The John M. & Marilyn Zeigler Student Achievement Award honors the past contributions to student needs of Dr. John Zeigler, the first SMS Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and the continuing contributions of Mrs. Marilyn Zeigler. The Zeigler award formally recognizes students who excel in scholarship, leadership, research initiative, outstanding publications, and exceptional thesis or dissertation work.
This year’s award recipient is Dr. Gina Ralph.
Gina is one of the most productive individuals to ever graduate from the School of Marine Science. Gina conducted research that was innovative—revising the nursery habitat paradigm for the blue crab; quantitative—using field experiments and modeling; and practical—in that her findings are being applied to blue-crab management. Most importantly, her findings fundamentally alter our understanding of nursery habitats for the blue crab, and demonstrate quantitatively that blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay require healthy seagrass nurseries to promote recovery of the population and fishery. Gina was first-author on 2 publications and 2 manuscripts, and junior author on 5 more. She also established herself as an excellent teacher in class lectures and seminars, and as an instructor at Christopher Newport University and at William & Mary. In addition, Gina became a local mentor in R and GIS. In advisory activities, Gina was a member of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management team and the recent Blue Crab Stock Assessment. She subsequently received a postdoctoral position at Old Dominion University coordinating the IUCN Global Marine Species Assessment. Thus, she is highly deserving of the Zeigler Award, and will serve as an excellent ambassador for the institute.