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The John B. Burch Malacology Fund

John B. Burch

In recognition of Jack Burch’s vast contributions for over half a century to the field of malacology, and to the training of malacologists, the Burch family recently established The John B. Burch Malacology Fund at The University of Michigan.

Interest generated from the Fund will be used to support the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) program in malacology, in particular to support students engaged in research on mollusks. Because Fund expenditures will involve interest only, we anticipate that it will last indefinitely (a number of such UMMZ funds are approaching a century in age). 

Jack's former students, friends, and colleagues are especially encouraged to contribute to the Fund. In particular, we hope that your interactions with Jack inspired you and, if that is the case, please consider supporting the Fund and the long and distinguished UMMZ tradition of training future malacologists. Please submit your gift (no matter how small—it is the thought that counts) directly to the John B. Burch Malacology Fund at the link or mailing address given below. You will promptly be sent a formal receipt for your records.

The John B. Burch Malacology Fund

To mail in your donation, please make check out to “The University of Michigan” and put “The John B. Burch Malacology Fund” in the Memo. Checks can be mailed to the address below:

    Research Museum Center (RMC)
    Attn: UMMZ—John B. Burch Malacology Fund
    3600 Varsity Drive
    Ann Arbor, MI 48108

In addition, we would very much enjoy having a paragraph of your experiences with Jack for the Museum’s archives—something we can quote to students who receive awards in the future. We hope you send in your favorite Jack Burch story to further the association of his name with assistance to malacology students in the Museum of Zoology. It is our pleasure to honor Jack’s dedication to students in this way. Please submit these to Tom Duda, Associate Curator, Museum of Zoology, who will compile them. The ones we’ve received and processed to date are shown below.

Tributes to John B. Burch

 

Tributes to John B. Burch


The following statements were submitted by Jack’s friends and colleagues when they donated to The John B. Burch Malacology Fund. The fund was established by the Burch family in 2020 to recognize Jack’s contributions to malacology and the training of malacologists and supports the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s program in malacology. If you would also like to contribute a paragraph that describes your experiences and interactions with Jack, please send them to Tom Duda and they can be appended to this list.

 

“I have known Jack for nearly half a century. Our paths have crossed in many contexts, both at home and abroad. We “shared” Tim Pearce as a graduate student. Tim’s enthusiasm for land snails included a Master’s degree at Berkeley on evolution of fossil land snails in the California Channel Islands followed by his PhD with Jack on the ecology of living land snails at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Tim’s passion for field work and experience in museum environments led him to a career in museums—he is currently head of the Mollusk Section at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and still wallowing in field work and specimen-based research. For many years Jack and I have shared membership on the board of Malacologia, and family friends both here and abroad – notably a close friendship with the Colman family in Australia. It is in friendship between families that Malacology comes to thrive as a way of life. Jack and Peggy Burch are exemplars of this philosophy. May it be perpetuated in the students who benefit from the John B. Burch Malacology Fund.”

Carole S. Hickman

Professor of the Graduate School University of California

Museum of Paleontology

 

“I was amazed and left momentarily speechless. Jack had opened his lab freezer door to reveal an extraordinary vista: a fabled, largely extinct, Pacific Island land snail radiation in lyophilized form. Half a lifetime earlier, in 1970, Jack had comprehensively collected and preserved endemic partulid tree snail populations on Tahiti and nearby Moorea (Society Islands, French Polynesia). This was shortly before they fell victim to an infamous biological control program: the deliberate introduction of an alien predator, the carnivorous land snail Euglandina rosea. Once I picked my jaw off the floor, I resolved to work with Jack on them and this has led to a whole new line of research over the past 16 years.

Society Island partulids have long been the topic of influential population-level evolutionary studies, starting with H.E. Crampton in 1916. This scientific legacy facilitated the emergency establishment of a dedicated captive breeding program, one of the first such involving invertebrates. Using Jack’s museum specimens, we have found (among many other new insights) that a representative subsample of Moorean and Tahitian phylogenetic diversity still survives among extant captive and remnant wild populations - a rare bit of good news in the otherwise grim topic of Pacific Island land snail conservation.”

Diarmaid Ó Foighil

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Mollusks at the Museum of Zoology

University of Michigan 

 

“Dr. John B. Burch has been committed to guiding and teaching many Korean students during his tenure at Department of Biology, University of Michigan. Since his first Korean student received his Ph.D in 1983, Dr. Burch has shown a keen interest in advancement of the study of malacology in Korea and was instrumental in setting the foundation needed to establish the Korean Society of Malacology. Dr. Burch has always been generous, supportive and dedicated to all of his students. I wish Dr. Burch the best of health and happiness.”

