Have any species named after you?

Jim Childress ’64 has four.

The Hoosier native and marine physiologist has been studying the animals that surround hydrothermal vents since 1979. He has made 65 dives in Alvin and other deep-sea submersibles—expeditions the rest of us just watch on National Geographic specials—collecting and studying the organisms that thrive in those hydrothermal vent communities.

Jim has found and literally dredged up life where many believed there was none. Four of those creatures are named after him. The photo here is†of one of the†most striking, Vampyrocrossota childressi, a new genus and species of the deep sea black medusa that lives almost a mile beneath the ocean’s surface.

We finally caught up with Jim after we read about his being awarded the prestigious Cody Prize (a gold medal plus $10,000 worth of prestigious!) by Scripps Oceanographic Institute for his "outstanding scientific achievement in oceanography, marine biology and Earth science." He’d also recently completed a stint as an advisor (with some onscreen time) for Terminator and Titanic director James Cameron’s IMAX film Aliens of the Deep.

Our writer, Colin Hodgkins, caught up with Jim in early December, just as the scientist who has explored the ocean’s depths was preparing for an adventure in a different direction—a hike into California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

Colin’s article on Jim Childress and his work (along with his photographs of the alien world he’s explored) are scheduled for Wabash Magazine‘s "Against the Odds" issue in May 2006. But I figured you should know about this guy sooner rather than later. You can read more about his work at the University of California at Santa Barbara website.

Photo of Vampyrocrossota childressi by Steven Haddock.