The John E. Olney Sr. Ichthyology Award honors the distinguished career of the late Professor John Olney, and his unwavering dedication to fostering young marine scientists and ichthyologists. The intent of this award is to celebrate John’s life and accomplishments and inspire future scientists by supporting their pursuit of knowledge and professional growth. This award provides funds to deserving graduate students for participation in educational and professional development activities, including attendance at meetings, workshops, and special research opportunities in ichthyology.
The recipient of this award in its inaugural year is Jennifer Martin.
Jen earned a B.S. from ODU in 1997 and a M.S. from the University of Connecticut in 2001. She joined the faculty at Thomas Nelson Community College in 2005, where she continues to work full time as a professor in the Biology Department. At TNCC, she has earned the reputation of being an enthusiastic teacher who expects great things from her students.
Despite her heavy teaching load, Jen's interest in the evolution of fishes drove her decision to return to graduate school. Jen became a Ph.D. student at VIMS in 2008 to work with Dr. Olney on the taxonomy, distribution, and phylogeny of the family Trachipteridae—the dealfishes and their relatives. Jen has worked tirelessly to maintain her full-time teaching position while still making progress on her research. This is all done with her characteristic smile, hearty laugh, and positive attitude.
During the summer of 2009, Jen spent 3 months in residence at many of the major ichthyology collections in Australia and New Zealand, where she examined larval, juvenile, and adult specimens of these rare pelagic fishes from the Indo-Pacific, as a first step in her taxonomic revision of the family. The critical review of the species-level taxonomy of this family is particularly important and timely, as many of these fishes are caught as by-catch in fisheries around the world, and there is much confusion about species identification. The results of this portion of her research will be presented at this summer's Annual Meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.