The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund

Theodore Roosevelt Statue

Since establishment of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund in 1961, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has provided funding for young scientists through Research GrantsPostdoctoral Fellowships and Graduate Student Fellowships, thanks to generous initial gifts and the ongoing support of the Theodore Roosevelt Association and individual donors. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund’s mission is to support research in any phase of wildlife conservation or related fields of North American natural history that are included in the activities of the AMNH. Research can be on the terrestrial or freshwater aquatic fauna of North America, living or fossil, covering all territory north of the Isthmus of Panama including the Caribbean. A standing committee of the AMNH’s Richard Gilder Graduate School (RGGS), including distinguished Curators and representatives of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, recommend the awardees each year from among applicants reviewed and nominated by AMNH academic staff.

The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Research Grants

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Research Grants are meant to provide seed money for research projects, to foster professional development and encourage studies on the North American fauna to which Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, devoted so much of his time and energy. Grants typically range from $1000 to $3500 each, and in 2016, 29 grants were awarded. Since the inception of the program, over 2100 Theodore Roosevelt Research Grants, totaling close to $2 million, have been awarded to doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and other early career scientists from around the world.

Examples of recent research projects supported by Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund grants include: 
   -Movement and Habitat Selection of Prairie Rattlesnakes in Central Idaho 
   -Cranial Variation in Triceratops from the Hell Creek Formation, Montana
   -Colonization and Gene Flow of Coastal Tailed Frogs (Ascaphus truei) at Mount St. Helens
   -Ecdysteroid Natural History and Ecological Function in two North American Gryllus Species
   -Systematics and Conservation of the Southern Cavefish Species Complex 
   -Leeches of Chiapas, Mexico
   -Multiproxy Characterization of the Late Devonian Hangenberg Bioevent in Ohio

AMNH curator Dr. Rob Voss describes the success of this program and cites many of the publications it has produced in his report - The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund at Age 50: A Preliminary Analysis of Grant-supported Publications. (Available here with thanks to Dr. Voss).

AMNH POSTDOCTORAL AND GRADUATE FELLOWS SUPPORTED BY THE THEODORE ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL FUND

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fellowships also may be awarded to AMNH-affiliated postdoctoral fellows and graduate fellows supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Committee upon recommendation of the AMNH Science divisions, RGGS faculty and RGGS Academic Affairs and Fellowships Committee. Details on these programs are available here for Graduate Fellowships and here for Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Recent Theodore Roosevelt Postdoctoral Fellows, American Museum of Natural History

Dr. Edward A. Myers

Ed Myers

Research Interests: Snake evolution, systematics, and taxonomy; comparative population genomics and phylogeography; speciation

Research Focus – My postdoctoral research is focused on understanding variation in rattlesnake venom. Viperids, the family of snakes that includes rattlesnakes (Crotalus and Sistrurus), have venoms that are largely characterized as hemotoxic or hemorrhagic. However, a number of rattlesnake species and populations posses a potent neurotoxin. Despite these species being widespread within North America and being of medical importance, how these venoms have evolved is still unresolved. Recent studies have suggested that neurotoxic venoms are shared between rattlesnake species or populations because of past hybridization events (e.g. Zancolli et al. 2016 and Rokyta et al. 2015). However, other studies have concluded that the ancestor to all rattlesnakes possessed the genes responsible for these neurotoxins, and therefore species that lack this component in their venom have lost these genes at some point during their evolutionary history. My work will focus on addressing these competing hypotheses. In order to do so I will be generating RNA-seq data from venom glands and designing a set of DNA-probes to sequence venom genes across Crotalus. Ultimately this work will address how many times neurotoxin genes have evolved and whether hybridization plays a large role in the distribution of this trait across the rattlesnake phylogeny, which may contribute to our understanding of venom evolution in other snake groups as well as trait evolution in general.

In addition to the rattlesnake work, I will continue to work on population genomics and species delimitation in a number of North American snake taxa. This work seeks to address the mechanisms of speciation, while quantifying biodiversity within the US and Mexico. For example, collaborators and I are generating a genomic data set for the genus Pantherophis (rat snakes and corn snakes) to test species boundaries and to understand color pattern evolution in snakes.

Biography - Edward A. Myers received his B.Sc. in Zoology from Washington State University in 2009 and Ph.D. from the City University of New York in Biology in 2016, under the supervision of Dr. Frank Burbrink. His dissertation focused on comparative population genomics and ecological speciation of codistributed snakes across the desert southwest of North America.

Earlier Theodore Roosevelt Postdoctoral Fellows, American Museum of Natural History

2016-2016       Mar Ferrer Suay

2013-2016       Angelo Soto-Centeno

2010-2012       Lucja Fostowicz-Frelik

2009-2011       Paul Velazco

2007-2009       Eric Waltari

2004-2006       Kurt Pickett

2001-2003       Robert Anderson

2000-2001       Susan L. Perkins

2000-2001       Meredith Mahoney

1990-1992       David Yeates

Recent Theodore Roosevelt Graduate Fellows, Richard Gilder Graduate School

2011 - 2013

Kaori Tsukui
Research Interests: vertebrate paleontology (mammals), paleoecology and geochronology
Primary AdvisorDr. John J. Flynn
Dissertation Title: Chronology and faunal evolution of the Middle Eocene Bridgerian North American Land Mammal Age: Achieving high precision geochronology (Defended April 2015)
Ph.D. Awarded: Columbia University, 2015
Prior Education: University of New Hampshire, BS & MS