Churchill awarded UMMZ Tinkle Scholarship
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
EEB graduate student Celia Churchill has received the Donald W. Tinkle Scholarship from U-M Museum of Zoology. This $5,000 award is a special recognition of her research excellence. Churchill researches marine invertebrate evolution and systematics with her advisor, Professor Diarmaid Ó Foighil.
“The past decade of evolutionary research highlights the inadequacy of applying terrestrial models of speciation to marine lineages,” said Churchill. “While the recent Challenger Deep expedition promoted the ocean floor as ‘Earth’s final frontier,’ the reality is that we know very little about open ocean communities at any depth. How is biodiversity created and maintained at sea? To answer that question, I have focused upon the neuston, a community of drifting animals at the surface of tropical and temperate seas. The ultimate goal of my doctoral research is to construct a comprehensive phylogeny/phylogeography of the neuston across three trophic levels (zooxanthellar algae, their cnidarian hosts, and predatory mollusks) and all five of the planet’s subtropical gyre systems (giant rotating ocean surface currents). Collectively, these results will help develop an in-depth understanding of the inherent biodiversity and evolutionary history of the neuston community, which occupies over 60 percent of the Earth’s surface.”
On a related note, Churchill’s recent research on bubble-rafting snails (published October 2011) in Current Biology was featured in the April 2012 issue of the National Geographic magazine.
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. It is entirely appropriate that a scholarship awarded to an outstanding student in the Museum of Zoology each year is in his name.
In this article:
Churchill, Celia; Ó Foighil, Diarmaid