Pyung-Rim Chung, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Inha University College of Medicine

Incheon, South Korea


“I had the pleasure and honor of knowing Jack and Peggy for years. I loved taking his “Mini Course” of “Invertebrates” at the Biological Station.”

Mark Paddock

Former Associate Director and Administrative Manager of the University of Michigan Biological Station

 

“As for my experiences with the Burches as a guest at their home, a friend going back to 1964, a ruthless competitor in racquetball, a companion on local collecting trips for Helix pomatia, and his illustrator for several publications, I am at a loss to pick out the richest story. Jack funded me through my B.A., M.A. and all but dissertation, and I shrink from contemplating what my life would have been like without the security of degrees, and without the memories of his and Peggy's kindnesses to someone to whom they had no obligation. The pair have hearts as big as the State where they now live. I cannot think how many people the Burches have lifted up out of the ordinary into the distinguished. Jack also ran a happy department, by no means a common or easy task. As one looks back across all those years it is easy to forget or pass over how important laughter, ribbing, gentleness and an unspoken expectation for excellence in one's work are to our self-respect and pride in our work.”

John L. Tottenham

 

“I came to Ann Arbor in 1970 having finished an undergraduate degree at Ohio State. David Stansbery introduced me to land snails at Stone Lab and I wanted to study malacology. Dr. Burch took me on; and even took an official course in malacology from him. I remember him helping George Te and I learned to identify shells – for some reason Mesodon thyroidus was a puzzle. I had the office across from Jack and he wandered by often to say hello. One time he picked up some large shells I had brought back from the Smokies and asked if I had been south. I had no idea how he knew. I worked for Jack one summer trying to get the book revised. Unfortunately, that summer I had a severe car wreck and had to move back to Ohio. Jack got to the Ann Arbor hospital long before my parents and then kept me on the grant while I worked from Ohio that summer. I came back to Ann Arbor for my first scientific meeting. Then after I married, we were in Michigan again while my husband finished his degree. Jack gave me space in the museum while we were there. Then when we were off to Wayne's first job in Oklahoma, Jack was the last person to see us off. Back again to Ann Arbor the next year, Jack made us welcome. When we moved to North Carolina, we kept in touch for years and Jack sent me papers and specimens I needed. I was only his “student” for a few years but feel this quiet, encouraging professor became a friend who was interested in what I was doing long afterwards. I still work on land snails and appreciate all the tremendous kindness he showed me.”

Amy Shrader Van Devender

 

“I was the first doctoral student with Jack as a committee chair. The graduate educational experience at the U of M was incredible. There were many resources to support student learning, research and experiences such as attending conferences etc. This John B. Burch Malacology Fund is a great project for the Museum and a reminder that Jack established a worldwide reputation in the field of Malacology.”

Charlotte Patterson-Morgan (Ph.D. 1970)

 

“Dr. Burch gave me the opportunity to travel internationally which lead to my career as a parasitologist. I had been out of the country for about three months from a Jack sponsored trip, when Jack walking with my wife down to the waiting area to greet me, Jack said to her that he thought I should go to Ethiopia for two week in the next ten days. My wife agreed, in spite of the fact we had three young children at home. With Jack’s support I traveled throughout Africa and spent a year in Egypt working on snail-parasite interactions. My first paper was published in Russian in the Russian Zoologicheskii Zhurnal in 1970.  I was able to meet many icons in my field that allowed me to establish lasting personal and professional relationships. Fridays were TGIF at the Pretzel Bell drinking beer, eating wings and talking science.

Peggy was always a gracious hostess that invited my family and me to her home throughout the years.

I will always be grateful for my time in Ann Arbor at the Mollusk Division of the Museum of Zoology.”

Phillip T. LoVerde

Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

 

“We were next door neighbors to Jack and Peggy Burch. Jack Burch would come home from work and if he saw the neighborhood kids out there playing ball he would immediately come out to join them in the game. And the kids loved that. Also, the Burch family had a dog named Fran and they would let the kids come into their fenced-in yard so the kids could play with the dog.”

Camilla and Christopher Slicker

 

“Jack was not only my boss when I worked at the Mollusk Division, but became a good friend. He was in the U.S. Marines before the Korean war and I served in the Marines in Korea during that war 1951/52. Upon my graduation as a Fishery Biologist I was posted with USAID as an advisor to the Cambodian Gov't in 1959 I also served almost twenty years in Thailand, Morocco, New Zealand, Egypt and Venezuela as an advisor in economic development projects. While living in NE Thailand, Jack and Prof. van der Schalie met with me to collect planorbid snails. Jack also showed up in Cairo on a Bilharzia project with Prof. John Bruce. One day while Jack and Prof. van der Schalie were giving me instructions, I shot off to carry them out. The Professor asked Jack,"What's the matter with him?" Jack replied, "It is his Marine training."

