I grew up in north-central Iowa in a small farming community. Besides the usual farm kid stuff, I spent a lot of my free time at a nearby creek turning rocks to see what critters were underneath, fishing, and exploring whatever the outdoors offered. Those experiences inspired a need for more knowledge about aquatic systems and formed the foundation of what would become my career.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I am a professor of fish ecology in the School of Natural Resources. I teach courses that typically cover the basics of fish population management and that explore the interface between freshwater ecosystems and human uses. My research typically focuses on issues related to fish population dynamics, community structure, and control of invasive species in large rivers.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I had interacted with one of the previous fisheries related professors at various meetings over the years leading up to my arrival here. He always spoke highly of the sense of community in the School and IANR and encouraged me to apply for the fisheries position that opened back in 2004. That sense of community was obvious at my interview and reaffirmed this was a place I wanted to work.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy watching students grow and develop into young professionals by the time they graduate. Helping students work through the process of determining what they want to do and where, followed by providing them with experiences and knowledge to build the necessary skill sets as they launch their careers, is extremely fulfilling.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The faculty that are the core of the Fisheries and Wildlife Major in the School have built the undergraduate program from an enrollment of less than about 75 students in the mid-2000s to one that has blossomed to a program of nearly 300 students now. Our enrollment has grown, but we have made concerted efforts to still hold to our roots of experiential learning as we try to embed students in hands-on field activities as much as possible. Our program has been recognized nationally and internationally and I am grateful to help initiate that growth and continue to be a part of that building process.
What is something that most people don't know about you?
I have become a huge fan of cricket (the sport) over the last decade or so. Not sure how or why, but it happened.
What is your life like outside of work?
My life outside of work is most often spent outside doing things like fishing and hunting when possible, woodworking, and puttering around the acreage. I also like to travel and have been fortunate to see some amazing places around the world over the years.