Claire Floyd ’11, an alumna of the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) with a major in zoology and a concentration in ecology, evolution, and animal behavior, drew Melanotrichus boydi, a species named after her professor, Robert Boyd. On a recent trip to Russia, Boyd gave his travel hosts a copy of her drawing as a special thank you.

“I had Dr. Boyd for several semesters in a row my junior and senior years at Auburn University and felt like he played a big part in shaping my attitude and perception towards both biology, and higher education in general for the better,” explained Claire. “I drew the insect as a thank you!”

Boyd’s research focus is on plants that grow in serpentine soils, which are uncommon and challenging environments for plants to survive in. Working with students in California, Boyd and his students were collecting insects found on Milkwort Jewelflower. This “greenie meanie” insect as nicknamed by a COSAM alumnus Michael Wall, was officially named Melanotrichus boydi in 2001 in honor of Boyd for his “…leadership in the study of hyperaccumulator ecology.”

In 2019, Boyd traveled 9,000 miles to Russia as part of the International Serpentine Ecology Society. He gave each of his hosts in Russia a copy of the artwork that Claire drew for him.

“The fact that Dr. Boyd gave my artwork to people on the other side of the world makes me truly proud to be part of the Auburn family,” Claire added. “Finding out that my humble gift to a favorite Auburn professor is being shared nine years later just makes me feel such school spirit!”

Boyd has been recognized for numerous awards during his three-decade career at COSAM including the prestigious Auburn University Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Dr. Boyd was a standout teacher for me,” she shared. “For those who pay attention, his PowerPoints are littered with nerdy Easter eggs, which I always found hilarious and especially appreciated at 8 a.m. in the morning. And even today, I still fuss at people for their plant blindness, a condition I learned about from Dr. Boyd in Plant Ecology class!”