EEB graduate student Jingchun Li is this year's recipient of the Donald W. Tinkle Scholarship from the U-M Museum of Zoology.
“This is the UMMZ's most prestigious student award, given on the basis of outstanding performance as a doctoral student,” said Professor Diarmaid Ó Foighil, director and curator of the museum. “The evaluation committee was especially impressed by Jingchun's publication record, her creative and independent research program, and her strong record of mentorship, teaching and outreach.”
Li researches speciation, biogeography and marine invertebrate ecology with her advisor, Ó Foighil. “Both geographic and ecological factors influence diversification patterns of taxa,” according to Li. “I am interested in how ecological factors, especially biotic associations, affect lineage diversification processes in marine environments. My study system is the hyper-diverse marine bivalve superfamily Galeommatoidea”
Many members in this group have either necessary (obligate) or optional (facultative) associations with other marine invertebrates. These associations are mostly commensal, wherein one organism benefits without affecting the other. Li is testing whether the unique lifestyle of galeommatoideans contributes to their high species diversity and morphological disparity, and if so, seeking possible mechanisms.
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. The award is for $5,000.