Daniel Meyers wins Couch Award in Biology

Daniel Meyers wins Couch Award in Biology

By: Carol Ann McCormick, Curator, UNC-Chapel Hill Herbarium

Daniel Meyers is the 2021 winner of the Couch Award, which is given to a senior biology major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC at CH) who has interests in plant biology and has demonstrated the highest ideals of scholarship and research. He will be graduating in May 2021 with a B.S. in biology and minors in chemistry and entrepreneurship.

It was wonderful to recognize a biology student working on fungi with the Couch Award this year,” said Dr. Mark Peifer who served on the Awards Committee. 

Dan Meyers has been a fixture in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium since his first year at Carolina. In the autumn of 2017, he volunteered with Herbarium associate Dr. Van Cotter to locate, label, and index type specimens in the Herbarium’s extensive fungal collections. In January 2018, he joined the Herbarium as the Mary McKee Felton Intern, and continued to document our fungal type collections. That work culminated in “Inventory of fungal and other type collections held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fungal and lichen herbaria (NCU),” co-authored with Cotter and currently under review. “This manuscript is truly a magnum opus,” says Herbarium curator Carol Ann McCormick. “Cotter and Meyers’ manuscript is 116 pages long and details nearly 1000 type specimens, plus another 200 which are new to science but as yet unnamed. Meyers and others in the Fungal Group in the Herbarium have been documenting the fungi found on North Carolina Botanical Garden lands, depositing selected collections in the Herbarium for future mycologists to study.”

Meyers has co-authored two posters at Mid-Atlantic States Mycology Conferences (MASMC) and was a co-organizer of MASMC 2021 held virtually through UNC at CH.

John Nathaniel Couch in his mycological laboratory.

John Nathaniel Couch (1896-1986) was the second student to earn a doctorate in botany at UNC at CH where he studied fungi for his entire academic career. 

Meyers has taken an interest in Couch’s Septobasidium in editus species and found Couch’s notes in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC at CH, including some nearly complete descriptions of potentially novel Septobasidium species. He is attempting to obtain ITS sequences from ca. 80-year-old specimens toward publishing Couch’s in editus species.