After naming around 80 diatom species since he started researching them in 2007, a newly discovered diatom species has been named in honor of Christopher Lobban, a University of Guam professor emeritus of biology.
Diatoms are single-celled algae found in oceans, lakes, and rivers and are considered important primary producers.
Funded by the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR grant, Lobban researches and catalogs diatom species found throughout the coral reefs and mangroves of Micronesia.
According to the study, the new species, Druehlago lobbanii, was named after Lobban in recognition of his extensive and lasting contribution to marine and tropical diatom research. The paper was published in December in the peer-reviewed journal Phycologia.
The new diatom species was discovered in a tidal flat in South Africa by Roksana Majewska, the lead author of the paper. Lobban was informed about the naming of the species just a few days after the start of the new year.
“Usually, species are named after their characteristics. When species are named after people, it’s to honor them for different things such as their contributions to the research or personal importance,” said Lobban. “After naming so many diatom species from Guam’s coral reefs, I guess it was just a matter of time before someone would name a species after me.”
Lobban is the co-author of the genus Druehlago, which he named after his doctoral mentor Louis Druehl in 2016. Druehlago lobbanii and Druehlago craspedostauriformis join Druehlago cuneata as three members of the genus.
According to Lobban, he’s grateful to share this honor with his mentor.
“A few years ago, when I was naming some new genera, I wanted to honor the people who guided my work,” said Lobban. “I thought of Louis Druehl because he got me into diving and helped me get through to my Ph.D.”