UW News

October 1, 2009

New “walking” fish named for UW donor Maggie Walker

A newly discovered species of fish will soon be named in honor of Margaret “Maggie” Walker, a distinguished UW alumna who has helped raise millions of dollars for the College of Arts and Sciences and has served on the boards of many University and community organizations.

Now, in her honor, the process of naming the “Maggie Walker fish” has begun.

Naming a new species is no small task. Curator of fishes Ted Pietsch and Rachel Arnold, graduate student in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences — and the fish’s discoverer — are leading the naming process.

Pietsch said once a new species of fish is discovered, a specialist has to describe and illustrate the specimen, prepare a manuscript and then submit it for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The species cannot be officially declared new until the description is accepted for publication.

Walker’s accomplishments are deserving of the process. She has been a donor and volunteer for more than 20 years and is a board member of the UW Foundation. For over a decade, Walker led fundraising for the UW College of Arts and Sciences at the UW, helping to raise over $280 million. She also has been active elsewhere in the community, serving on the boards of the Washington Women’s Foundation, the Seattle Foundation, the Seattle Art Museum, the Bullitt Foundation, the Museum of History and Industry and the Washington Board of Stewards for the National Audubon Society, among others.

The species belongs to the genus Histiophryne, and morphological and molecular evidence from the UW supports the claim that it is indeed new to science. And appropriately for this naming circumstance, the species of fish in mind is known to actually “walk” rather than swim along the bottom of the tank.

The Maggie Walker fish will join the Burke Museum’s collection of more than 7 million fish specimens.

“The Burke Museum is proud to have one of our Burke fish named after such an inspirational community philanthropist as Maggie Walker, who shares our commitment to environmental and cultural vitality,” said Julie Stein, director of the Burke Museum.

For more information on the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, visit online here.