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Musick honored for lifetime opus

Jack Musick. Courtesy of VIMS.Jack Musick, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, has been awarded the Commonwealth's Lifetime Achievement in Science award for his work on the ecology and conservation of marine fishes and sea turtles. The award was announced by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and Science Museum of Virginia Director Richard Conti.

Musick, Emeritus and former Marshall Acuff Professor of Marine Science at VIMS, has earned an international reputation during a 40-year career in which he has authored or co-authored 150 research articles and advised 89 graduate students, the latter likely a record for marine science graduate education in the U.S. His annual field trip to study Virginia's freshwater fishes-the Roanoke Round-up-has become a favorite tradition of VIMS graduate students.

Musick has also written or edited 12 books. Three of these-Biology of Sharks and Their Relatives, The Biology of Sea Turtles, and Fishes of Chesapeake Bay-are considered classics in their field.

"Jack's achievements are the envy of his peers," says VIMS Dean and Director John Wells. "His research underlies conservation and management efforts for sharks and sea turtles worldwide, and his accomplishments in education are extraordinary. By personal example and direct training he teaches graduate students how to do science of the highest caliber. Jack is a scholar who produces scholars."

Musick's graduate students include John McEachran (PhD '73), now Professor of Ichthyology at Texas A&M Univ.; Kenneth Able (PhD '74), Distinguished Professor of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers Univ.; Molly Lutcavage (MS '81) Director of the Large Pelagics Research Center at the Univ. of New Hampshire; Roy Crabtree (PhD '84) Head of the National Marine Fisheries Service's Southeast Region; Robert Middleton (PhD '89), Director of the White House Task Force on Energy Project Streamlining; and Louis Daniel (PhD '95), Director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

Musick arrived at VIMS in 1969 after earning a PhD in Biology from Harvard. In 1973, he established a program to monitor shark populations in the mid-Atlantic. The VIMS shark-monitoring program is now the longest-running fishery-independent study of shark populations in the world. His shark research has brought global attention to significant declines in shark populations due to overfishing, and led to the first U.S. management plan for sharks, in 1993. Musick also helped establish VIMS as one of four members of the National Shark Research Consortium.

As a founding member and past president of the International Sea Turtle Society, Musick has been instrumental in efforts to conserve the world's seven sea turtle species, all of which are either threatened or endangered. His sea turtle research, which pioneered the use of satellite tracking to establish migration patterns and wintering areas, shows that Chesapeake Bay is one of the most important nursery areas for Loggerhead and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles.

Musick's studies of coastal fish have contributed to management plans for summer flounder, Atlantic sturgeon, and black sea bass. He also established a fish collection at VIMS that now features the world's largest assemblage of Chesapeake Bay and mid-Atlantic fish, with 128,000 specimens in 247 families.

In announcing the awards, Governor Kaine said "These select people are at the top of their fields. This year's Outstanding Scientists and Industrialists have expertise in cancer research, marine science, atmospheric and planetary sciences, pharmaceutical company investments and real estate transaction services. Their creativity, contributions and dedication make life better for us all."

An on-line version of this story with additional background and interactive links is available on the VIMS Web site at
http://www.vims.edu/newsandevents/topstories/index.php.