Reid Nelson Wins 3 Minute Thesis Competition

3mtwinnerReid Nelson won the Graduate School’s 3 Minute Thesis Competition. He was the Winner and the People’e Choice in the Masters category. The competition requires that the student summarize their thesis research in 3 minutes with 1 slide.  Below is a link to all the information and his presentation.  The competition was held on June 27. Reid is a graduate student in Dr. Rusty Wright’s and Dr. Dennis DeVries’s lab.

Mollie Smith Featured in June’s Issue of Ag Illustrated


Finding Her Calling

Years of Floundering Led Grad Student to Fisheries

Some people are born knowing what they want to be when they grow up. Mollie Smith was not one of them.

She had no clear vision of her future when she enrolled at Auburn University as a freshman in 2000, nor did she four years later, when she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology. But one thing she was dead certain about.


“I did not want to get caught in a job that didn’t mean anything,” she says.

It took a good six years and four unconventional work experiences on two continents for her to figure things out, but the Bridgeport native finally found her calling—and it brought her back to Auburn for a master’s degree that she intends to use fulfilling that Chinese proverb about teaching men to fish so they can feed themselves for a lifetime.

Smith, who began her master’s work in fisheries and allied aquaculture at Auburn summer semester 2011, chalks her unlikely choice of careers up to pure serendipity.

“When I finished college and had no real direction, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to flounder for a while and just pay attention to my heart,” she says. “And everything I did finally came together to put me where I am.”

Her days of wandering had included two year-long stints teaching English in China, which showed her she wanted to work internationally; a semester studying international development at the University of Pittsburgh, which was frustrating, she says, because “it was more about managing poverty than it was about doing something about it”; and a couple of stretches working in missions and then with a community development agency in the inner cities of Chicago and Pittsburgh, experiences that exposed her to a world drastically different from the rural northeast Alabama community she called home.

“All those experiences opened my eyes to the huge needs that exist everywhere, here and around the world, and to the impending food and water crises that our world is facing,” she says. “Fisheries has allowed me to become part of the conversation on poverty and world hunger around the world.”

She hasn’t simply sat on the sidelines in that conversation, either. As an Auburn fisheries grad student, Smith, a potter by hobby, spent two weeks in Nicaragua on a water-purifying mission with the group Potters for Peace; accompanied Karen Veverica, director of Auburn’s E.W. Shell Fisheries Center and a veteran in the field of international aquaculture development, on a four-week visit to fish farmers in Ghana and Uganda; spent another two months in Ghana to help manage Auburn University feed trials supported by the soybean industry; and worked in Liberia for several weeks, assisting Auburn fisheries associate professor Ron Phelps in training fish farmers there in hatchery operations.

And though she completed her master’s degree in May, she remains at Auburn as a temporary employee to continue working in Ghana and Liberia in support of Phelps’ and Veverica’s projects in those countries. She expects to make as many as four trips to Liberia in the coming year to oversee the management of the local hatchery. The aim there, she says, is to demonstrate to locals fish farming’s income potential and help those interested overcome barriers to success.

“In aquaculture, we talk about ‘carrying capacity,’ in that there’s a finite amount of oxygen in a pond and if you overstock the pond and don’t use aeration, the oxygen won’t support the fish population,” she says. “Our environment has its own carrying capacity, and the way society functions now, it won’t be able to sustain the 9 billion people expected to populate the earth by 2050.

“I think that there’s so much to be done, and that even a little change can have an impact,” Smith says. “In my years of searching, I wanted to do something to help make a difference. Fisheries is so right for me.”

Andrew McElwain selected as the runner-up for the best presentation award by the United States Aquaculture Society at Aquaculture 2013

Andrew McElwain was the runner-up for the best presentation award by the United States Aquaculture Society at Aquaculture 2013 (Nashville, Tennessee, 21-25 February) for a presentation based on some of my dissertation results. The presentation was titled, cheap generic cialis “Cellular anatomy of the digestive tract of Alabama rainbow Villosa nebulosa towards an understanding of trophic bottlenecks to culture and stock enhancement of freshwater mussels,” and the paper includes Dr. Paul Johnson and Dr. Ash Bullard as coauthors. Aquaculture 2013 was the Triennial Meeting of the National Shellfisheries Association, American Fisheries Society Fish Culture Section, and World Aquaculture Society, and I was therefore competing with a large pool of students. The World Aquaculture Society will also announce the award in a forthcoming issue of the “World Aquaculture” magazine.

