2010-2011 Fellows

Benjamin Carr

Degree Sought : Ph.D. in Biology
Research Focus: Long term trends in marine species in New England waters

School Name : Graham and Parks, Cambridge
Teaching Partner: Laura Sylvan
Benjamin's Project GLACIER Site

My research is looking at long term trends in both exploited and non-targeted fish stocks in the North Atlantic with a focus on the Gulf of Maine. The region, fished for hundreds of years, has undergone drastic shifts in the last one hundred years, including changes in population composition, abundance, and location. The two species my research focuses on are the long-exploited Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and the dwindling Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). Last year this species of tuna was even included on the list of recommended species for listing as an endangered species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, but whose inclusion was ultimately voted down at the CITES meeting. By looking at long term trends in these two top predators along with the records of more than twenty other species and environmental factors from the region I will be able to model what a pristine New England fish population might look like, allowing us to compare this theoretical fish stock with the current exploited condition. This research will also have policy ramifications, as it will allow for more realistic rebuilding targets and timelines within the framework of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

From the first month of school we have been bringing my research as well as other current research concepts into the classroom. One of the first reading assignments of the year was a four-page introduction to marine science and my research, including information on my two focal species, historic New England fishing methods and timelines, and current methods of fishery analysis and management, going so far as to introduce the idea of chaos theory, and attractors and manifolds. Students used ”active reading strategies” to prepare for an in-class discussion with questions tailored to the ability of each student, allowing them all to reach for an answer without being put too far outside their comfort zone. I have also been preparing “Do Now” assignments, short exercises done in the first few minutes of class, to show students that science and data is around us at all times. They may not have considered that scientists scrutinize something as simple as the daily weather, and that it is scientific thinking and reasoning that allows forecasters to predict whether it will be sunny or snow next week.
Sponsored by the NSF GK-12 Program