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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently announced the winners of the 2008 Austin Award and Ripley P. Bullen Award. Both are given annually by the Florida Museum’s university teaching committee to students conducting museum-based research.

The Austin Award is given to recognize excellence in natural science research in honor of long-time Florida Museum ornithologist, Oliver Austin.

This year’s recipient, Christine Edwards, graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 with her Ph.D. in botany and now works as a postdoctoral research associate in botany at the University of Wyoming. Her graduate work focused on related species of mint plants found in the Southeastern United States under primary supervisor Pam Soltis, Florida Museum of Natural History curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics.

“Christy was a superb student,” said Doug Soltis, one of Edwards’ other supervisors and Florida Museum affiliate curator in the molecular lab. “She is very hardworking, energetic and a great member of the lab group here.”

The Bullen Award is given in honor of influential Florida Museum archaeologist Ripley P. Bullen, whose work spanned the 1940s and 1950s. Recipients of the Bullen award are chosen for excellence in research of the anthropology of Florida and the Caribbean Basin.

This year’s recipient, Jane Anne Blakney-Bailey worked with Florida Museum archaeology curator Jerald Milanich while researching Seminole and Creek Indian patterns in the Paynes Town Seminole Settlement. Her doctoral research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources and the Seminole War Foundation.

Blakney-Bailey now works as a station archaeologist at the Toltec Mounds Archaeological Site near Little Rock, Ark., and is a faculty member at the University of Arkansas.

“Dr. Blakney-Bailey’s research for her dissertation at the University of Florida was outstanding,” Milanich said. “It provided a new understanding of the culture of these Native Americans when they were establishing themselves in Florida.”

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Writer: Morgan Lamborn
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,