Pope, Spurgeon to assume new roles within Nebraska’s, U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units

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March 20, 2024

Lincoln, Neb. —Kevin Pope, who has led the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit since 2019, will be the next Deputy Chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Research Units Program. Jon Spurgeon, Assistant Leader of the Nebraska Coop Research Unit, will step into the Nebraska Unit Leader role.

The Cooperative Research Units program was established in 1935 to enhance graduate education in fisheries and wildlife sciences and to facilitate research and technical assistance between natural resource agencies and universities on topics of mutual concern. Today, there are 42 cooperative research units in 40 states. These include the Nebraska Coop Unit, which is a partnership among the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Wildlife Management Institute, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.  The Nebraska Coop Unit is housed within UNL’s School of Natural Resources. 

Nebraska’s Coop Unit currently has nine graduate students working on a wide range of research ranging from population connectivity of Nebraska’s wild turkeys to habitat selection by the federally endangered pallid sturgeon to hybridization in chickadees. The unit currently houses three federal scientists, who work with graduate students and alongside UNL faculty members. A fourth scientist will be hired this spring.

“Nebraska's landscapes have benefited from the science and student training provided by the Nebraska Coop Unit under Kevin's leadership,” said Larkin Powell, director of UNL’s School of Natural Resources. “We look forward to seeing his influence at the national level, and I am excited about Jonathan's energy and vision for the future as he steps into his new role.”

Prior to leading the Nebraska Coop unit, Pope served as Assistant Leader of the Nebraska Coop Unit at UNL.  He has also held the role of Associate Professor of Fishery Science at Texas Tech University.  He received graduate degrees from Texas A&M University, Auburn University, and South Dakota State University. Pope’s research interests include broadening the understanding of the complexity within inland recreational fisheries.   

Spurgeon joined the Nebraska Coop Unit in 2020. Prior, he served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He received graduate degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and the UNL. A major focus of his research is quantifying the patchwork of habitat conditions needed by stream fishes across their life-history.

Both appointments will be effective on April 22.

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