I was notified this morning by Dr. Tracy Heath, Awards Director of the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), that I am awarded a Mini-ARTS grant ($1000). This award will allow me to travel to the Natural History Museum (NHM), UK to examine, digitize and document type specimens of species of the "Exophthalmus genus complex" (EGC). These are broad-nosed weevils (Curculionidae: Entiminae) from primarily Central America and the West Indies. The museum visit is needed for my project on the reclassification of the EGC. My collaborator and mentor at NHM is Dr. Chris Lyal, who is a world-renowned weevil taxonomist and co-authored the catalogue of genus and family group names of Curculionoidea.
According to the description on SSB's website, "the Mini-ARTS grants are for revisionary taxonomy and systematics, modeled after the NSF Dear Colleague Letter: Advancing Revisionary Taxonomy and Systematics (ARTS) recently developed within the Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster." Their intended use is to allow SSB members to "spend a summer or semester apprenticed to an expert in a particular taxonomic group or to enhance revisionary taxonomic and systematics research in novel ways."
I am very excited about this award and much thankful to SSB for setting funds to make this award. The Mini-ARTS grant is a positive signal from an important society, the SSB, that revisionary taxonomy and fundamental classification work are still very much needed in the postgenomics era. Among comparative biologists, there is little doubt that phylogenetic trees are indispensable powerful popular instruments for comparative biological investigations and it is also undeniable that computational phylogenetic research has risen to prominence within SSB. However, we are repeatedly realizing and re-realizing that species identities and the expression and communication of phylogenetic relationships in the form of a classification will continue to be a central theme of the systematic biology of all organisms.
My award proposal is available for viewing and downloading
Writings related to insects, biodiversity and science in general