Friday, March 01, 2013
Dr. Bradley Deline, an Assistant Professor of Geosciences at the University of West Georgia, was recently granted a $25,000 Research Opportunity Award from the National Science Foundation to participate in the Assembling the Echinoderm Tree of Life Project. This is Deline’s third year receiving this grant, which hasallowed him to travel to natural history museums across the country with UWG student research assistants in order to collect data.
“Echinoderms, such as sea stars, sea urchins and their relatives, are some of our closest relatives within the invertebrates,” said Deline. “They represent a significant component of modern and fossil ecosystems and have unique characteristics including amazing regenerative properties. The goal of this collaborative project, which includes biologists and geologists from 15 institutions, is to better understand the relationships between echinoderms and gain insight into the evolutionary processes that occurred throughout their history."
Deline’s role in the project is to explore how body forms evolved during the initial diversification of echinoderms 500 million years ago. He is exploring evolutionary relationships within crinoids, or sea lilies, with colleagues from Ohio State, West Virginia and the University of Tennessee.
“Dr. Deline’s research and travel with undergraduate students allows the students to gain practical experience beyond the classroom,” said Dr. Curtis Hollabaugh, Professor and Chair of UWG’s Geosciences Department. “The research is a significant contribution to understanding the history of life during the last 500 million years.”
Deline and his students presented preliminary results of their research at the National Meeting of the Geological Society of America last fall in Charlotte, N.C., and will present additional findings at the meeting of the Southeastern Section of GSA this spring in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Photo: Dr. Deline works in the field