In this last post of our series, we speak to our overall winner.

Joe Wynn profile, kindly sent by Joe.

In celebration of the Biology Letters Best Paper Prize relaunching for 2024, we have spoken with our three finalists from last year. Our final post comes from our winner Joe Wynn for the research article 'Naive songbirds show seasonally appropriate spring orientation in the laboratory despite having never completed first migration'.

Tell us about yourself and your research article 

Hello! I’m a post-doc at the Institute for Avian Research in North Germany, and I study bird migration and how it changes over time. I’ve always found the idea that birds inherit spatial information to be a bit like magic, though increasingly have found myself thinking that the learnt processes underpinning bird movement are just as exciting. In this article, I was trying to build on previous work done over my D.Phil. to try and draw these two phenomena together.

Did you expect to be a finalist in our inaugural competition? And do you recommend that other early career researchers enter this year’s competition? 

I definitely did not expect to be a finalist in any competition! Truth be told, I wrote this manuscript on the notes section of my phone on fieldwork in Poland last year. We had lots of miles to cover, and I was trying to pass the time! It’s always funny seeing how other people see you and how their valuations of your work value differ from your own – it’s very rare that the papers that I think are good are the ones that other people also appreciate. To that end, I would always encourage people to be optimistic and positive when it comes to their research (including with regards to competitions!).

What’s next for you and your work? 

I am really just keen to keep getting paid to watch and catch birds! Having the freedom to ask exciting questions with cool people has always been my number one priority, so if I can continue to do that going forward that would be ideal. I’ve just started to dabble in genomic analyses which has been exciting, and I’d like to continue with that!

And finally, do you have any advice for upcoming generations of scientists in your field? 

I honestly have no idea! Perhaps I’d suggest that things other than work are also important? This probably sounds quite naïve, and maybe a bit robotic, but a lot of the time I find myself thinking about the ‘project’ when applying for things, and not necessarily the rest of my life. For sure picking a topic/supervisor that suit you is essential, but if you’re not enjoying the other stuff then it’s hard to enjoy work to the same extent.


We hope that these posts serve as inspiration for your research. You have until the 30th April if would like to enter our competition. Good luck if you are doing so, and please contact the editorial office for more information at any time. All the successful entrants from 2023 can also be found on our special collection page.


Image credits:

Joe Wynn profile, kindly sent by Joe.


  • Surayya Johar

    Surayya Johar