Michael Schwarz has been named the director of the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (Seafood AREC) in Hampton, Virginia.

Schwarz is a leader in aquaculture production and has worked around the globe to share that knowledge with nations and industries looking to increase sustainable food production. He has been with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences since 1997 with a joint appointment in the College of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. He is also a Virginia Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist.  

In his new role as a director of the Seafood AREC, Schwarz will oversee the center’s ongoing core research and Extension programming in such areas as seafood safety; seafood quality of wild and cultured animals and products; business and marketing support for the commercial and aquaculture industries; engineering, thermal processing, intensive, and recirculating aquaculture; and education and outreach for industry and consumers.

A recent addition to this programming has been the incorporation of a new conservation aquaculture program designed to help both conservation and restoration efforts, as well as industrial opportunities in this sector. These multidimensional and integrated programs incorporate significant domestic as well as international activities. This programming is also closely linked with the Virginia Sea Grant Seafood Extension Program, a relationship he will endeavor to enhance.

The Virginia Seafood AREC also has a strong international program in food safety, food quality, Good Aquaculture Practices, intensive recirculating aquaculture larval production of marine species, implementation, and development.

During his tenure at Virginia Tech over the past 19 years, Schwarz has been a strong supporter of a domestic aquaculture industry, having helped dozens of existing and new aquaculture companies enter and remain viable in a rapidly changing industry. For more than a decade, he has also operated an international aquaculture training program at Virginia Tech and the Virginia Seafood AREC, where he trained more than 100 undergraduate, graduate, post-docs, and faculty, as well as government and industry representatives from the United States and around the world. International programming has also focused on working with the U.S. State Department, foreign governments, and global industry sectors toward the advancement of sustainable aquaculture, it’s socioeconomic potential, and contribution to geopolitical stability. 

Schwarz earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Texas A&M University, and an associate's degree from Brevard Community College in Melbourne, Florida.

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