Brandon Peoples of Fort Smith, Ark., a doctoral student in fisheries and wildlife sciences in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, won the American Fisheries Society’s 2012 student writing contest.

The American Fisheries Society, founded in 1870, is the oldest and largest professional society representing fisheries scientists. Student awards were announced at the society’s annual meeting in St. Paul, Minn.

Peoples’ article, “Focus on the positive: how one little fish helps to sustain aquatic biodiversity,” was published in the October issue of Fisheries, a monthly peer-reviewed journal for society members. Peoples also received an honorable mention for the society’s John E. Skinner Memorial Scholarship.

As summarized in the article, research conducted by Peoples and his colleagues showed positive interactions between a type of minnow called the bluehead chub and other minnows, collectively termed “nest associates.” He also introduced the topic of his ongoing large-scale experiment, which seeks to determine how habitat changes can affect interactions between species.

“My advisor, Emmanuel Frimpong, and I have been working on these ideas for some time now,” Peoples said. “I’m enthused about presenting our research in a somewhat informal format.

“Scientists are good at communicating technically, but don’t often share their information in easily understandable terms,” he continued. “If we want to keep science in the mainstream conversation, we have to be able to communicate for everyone to understand.”

Peoples, who received his bachelor's degree from Arkansas Tech, says he hopes to continue to conduct research in the future and teach at a university one day. He also plans to continue writing. “As long as I’m doing research, I’ll be writing in one format or another,” he said.

Shannon White of Ashland, Va., a master’s student in fisheries science in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, received a John E. Skinner Memorial Scholarship from the American Fisheries Society. The scholarship includes a one-year society membership and covers expenses to attend next year’s annual meeting. Selection is based on academic achievement, professional service, and reasons for attending the meeting.

“I’m very honored to be a recipient of this award,” White said. “To be recognized as one of the top fisheries students in the country is truly humbling, and the award motivates me to continue to strive for excellence in my own work and to encourage others to become involved in great organizations like the American Fisheries Society.”

White, who received her bachelor's degree from Randolph-Macon College plans on completing a doctoral program after obtaining her master’s degree. “The end goal for me is to become a professor at a small college,” she explained.

Written by LauraBess Kenny of Richmond, Va., a junior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
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