Research Led by Scripps Students Recognized with National, International Honors


One groundbreaking science paper focused on a revised classification of fishes and a separate paper describing changes in sand levels along the coast-each led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego graduate students-have been honored with national and international distinctions. Each will be recognized at upcoming scientific conferences.

Matt Craig, who graduated from Scripps in 2005, was selected as the author of the best paper published in the journals Ichthyological Research and Japanese Journal of Ichthyology in 2007. His student dissertation paper, "A molecular phylogeny of the groupers (Serranidae) with a reclassification of the Epinephelinae," was coauthored by Phil Hastings, his advisor.

Using genetic and other investigative methods, Craig and Hastings examined the evolutionary relationships of groupers in the fish tribe Epinephelini. Groupers include more than 100 species and are typically found on coral reefs throughout the world, where many are heavily fished. Their results called into question current taxonomical demarcations, resulting in a revised classification that more accurately reflects grouper relationships. The study also provided new details about the processes that underlie the formation of new species.

Craig will be officially presented the award September 20-23 at the Ichthyological Society of Japan's annual meeting in Matsuyama, Japan. Craig is currently an assistant researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Marissa Yates has been selected to receive the 2008 American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) Educational Award. The honor is bestowed annually to a graduate or undergraduate student "who, through his or her research, is furthering the state of science of coastal or riverine systems as it relates to the goals and mission of the ASBPA."

Yates' paper, "Overview of Seasonal Sand Level Changes on Southern California Beaches," coauthored by Bob Guza (her advisor), Bill O'Reilly, and Richard Seymour, probes the mechanisms controlling beach change.

Through LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology measurements, along with data from GPS-equipped Jet Skis and all-terrain vehicles, Yates and her coauthors describe pronounced fluctuations in the seasonal cycles along the Southern California shoreline. The paper outlines a model of beach and wave conditions that may enable predictions for future shoreline changes.

She will be honored October 16 during ASBPA's national coastal conference in Chicago.

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