Dr. Zachary Loughman and 11 College of Science students attended the 22nd International Association of Astacology (IAA) meeting in Pittsburgh recently and came home winners.

“This was the first international meeting I have taken students to, and I have to say, they were nothing but wonderful and represented us well! Every single grad student in attendance was offered the opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree with at least one of the PI’s there. Several students were encouraged to apply for agency and conservation organizations. Astacologists came up to me and joked that the WLU students knew just as much, if not more about astacology than they did,” said Loughman.

The meeting took place July 9 – 13 at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and included the Symposium on Freshwater Crayfish.

Every student presented at least a poster or an oral presentation. Two won big awards for their posters:

  • Emmy Delekta, 21, of New Cumberland, W.Va., an ecology, evolution, and organismal biology major;
  • Daniel Meyer, 24, of Glen Dale, W.Va., a graduate student pursuing his Master of Science in Biology degree.

Only six student posters were selected out of 40 submitted for awards, making the students’ win even more rewarding.

The IAA also presents two awards to professional astacologists at each conference, the Distinguished Astacologist Award, and the Noble Crayfish Outreach Award.

Out of 10 professors nominated, Dr. Loughman was picked for the Noble Crayfish Outreach Award.

“The absolute best thing about this award is that it is student driven. Young scientists in the astacological community nominate a professional who has been encouraging and helpful and served as a mentor for them. In addition to teaching, the award honors an astacologist that serves as an advocate for crayfish via public outreach, teaching crayfish oriented classes,” he explained. “I am proud to have received it.”

The previous IAA meeting and symposium was held in Japan and next year’s gathering is planned for the Czech Republic.

Originally from Maureen Zambito for West Liberty University News & Media Relations