Selected Topics in Evolutionary Biology

Hi! Welcome to our correspondence seminar, Selected Topics in Evolutionary Biology (STEB)!

Have you ever wondered about the diversity of living organisms? Have you thought about differences between humans and chimapanzees, and how these differences came ro existence? Do you think that individual's DNA sequence help predict their risk of diabetes or cancer? Or are you fascinated by viruses?

In this correspondence seminar, we will try to answer these and other questions using evolutionary biology. We hope that this evolutionary perspective will not only be interesting to you, but will also help you appreciate the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’ in your biology classes, helping you learn what you need in an easy way.

To register for the fourth year of STEB (2020/2021), click here!

Register as soon as possible. Deadline for the first series is on the 29th of October! You can find the articles in the corresponding section, depending whether you are a beginner, or an advanced student.

What is STEB?

STEB is a correspondence seminar—a competition in solving interesting problems in biology for high school students like you. It consists of five rounds or “issues”. Each contains a short (and hopefully) interesting article, a few questions for you to answer and a small project for you to carry out at home.

Why should I participate?

If you want to understand the living world around you a bit better, you can learn a lot by looking at it from an evolutionary perspective. By reading the articles, you will see that many living things around (and including!) you have a far more fascinating backstory than you ever imagined. By participating in the competition, you will develop problem-solving skills that will be extremely useful at university, as well as the ability to write your thoughts clearly and explain your ideas and opinions.

The most successful students will receive prizes. The students from Slovakia will be invited to IST Austria. The most successful students from Germany and Denmark get invited to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön! However, even students from other countries are encouraged to compete! Even if you live too far to come to the meeting, you can receive a prize, if you are among the most successful students.

How can I participate?

It’s easy! Just register here and we will send you all five series by post or by email, whichever you prefer. You read the article, answer the questions and carry out the project at home whenever works best for you, then send us your responses and results before the deadline for each series. We will correct them and send you our feedback together with the next series.

This seminar will take place simultaneously in Slovakia and Germany, but is open to anyone. You can choose which language you prefer to respond in: German, Slovak, or English. Read the rules below carefully for more details.

Submitting your project

You can submit your answers and the project write-up electronically via our Google Classroom. You will be added to our Google Classroom after you complete the registration form and provide us with your valid gmail address. Alternatively, if you don't have a gmail address or don't wish to use Google Classroom, you can send your projects to


  • You can write in English, Slovak, Czech or German. Even Hindi if you really want to! We are very flexible. :-)

  • Pay attention to the deadline for each series. Send your write-up on time! You will lose 1 point for every day it is late. After 10 days, we will no longer correct your answers. As a time of submission we consider the date when your email was sent, or your letter postmarked.

  • You can use any books, articles or other material you find helpful in answering the questions and solving the problems. However, make sure you use your own words to explain the solution!

  • Remember that you compete alone. Do not share your results with anyone else competing in this competition! If your solutions are too similar, both of you will lose points!

  • We will evaluate the quality of your solutions, as well as the project write-up, so make sure you explain clearly what you do!

  • You are expected to send us not only the solution/results of the task but also the methodology you followed or a description of the experiment. Each project will come with a set of instructions explaining exactly what we expect from you.

  • By participating in this competition you agree that your name, school and score will appear in the Results Table.


  • Pay attention to points that you can get for each question, as not all of them were created equal!

  • Even if you don't know the exact solution or your experiment does not come out the way you hoped, send us what you have, as well as your ideas, opinions or the problems you encountered. Some points are better than none!

  • If you feel you deserve more points than you were awarded, let us know. We are all human and make mistakes. Maybe we misunderstood your response or missed something. Just let us know (in detail) what you think the problem was.

  • If you don't understand the questions or the problem, you can always ask! It is possible we did not write something clearly enough, and others have exactly the same questions!
    You can ask questions either via Google Classroom or email them to

  • Do not PANIC! If the problem seems too hard, it is likely hard for everyone. Plus, re-reading the article, checking out recommended material or a bit of googling can help you tremendously! And remember, you don't need to get the full points to do well.

Category A

This category is for new students only. You can find the series here.

Category B

This category is for students, that have already participated in the competition in the previous year. You can find the series here.


In case you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us at our main email address

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our webpage or Google Classroom, contact

Previous years

Final results of the competition 2018-19

The names of the first 25 students, invited to IST Austria, are now published.

Prvych 40.pdf

Slovak winners

Austrian winners

Final results of the competition 2017-18

The names of the first 25 students, invited to IST Austria, are now published.


Funding and acknowledgement

This seminar is supported by the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) Outreach Initiative Fund and IST Austria.

Furthermore, authors of the seminar have received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 704172 (RACE).