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Professor receives highest honor within the field of amphibian studies

Professor receives highest honor within the field of amphibian studies

November 29, 2023 at 2:50pm

The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) has honored biologist Maureen Donnelly with the Henry S. Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology.

The award recognizes long-term excellence in the study of amphibian and reptile biology, based principally on the quality of research as well as educational and service impacts of the awardee’s career. Donnelly was nominated by her students for her contributions in research, teaching, mentoring and service that span more than five decades. 

“My graduate students are the very best accomplishments in my career,” Donnelly said. “All of them are glorious and make me proud each and every day.”

Donnelly's research focuses on the ecology, behavior and conservation of tropical amphibians and reptiles, among them frogs, salamanders, lizards and snakes. Donnelly's early research was on the use of space in the early development of tadpoles. She has examined the loss of amphibians and reptiles, and her work has identified widespread declines in species and habitats.

“Dr. Donnelly’s commitment to her field is what sets our faculty apart,” said Mike Heithaus, executive dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. “Our students aren’t just learning from the best. They are being mentored by the best. The impact of her efforts and those of her students are having lasting impacts for amphibian and reptile conservation.”

Throughout her career, Donnelly has published more than 130 books and peer-reviewed research articles, including 12 contributions to Ichthyology &cHerpetology, a quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal. In 2016, she served as president of ASIH. She is only the 25th person to win the Henry S. Fitch Award.

“It is an honor to be one of the four women who have been recognized for their achievement and an honor to be will all the scientists who have been recognized since the award was established,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly received her BA from California State University, Fullerton, and her Ph.D. from the University of Miami. Prior to joining FIU in 1994, she held postdoctoral positions at the American Museum of Natural History and UM.