Announcements Research

December 4, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Kuchta Gets Rakowski Award for Outstanding Research in Biological Sciences

Dr. Shawn Kuchta (left), Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, is awarded the Rakowski Award for outstanding research by the Chair of the Biological Sciences Department, Dr. Bob Colvin (right).

Dr. Shawn Kuchta (left), Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, is awarded the Rakowski Award for outstanding research by the Chair of the Biological Sciences Department, Dr. Bob Colvin (right).

Dr. Shawn Kuchta, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, was awarded the 2018 Robert F. Rakowski award for outstanding research in the Biological Sciences Department at Ohio University.

Kuchta followed the award presentation with an engaging seminar for faculty and students detailing his work on species formation and adaptive divergence in the salamander ring species Ensatina escholtzii. The Ensatina complex is a classic example of the process of speciation because it is a “ring species,” or a species in which two reproductively isolated lineages are connected by a chain of intergrading populations. Ring species are valuable because they illustrate how the factors producing intraspecific variation can create new species.

Rakowski was a former chair of the Biological Sciences Department and established the award to be made yearly to recognize excellence in research by a faculty member, post-doctoral fellow, or graduate student in Biological Sciences as demonstrated by a published article in the past five years that is expected to have significant impact on the field. Kuchta was recognized for receiving the 2016 Best Paper in Copeia by a Young Scholar, Herpetology: Shawn R. Kuchta and David B. Wake. “Wherefore and whither the ring species? Copeia 104:189–201.

Kuchta studies the evolution of organismal biodiversity, including phylogeography and phylogenetics, speciation, adaptation, natural selection, polymorphism, and biodiversity conservation. He largely focus on salamanders, but students in his lab also work on frogs, snakes, lizards, turtles, and even damselflies.

 

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