Gerry Ginnelly

 

“Meeting Dr. Burch (and operating the slide projector during his talk) in South Korea was one of the main reasons why I came to the University of Michigan and studied malacology. He suggested that I start my Ph.D. study at the UM Biological Station. There he not only taught me the Natural History of Invertebrates but showed the true attitude of a researcher by spending numerous hours collecting snails and clams together. Eating a banana split after checking the 'Man Killing Clam' was an unexpected sweet memory to a starting foreign student. Ever since, I have been fortunate to have received his constant guidance, support and friendship. Dr. Burch often called me as the biggest Korean he has ever seen or someone to reset his watch. However, I am most grateful to him for calling me his favorite student.” 

Taehwan Lee

Associate Research Scientist and Mollusk Collection Manager at the Museum of Zoology

University of Michigan

 

“Although Jack regularly lets me know that his retirement gave me the opportunity to have a Curator position in the Mollusk Division and faculty position within the department, his generous demeanor, confidence, and support always made me as well as my family and members of the Division feel welcomed. He has always been available for lots of serious advice, lighthearted joking, and participation in academic and social events. Several of my students and I have also had the opportunity of participating in fieldwork and research projects with Jack and we learned lots from these experiences. One special recollection is when he and one of my graduate students were collecting aquatic molluscs at Duck Island in the Upper Peninsula and after the student realized that they were lost, Jack replied confidently something along the lines of, “we can’t be lost, we’re on an island!” Jack was proud of his field and research accomplishments as well as his family, friends, and colleagues and often expounded on these themes and individuals during impromptu meetings, sessions of the POETS Society, and Mollusk-Fish coffee hours. Jack’s ever-present “stories” will always have a lasting impact as they reveal so much about who he is. Given what he has accomplished and the lives he has touched, I am very much humbled to have continued in his position.”

Tom Duda

Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Associate Curator of Mollusks at the Museum of Zoology

University of Michigan

 

“I first worked with Jack Burch in 1982, writing a key to the genera of land snails of North American for a book chapter. I became Jack’s PhD student in 1987. In addition to teaching me about mollusks and guiding me through my PhD, Jack was an influential role model to me through his work ethic and through his strong advocacy for international collaboration.  

As editor of the journal Malacological Review, Jack put in extensive hours editing and assembling journal issues. When he learned that I am a good proofreader, I became part of the mad rush to meet deadlines. I was amazed that he put in more all-nighters than I, his student, did. 

Jack recognized how much stronger and richer the field of malacology could be through international collaboration. Throughout his long career, he treated all people with respect, regardless of their race, national origin, or sex. Diversity and inclusion have come to the forefront of our thinking, our conversations, and our actions these days. For me, Jack’s sterling example has been a guiding force for many years. 

Every summer Jack would take me to Bug Camp (University of Michigan Biological Station), where I pursued my PhD project and was his teaching assistant. Those were the happiest summers of my life. UMBS had a small-town atmosphere and was filled with other biologists who worked hard and played hard at this “biology summer camp.” And among the other positive life-changing things I owe to Jack is that I met my wife at Bug Camp. 

Jack was always full of entertaining stories. One of my favorites happened before I met him. He and his family were at Bug Camp, along with a visiting researcher. One day the visiting researcher picked up a snail shell from the shore of the lake and asked Jack’s 3-year old daughter if she knew what it was. Imagine his surprise when instead of saying “snail,” she correctly identified it as Elimia livescens!”

Tim Pearce

Curator of Collections & Head, Section of Mollusks

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

 

“On June 3rd an amazing man left this earth after a long, productive, upstanding life. He was a US Marine, a gifted athlete, a highly esteemed scientist and the leading authority in his field. To me he was just Daddy. A provider, protector, an encourager and teacher. Sometimes a playmate. He was never too busy for me. He attended countless orchestra concerts, violin recitals, ballet recitals, intramural sporting events. He took me on the trip of a lifetime around the world. He put up with pet snakes, mice, rats, guinea pigs, fish, chameleons, lizards, cats, litters of kittens, and a dog (what do you expect from a biologist?) Never once did one of his children enter a room that his face did not light up. We never doubted his love and affection for us. He set a great example for us by the way he went above and beyond for everyone. He and my mom Peggy took all of his students under their wings. He will be missed by many.” 

Judy (Burch) Jaros