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 Alison Deary.
Alison earned a B.S. from the College of Charleston in 2009 with a major in Marine Biology. During her undergraduate studies she completed a NOAA Hollings Internship at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. She then moved to the California Academy of Sciences, where she identified sponges to better define essential fish habitat for North Pacific groundfishes. Alison also completed a semester with the Sea Education Association, collecting data from the Central Equatorial Pacific for what became her Senior Thesis, which characterized tuna habitat in this understudied region of the Pacific.
Alison joined the VIMS community as graduate student in 2009, first taking a summer job as a field assistant for the VIMS juvenile seine survey to gain direct experience with VIMS and the fish fauna of Chesapeake Bay. She also began to regularly volunteer for an ongoing project on the ecology of the Bay’s larval fishes. It was during these experiences that she first asked the questions she is now addressing in her graduate research.
For her Ph.D. dissertation, Alison will study the development of the feeding and sensory systems of the Drums, a commercially and recreationally important family of fishes here in Chesapeake Bay. Her project—which synthesizes many different aspects of fish development, physiology, anatomy, ecology, and evolution—promises to make significant scientific advances at both basic and applied levels. She will present early results from her research at this summer’s Annual Meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.