Auburn’s Bass Sports Club honored for contributions to university – AUBURN – Auburn University President and Mrs. Jay Gogue recently honored the university’s Bass Sports Club at the President’s Home in recognition of the club’s contributions to the Auburn University Foundation.

Since January 2009 the club has presented $44,500 to Auburn from funds garnered in the National Guard FLW College Fishing Series. Teams that finish in the top five of each event are awarded funds which are distributed to the foundation for general scholarships and to the club for expenses.

“We are very proud of the club members and their dedication to being student-athletes who represent Auburn so well,” President Gogue said. “The club is among the top organizations at Auburn that truly give back to the university and the community.”

Auburn University President and Mrs. Jay Gogue recently honored the university’s Bass Sports Club in recognition of the club’s contributions to the Auburn University Foundation. Pictured are (front row, left to right) Jordan Lee, Shaye Baker, Eugene Buckley, Auburn President and Mrs. Jay Gogue, Sam Rochell, Kevin Tignor, J.T. Murphy, Paul Davis, associate advisor Darrel High; (second row, left to right) advisor Jann Swaim, Clay Messer, Richard Peek, Nick Palerino, Caleb Rodgers, Chris Seals, Jake McNeal; (back row, left to right) Jonathan Adams, Kiron Browning, James Clayton, Robert Melvin, Heather Bell, Shane Powell, Andrew Wendt, Dennis Parker and Daniel Holland.

The club, founded in 2007, participates in collegiate fishing tournaments across the Southeast in events sponsored by organizations such as FLW Outdoors and BASS.

FLW Outdoors Magazine editors in January named Auburn the number two club in the nation based on a survey of all anglers who competed in the 2009 National Guard FLW College Fishing Series. The survey looked at each club and school; fishing lifestyles; tournament opportunities; club activities; and other factors.

“We are very grateful to the tournament sponsors and to Auburn for providing the opportunity to participate in these events,” said Jann Swaim, club advisor. “The tournaments provide great experiences for our students and at the same time generate funds for Auburn. We don’t focus on winning prize money, though. Our goals are to represent Auburn to the highest standard and to have pride in being a part of Auburn.”

The club, which has 30 members, sends three, two-person teams to tournaments. The duo of Shaye Baker and Dennis Parker recently won third place in the inaugural National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship, while the team of Caleb Rogers and Richard Peek took sixth place. Also earning high-ranked finishes this past year were Sam Rochelle, J.T. Murphy and Jordan Lee.

Dedication to the community and sport fishing can be seen in the club’s efforts beyond the national tournaments. The club also has hosted local Boy Scouts to help them earn merit badges in fishing.

“We are very active as a club, but are very strict and tell them they must keep their grades up and they can only fish on weekends prior to a tournament,” Swaim said. “They are very upstanding young men and women who make us very proud.”

Swaim says membership is open to Auburn students of any major. More information is available at

Students harvest, learn about catfish

By: Donathan Prater – OA News

Loachapoka Elementary School students took an unconventional fishing trip Friday—without even leaving campus.

As part of an Aquaculture Project sponsored by PACERS, a group that helps bring academic and cultural programs to rural schools, sixth grade students at the school harvested a catfish pond on campus Friday.

Using a seine net that stretched across the small pond, students harvested more than 100 catfish that were weighed and measured with the data being recorded, according to Loachapoka High School Science instructor Rick Pavek.

After recording data about the catfishes’ diet and their ideal habitat, the catch was cleaned, fried and eaten.

Aside from breading and seasoning, there are a lot of scientific lessons Pavek said.

“From monitoring the oxygen levels in a catfish pond to their spawning habits, the lessons to be learned about these creatures is limitless,” said Pavek.

Loachapoka Elementary School Principal Mary Ross agreed.

“It’s one thing to teach students science but another to teach them how to become scientists,” said Ross.

The catfish harvested by the students at LES were donated by the Auburn University Department of Fisheries, according to Pavek.

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