Wednesday, July 1, 2009

TTU Biologist Gets Lifetime Achievement Award

Tennessee Tech University biology professor Jim Layzer was recently recognized for his many years of dedication to the field of mollusk conservation when he received the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society Lifetime Achievement Award in Baltimore, Md., at the International Symposium of the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society. Layzer’s research has spanned more than two decades and has been funded by agencies ranging from the U.S. Geological Survey to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, many of the projects being administered by TTU’s Center for the Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources. He and his research team have developed specialized techniques to propagate and culture freshwater mussels, and their work has proven to be monumental.

“It was an unexpected honor to receive this award, especially knowing the individuals who have earned it over the past 10 years,” Layzer said. “I have never considered that I made the same magnitude of contributions to mussel conservation as those individuals did. I owe much of my recognition to the wonderful graduate students and research staff that I have had the pleasure to work with.”

This is not the first time that Layzer’s work has been recognized. Last summer, he was one of 16 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners honored with the 2007 Southeastern Regional Director’s Conservation Awards, given for accomplishments toward fish and wildlife conservation. The USFWS Southeastern Regional Director Sam Hamilton applauded those winners’ efforts “given in service to the natural world.”

Layzer earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts and his doctorate from Oklahoma State University. He leads the Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit at TTU, and his research interests include fish ecology, in-stream flow needs, evolutionary ecology, endangered species and mussel ecology. His current research projects include work in the life histories of endangered mussels and fish, determining in-stream flow needs of fish and mussels, propagation of mussels, and recovery of endangered species.