UMMZ’s endowments from early 1900s support today’s students: 2014 awards announced


Jun 04, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Each year, the U-M Museum of Zoology dips into its historical endowments, some of which date from the early 1900s, to award scholarships to support graduate students’ research projects.

Qixin HeEEB graduate student Qixin He is this year's recipient of the Donald W. Tinkle Scholarship from the UMMZ. 

“I'm delighted to announce that Qixin He is the winner of the UMMZ's most prestigious award, in part for her innovative research on the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae,” said Professor and EEB Chair Diarmaid Ó Foighil, director and curator of the museum. He, whose advisor is Professor L. Lacey Knowles, received $5,000.

“I study genomics of the mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) to determine how inversions, a kind of genomic structural variation, are facilitating local adaptation,” said He. “A. gambiae is the primary malaria vector that is widely distributed in sub-Sahara. Several inversions are found to be associated with different humidity levels. I inferred specific demographic models for different genomic regions from genome-wide genetic markers. By simulating genomic regions without selection using these models, I identified genes that might confer to adaptation. Our approach offers a general procedure for locating selection when population divergence (or speciation) is promoted by structural genomic variants that limit the power of traditional tests for selection.”

The scholarship was endowed by the family and friends of Dr. Tinkle, who joined U-M in 1965 as professor and curator of reptiles and amphibians. Tinkle became director of the Museum of Zoology in 1975 and served until his death in 1980. He was a systematist, an evolutionary biologist, an evolutionary ecologist and an exceptional teacher whose most important legacy is the group of students he inspired. In the field, especially, he was known for his enthusiasm, endurance and sense of humor.

Tristan McKnightTristan McKnight, Carlos Muñoz Ramírez, Paula Teichholtz and Andréa Thomaz  received the Hinsdale & Walker Scholarships, which were created to support doctoral student research in the museum. 

“I am studying how ecological specializations in a genus of predatory robber flies (Asilidae: Lasiopogon) have evolved,” said McKnight. “The niches of different species span a variety of habitats, perch substrates (whatever the flies sit on), and seasonal phenology. However, before we can analyze patterns of specialization and ecological sorting, we must have a better understanding of taxonomic boundaries and phylogenetic relationships. This award helped fund collecting trips in the western U.S.A. so I could gather fresh specimens for genetic sequencing, as well as the lab work here.” McKnight, whose advisor is Knowles, received $3,800.

Carlos MunozMuñoz Ramírez is investigating mimicry in a group of ground beetles from southern South America. “The group offers an unusual opportunity to test a hypothesis about the origin of phenotype diversity in Müllerian mimicry, its interaction with past events (e.g., glaciations), and the potential role of mimicry on speciation,” Muñoz Ramírez said. His advisor is Knowles and he received $4,500.

Paula TeichholtzTeichholtz $4,500 award will support field work this summer for her research on development, population genetics, and dispersal patterns in marine parasitic snails. Her advisor is Professor Tom Duda.

Thomaz evaluates how species-specific barriers related to differences in the stream order they inhabit may influence patterns of population connectivity among broadly co-occurring species of tetras. “For that we will use a comparative approach among four different species that live in different portions of a river (i.e., headwaters and river mouth) across multiple Brazilian coastal basins,” Thomaz said. Her advisor is Knowles and she received $4,300.

Edwin C. Hinsdale was one of the best known and most highly honored pioneer citizens of Detroit. He gained distinction in civic affairs, as a member of the bar, and for his boundless charitable works. He attended U-M for one year from 1847 - 1848. He was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1858 and practiced until his death nearly 40 years later. He was the treasurer of the city of Detroit from 1871- 1876, bringing order out of a chaotic time. In 1921, Genevieve S. Hinsdale bequeathed a part of her estate to establish a scholarship in her father’s name.

Edward Carey Walker graduated from Yale College (1842) and received his law degree from Harvard University. He served as secretary of the Detroit Board of Education from 1864 - 1882 and was a leading member of the U-M Board of Regents in the 1860s. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1876. The E.C. Walker Scholarship was established by his son, Bryant Walker, in his father's memory, to make an annual award for graduate scholarship excellence in biology under the direction of the Museum of Zoology.

Joanna LarsonJoanna Larson and Pascal Title were awarded the Charles F. Walker Scholarship, which supports graduate student field research in herpetology. Both are advised by Professor Dan Rabosky.

Larson received $2,400 for her project "Assessing the prevalence of an emerging fungal pathogen in Gabon, Africa."

“This grant will fund labwork to investigate the extent of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) infection in frogs across Gabon,” said Larson. “In 2013, I visited previously unsurveyed areas in the eastern part of the country and collected skin swabs from frogs that I will be testing this summer. The disease caused by this emerging fungal pathogen, chytridiomycosis, has caused mass die offs of amphibians around the world and several species are in danger of or have already gone extinct from it. The distribution of chytrid is not well-resolved at a fine spatial or taxonomic scale, which has limited our understanding of its evolutionary history and therefore our ability to combat it.”

Pascal Title“I am interested in how the landscape and habitat associations influence species' ability to disperse, and what this means for genetic differentiation,” said Title. “If species are affected differently by the surrounding landscape due to their different habitat preferences and requirements, then we might be able to better understand species distributions, and what promotes speciation. These research awards will allow me to conduct fieldwork in the Australian desert, where lizard diversity is at its highest, and where different lizard species tend to associate themselves with different habitat types. From next-generation sequencing of samples collected in the field, I will be able to investigate hypotheses regarding how the population genetics of these different species are influenced by their environment, and the implications of these results towards speciation and macroevolution. Title received $2,500.

Charles F. Walker was an honored and much loved curator from 1947 - 1975. His former students and faculty associates created the fund to commemorate and extend the activities he was famous for. He influenced many students in different fields of zoology well beyond herpetology.

Andrea ThomazThomaz was also awarded the Hubbs, Carl L. and Laura C. Fellowship, which is for an ichthyology research student. The fellowship covers 50 percent of the graduate student research assistant (GSRA) stipend, fall and winter tuition costs, and dental and health benefits. Thomas met the requirements which are to be a Ph.D. student who has completed one year of half-time teaching duties through EEB as well as one year of half-time curatorial assistantship duties through UMMZ's Fish Division. She has also been contributing to the Fish Division collection with specimens from her field work.

Carl Leavitt Hubbs married Laura Cornelia Clark on June 15, 1918 and they had three children. They received their B.A. and master’s degrees at Stanford University prior to their marriage and Laura became a math teacher.

In 1920, Hubbs became curator of fish at the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, a position he held for 24 years. In 1927, he received his Ph.D., writing his dissertation on “The Consequences of Structural Modifications of the Developmental Rate in Fishes Considered in Reference to Certain Problems of Evolution.” Hubbs and his students greatly enriched the museum's collection. Hubbs began to study hybridization among different species of fish.

A prolific writer, Hubbs issued 712 publications. He studied the fish of the Great Lakes and expanded his research to include marine mammals after moving to California. He educated the public from 1920 to 1930 on the need to protect the habitats of marine mammals.