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  Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Dean E. Metter Award Winners for 2010

(1) Matthew Niemiller
Matthew Niemiller is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. His major professor is Ben Fitzpatrick and his dissertation research deals with the maintenance of distinct cave and surface forms in the plethodontid salamander genus, Gyrinophilus.

(2) Jeanine Refsnider
Michael Reichert is a Ph.D. student in Carl Gerhardt's laboratory at the University of Missouri--Columbia. His research deals with acoustic communication in Hyla versicolor and his proposal requested funds to support his investigations into the role of visual cues in the production of courtship calls.
*Michael Reichert is the first student from the University of Missouri--Columbia to win a Dean E. Metter Memorial Award. Dean Metter was a faculty member of the Department of Zoology and then the Division of Biological Sciences at that institution for approximately 30 years.

Dean E. Metter Award Winners for 2009

(1) Benjamin Jellen
Benjamin's proposal is entitled "Pre-and Post-Copulatory Determinants of Reproductive Success in Missouri Northern Waternsnakes (Nerodia sipedon)." His research will attempt to show how these snakes communicate using pheromones and how this relates to male and female reproductive success. Benjamin is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at St. Louis University and is working with Robert Aldridge

(2) Jeanine Refsnider
Jeanine's proposal ("Can Maternal Nest-site Choice Compensate for the Effects of Global Climate Change on Reptiles with Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination? A Common Garden Experiment using a Model Species") deals with painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) and is designed to determine whether local adaptations to nest site choice are more genetically or environmentally driven. Jeanine is working in Fred Janzen's laboratory in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University.


Dean E. (Doc) Metter (1932-2001) was a long-time member of the biology faculty at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he taught zoology, comparative anatomy, evolution, and herpetology. A believer in putting knowledge to the test in the field, Doc provided frequent opportunities for students to engage in fieldwork. In addition, he frequently assisted his graduate students as they ventured out to collect data. Doc was a co-founder of the Bobby Witcher Society, the legacy of which is a scholarship fund. For many years, the interest earned served to reward outstanding herpetology students who intended to continue their education and seek a career in vertebrate biology. That fund now serves a similar purpose by honoring Doc's memory while helping to fund the SSAR-administered Dean E. Metter Memorial Award.

Dean E. Metter Memorial Award

The purpose of the Award is: (1) to honor the memory of Dean E. Metter; (2) to encourage students to pursue field research in herpetology; and (3) to facilitate field research in herpetology by providing funds for relevant expenses.

Grants made from the award will be no less than $300 and no more than $1,000. Efforts will be made to fund as many eligible proposals as possible.

Applicants must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student in an accredited college or university and be conducting field-based research in herpetology. This research may occur anywhere in the world, but priority will be given to research conducted in the state of Missouri.

Expenses eligible for funding include: (1) travel expenses (e.g., mileage, airfare) associated with the field research project; and (2) equipment for field-based research (e.g., materials for drift fences, traps, etc.). Funds may not be used for salaries or any other personnel expenses, travel to meetings, equipment or supplies for laboratory-based research (even if applicable to the project), or overhead or indirect costs.

The following criteria will be used to make awards:
A. Scientific merit of the proposed project.
B. Nature of the proposed project; priority will be given, in order, to proposals that fall into the following categories:

  • Natural history studies (e.g., habitat utilization, life tables, demography, reproductive strategies, behavior).
  • Functional morphology (i.e., relationships between structure and function, particularly as these relate to natural history parameters).
  • Biogeographic studies, including elucidation of biodiversity in a given area (e.g., regional or national biotic surveys), efforts to determine historical events leading to current distribution patterns, and effects resulting from introductions of alien species.
  • Evolutionary studies (establishing phylogenies based on morphological or genetic criteria).
  • Other.
C. Relevance of the field component to the overall execution of the proposed project.

In keeping with the Society's goal of encouraging participation by the broadest possible community, preference may be given to individuals who might not have access to other funding sources. All applicants must be members of the SSAR. Past recipients of an SSAR GIH award in any category are not eligible for this award. Each proposal must include the following:
(A) TITLE PAGE giving the title of the project, the name, mailing address, office and home telephone numbers and, if possible, fax number and e-mail address of the applicant. The title page should include a statement indicating that applicants "will comply with all applicable permit regulations, and adhere to all appropriate animal care guidelines in the course of conducting funded projects."
(B) BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES of the proposed project.
(C) METHODS for carrying out the project.
(D) COMPLETE PROJECT BUDGET (indicating for which expenses support is being solicited), including a listing of all current and pending support for the project.
(E) BRIEF RESUMÉ of the applicant.
(F) LETTER OF SUPPORT from the research advisor, which also will serve to confirm enrollment at an accredited institution. The proposal must be typed, double spaced, and must not exceed 1,200 words, excluding title page, literature cited, CV (resumé), and budget. Proposals should be submitted electronically as email attachments. Submit proposals or questions regarding application procedures to the Chair of the Metter Award Committee, Dr. Joseph J. Beatty.

All proposals must be submitted no later than 30 March to be considered; SSAR dues must be paid by the preceding 31 December. Failure to meet these guidelines may result in elimination of a proposal from consideration. Awards will be announced on or around 15 April. Successful applicants are encouraged to submit the results of their research for publication in the Journal of Herpetology or Herpetological Review, or to present their findings at the annual meeting of the SSAR.