Each year a committee of faculty and students undertakes the difficult task of choosing the best journal articles from the many high-quality papers written by VIMS graduate students. Each paper considered is either accepted, in press, or published in a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal. The papers reflect the superb quality of the research conducted by VIMS students and the outstanding mentoring of their advisors. Papers are judged for the scope of problem, degree of challenge, magnitude of student’s effort, hypothesis formulation and testing, and writing style.
The committee, which included Kam Tang, Richard Brill, Carl Friedrichs, Ana Verissimo, and Ryan Carnegie, evaluated 9 papers in both the Ph.D. and Master's categories.
This year’s choice for the best paper by a Master’s student goes to Patrick Lynch for his article "Net removal of nitrogen through ingestion of phytoplankton by Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus in Chesapeake Bay" which was published in Marine Ecology Progress Series and co-authored by Mark Brush, Elizabeth Condon, and Rob Latour.
As filter-feeding planktivores, Atlantic menhaden have the potential to influence water quality through ingestion of phytoplankton and assimilation of resultant nutrients. In this study, Patrick conducted a series of laboratory experiments using natural assemblages of plankton in York River water to describe the feeding ecology of menhaden and ultimately estimate rates of phytoplankton ingestion and total dissolved nitrogen excretion. Although somewhat uncertain, best available point estimates of population-level net nitrogen removal imply that menhaden likely play a minimal role regarding water quality in Chesapeake Bay.
The most meritorious student author in the Ph.D. category was judged to be Jianmin (Jimmy) Ye for "The strength of B cell interaction determines the degree of IgM polymerization," which was published in the Journal of Immunology and co-authored by Erin Bromage and Steve Kaattari.
Jimmy's paper determined both the how and why of fish antibody's unique structural variability. This has been an immunological enigma for the past 30 years. His findings not only challenge a basic immunological theory, but have important implications for mammalian immunology as well.
The submitted papers once again demonstrate the high quality and broad reach of work by VIMS students.