plasmid Biology Conference.
8. The Prize Committee will listen to all the talks at the Plasmid Biology Conference and one person will be chosen as the winner. The prize will be awarded at the end of the conference.
9. The Prize will be in the region of 1000 US Dollars.
10. The Winner of the prize will be expected to spend the prize money in such a way as to support their scientific career. The winner will be allowed to use their discretion in the way that this is used. However, in order to publicise the award, the Winner will normally be expected to provide a brief report on how the money was used so that there is a record of how the money has benefited the individual.