Fisheries Management ‘73
Research Director, Midwest Biodiversity Institute
Chris completed his undergraduate degree in SENR in 1973 after studying Fisheries Management. During his time in SENR, he was involved in undergraduate research at the then OSU Museum of Zoology (now OSU Museum of Biodiversity). After graduation, Chris worked part-time for a professor at Wittenberg University, received a Master's in Zoology from DePauw University, worked twenty-five years at Ohio EPA, and is now the Research Director at the Midwest Biodiversity Institute located in Hilliard, OH since 2001.
Read the full interview with Chris:
A Glance at Chris’ Current Work
I am currently the Research Director at the Midwest Biodiversity Institute located in Hilliard, OH. There really isn’t a typical day as the job varies so much depending on project work. The hours are variable and flexible and are dictated by workload. I work in the office on administrative, budgeting, personnel, and project management tasks, but also manage to spend time in the field and lab doing research. I manage projects related to water quality and biological assessments for federal, state, nongovernmental, and private organizations. My current research includes biological and water quality assessment, water quality standards (WQS), CWA policies, and assisting state, and non-governmental programs to improve their understanding and use of WQS and monitoring information. The most rewarding part of my job is advancing the science and practice of aquatic bioassessment, supervising personnel, and interacting with clients.
What were you involved in during college?
During my time at OSU, I participated in undergraduate research at the OSU Museum of Zoology, now known as the OSU Museum of Biodiversity. I was able to complexly focus on my research and this, coupled with being exposed to a research atmosphere, really triggered my passion for aquatic sciences. I credit professor Ted Cavender (now emeritus) with allowing me to pursue my research and for his encouragement. I didn’t participate in any internships in college because they were fairly uncommon during my undergraduate tenure, but I spent three summers in Maine studying freshwater and estuarine fishes.
What advice would you give to someone who is still in college and hoping to do what you do?
Work hard, learn to read technical materials (a lot), don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, challenge conventional wisdom, don’t take the first “No” for an answer, be humble, and learn to be persistent in pursuing your goals.
What experience do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?
The independent studies projects that I had as an undergraduate gave me a passion for aquatic sciences. These studies consisted of cataloging fish collections that I had made in Maine during the preceding summers and also established a record for fish species occurrences in a state that lacked such an inventory. This opportunity then matured into a graduate assistantship and then a full-time position at a state agency where I was able to carry what I had learned forward.
What was a challenge you faced in your professional development and how did you overcome it?
A lack of vision inside of the state agencies that I worked for early on posed challenges, but patience and persistence eventually paid off. My ideas for student research were not accepted initially by my primary advisor, so I pursued them with Dr. Cavender who welcomed it. He provided an opportunity that others would not, which spurred a lifelong interest in aquatic sciences.
"Work hard, learn to read technical materials (a lot), don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, challenge conventional wisdom, don’t take the first “No” for an answer, be humble, and learn to be persistent in pursuing your goals."
What did you do immediately post-graduation?
After my B.S. at OSU I worked part time for a professor at Wittenberg University after which I was accepted to graduate school at DePauw University. After graduating with a Masters I went to work for the state of Indiana and then on to the Ohio EPA. Getting a job was not my first choice as I wanted to pursue additional graduate research, but I soon realized it was the best path forward at the time. I found later that I could make more of an impact working inside government than within academia.
What was most important to you in your job search?
I was looking for something relevant to my graduate research and was fortunate that the subject matter was a major Clean Water Act issue of the day (thermal effects), so getting a job came fairly easy. As such I was fortunate in that regard.
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Post created August 2021