MARQUETTE – Becca Fitch and Grace Krajenka, both alumni of NMU, have achieved noteworthy accomplishments in their research projects, which have been published in peer-reviewed international scientific journals. The students worked in the Cumberlidge Crustacean Systematics Laboratory and Museum in NMU’s Biology Department under the guidance of Professor Neil Cumberlidge for over two years.

Fitch, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in May 2022, conducted research on the description of a new species of freshwater crab from Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. Her findings have been published in the latest issue of the journal Zootaxa (volume 5278, pages 119–130). The publication includes a checklist of species found in Cote d’Ivoire and an identification key to the species. Fitch’s contribution to the research involved digital imaging of crabs and preparing the photos for publication. She expressed her appreciation for Dr. Cumberlidge’s mentorship and the unique opportunities she had to expand her knowledge and skills. Fitch’s article, titled “A checklist and key to the Ivorian freshwater crabs, with the description of a new species of Liberonautes Bott, 1955 (Brachyura: Potamoidea: Potamonautidae),” is coauthored by Cumberlidge and Paul F. Clark of the Natural History Museum in London.

Krajenka, who completed her bachelor’s degree in May 2023, also collaborated with Cumberlidge on a publication titled “Description of two new species of Central African freshwater crabs from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda (Brachyura: Potamoidea: Potamonautidae).” Their research is featured in the journal Zootaxa (volume 5293, pages 379–391). Krajenka’s role involved working with the Keyence 5000 digital microscope to capture images of the species and using Photoshop to enhance them for publication. She expressed gratitude for the experience and highlighted the valuable opportunities she had during her time at NMU, including research at the Smithsonian Museum. Krajenka mentioned that these experiences are already benefiting her as she prepares to start a new job at the Cranbrook Museum in July.

Both Fitch and Krajenka acknowledged the significant influence of Professor Cumberlidge, an internationally recognized expert in freshwater crabs, in their research journeys. Cumberlidge was recently honored with The Crustacean Society Excellence in Research Award (TCSERA) for his significant contributions to the field of crab biology.