The National Shellfisheries Association has announced the establishment of an annual student research grant in honor of "one of its most distinguished past presidents" -- Dr. Melbourne R. Carriker, professor emeritus of marine studies at the University of Delaware.
Through the competitive grant program, student members of the National Shellfisheries Association may apply for a $1,000 award for non-travel related expenses associated with their master's thesis or Ph.D. dissertation research.
An expert in malacology -- a branch of zoology focusing on snails, oysters, clams, and other mollusks -- Carriker received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin. During World War II, he served as an ensign and lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve in the North Pacific.
Prior to his career at the University of Delaware, Carriker was a member of the faculty at Rutgers University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After a year-long stint as fishery research biologist and chief of the Shellfish Mortality Program for the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, he became director of the Systematics' Ecology Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
In 1973, Carriker joined the faculty of the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS) and was based at the Lewes campus. There, he conducted a variety of shellfish research; from identifying the mineral chemistry of the oyster's shell, to exploring the physiology and behavior of the oyster drill, a predatory snail that bores into and feeds on oysters.
By the time Carriker retired from CMS in 1985, not only had he completed numerous research projects in marine malacology, but he also had taught and advised dozens of graduate students, written more than 150 scientific publications, and received professional honors that ranged from an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Beloit College in Wisconsin, to the naming of a copepod and an amoeba after him. Although retired, Carriker has continued to stay active in marine research and education. Currently, among other projects, he is writing about the functional morphology and behavior of the larval and juvenile stages of the hard clam for a book about the species. He also continues to foster the exchange of scientific information, particularly about mariculture, or "fish farming," to Central American and South American nations.
Carriker has deep-rooted interests in both South America and in science. He was born in Santa Marta, Colombia, where his family owned a coffee plantation. At the age of 19, he became a member of a nine-month ornithological expedition to the eastern Andean slopes of Bolivia. The expedition, sponsored by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, was led by Carriker's father.
Carriker and his wife, Meriel, reside in Lewes, Delaware.