The current research project I’m working on is looking at the impacts of West Virginia Corridor H construction on the streams that it’s crossing. My portion of that is looking at the benthic macroinvertebrates and the fisheries populations. This is a long term project, so I’ve been working on it since I was a PH.D. student. We’re going on 20 years of looking at the project. We monitor five years before they start construction, during construction of each segment and five years post-construction of each segment. We found that during construction there’s an increase in sedimentation and turbidity. We’ve seen an increase in other water quality parameters. I work with people in the engineering department who monitor the water quality. We do see after construction, once they do mitigation efforts, that fisheries and benthic macroinvertebrate populations recover. And we’ve seen a lot of success with the measures DOH has taken during construction. They’ve done sediment fencing and other measures that have really helped the streams from being impacted. We’re continuing to monitor because they’re still constructing segments. But we’re looking at different streams than I was 15 years ago.
If you weren’t working at WVU, what’s the most likely alternative?
I think I would work for the DNR if I weren’t working for WVU. I think I’d still do fisheries research. I’m really interested in different aspects of fish health.
Moment you knew what you wanted to study?
I knew that I wanted to do something in ecology growing up because I lived on the eastern shore of Maryland and I was very much involved with fishing and crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay. That’s really why I went into the wildlife and fisheries field. I had started at the University of Maryland but they closed their wildlife program when I was a freshman and that’s how I ended up at WVU - I got a reciprocating voucher to go to WVU. And then I returned to the University of Maryland on the eastern shore to do my Masters because I was really interested in fisheries resources there.
Moment you knew what your current role was right for you?
I have worked with the co-op units in all the universities that I have been a part of. I think just the mentorship from the professors I’ve had in those co-op units is really what keeps me in the business. I think definitely it was the mentors I’ve had in it that made me feel like WVU was the right place and role for me. They were very involved in my research. They were very involved in mentorship. They were very involved in teaching. I started a family while I was at the co-op unit, and they were very involved with my kids. It’s been a very great group of people to work with.
Favorite part of social distancing?
Zoom meetings and spending more time with my family.
Least favorite part of social distancing?
Limited time spent with my parents because they’re in a different state, and it’s been difficult to travel to see them.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’m really torn between where I live now and living closer to the Chesapeake Bay because I have a lot of vested interest in that area. I definitely think it would be West Virginia or the eastern shore of Maryland. I absolutely loved working on the Chesapeake Bay, but I definitely love living in West Virginia for how rural it is.
Just for Fun
Favorite book: Gifted Hands by Ben Carson
Favorite movie/tv show: The Princess Bride, American Idol
Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: Contemporary Christian, 70s/80’s Rock
Favorite local restaurant: Any place with Halleck on tap
Favorite local activity: Fishing