North Auburn Fisheries facilities renamed for long-time leader

AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn University Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture’s 1,600-acre North Auburn Upper Fisheries Research Station has been renamed the E.W. Shell Fisheries Center in honor of a long-time department head who was highly instrumental in building AU fisheries into a world-class program.

The center was formally dedicated during ceremonies held on-site earlier this month.

  A Butler County native, Shell earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fisheries from AU in 1952 and 1954, respectively. After graduating with a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1959, Shell joined the Auburn faculty as an assistant fisheries professor and began to work closely with Homer S. Swingle, then head of the university’s young fisheries program, to move the department to a level of international recognition.

When Shell took the reins as department head from Swingle in 1973, he recognized that field facilities with specialized laboratories and ponds would be needed to support a top-notch program. During the 21 years of his administration, Shell secured funding for and built most of the labs and facilities at the North Auburn Fisheries campus, including:

  • A fish hatchery and field classroom in 1977;
  • Fish nutrition and fish processing labs in 1978;
  • A fish market building for consumer research and teaching in 1985;
  • A fish disease laboratory and a building to house faculty and students in fisheries management and ecology in 1989;
  • A fish genetics lab, office building and greenhouse complex between 1990 and 1991;
  • 70 new ponds ranging in size from 0.05 acre to 10 acres and 13 rebuilt or renovated ponds between 1973 and 1994.

Expansion of the North Auburn campus allowed the department to serve its burgeoning graduate education program, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg, current department head David Rouse says.

In addition to being a hands-on teaching lab for our graduate and undergraduate students, these facilities are used as a research arena by faculty and students; as a teaching site for fish farmers, recreational pond owners, processors, marketers and citizen groups interested in protecting the environment; and as an educational component for public school students and scout and service groups throughout the region,” Rouse says.

The E.W. Shell Fisheries Center is the premier facility of its kind in the world. At least 13 U.S. universities and government agencies have patterned facilities after it, and similar facilities can also be found in more than foreign 31 countries.

Shell retired from AU in 1994. He and his wife, Jean, live in Auburn.
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