Eric Balkovacs of UC Santa Cruz has been named the 2023 Excellence in Fisheries Education Award recipient by American Fisheries Society (AFS), the organization announced. This award is presented to an individual in recognition of excellence in structured teaching and advising in some aspect of fisheries education.

Balkovac is Director of the Cooperative Fisheries Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Which supports collaborative projects between UC Santa Cruz and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center. He is also a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in freshwater ecology and fisheries ecology, and has been a faculty mentor in the College of the Environment Student subunit in the Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay area Since its establishment in 2015.

the The Excellence in Fisheries Education Award goes to Balkovac KTheir contributions to fisheries education through teaching, mentoring, and DEI efforts.

Palkovacs engages students who take his courses in active learning and links theory with practical applications. He is a mentor and co-adviser for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers alike. He has advised 11 Ph.D. students, five master’s students, 10 postdoctoral researchers, several undergraduate thesis projects, and has served on numerous graduate advisory committees. The students and researchers he supervised have gone on to obtain prestigious positions in academia, state and federal agencies, and prestigious nongovernmental organizations.

In addition, the Palkovacs are active in creating an inclusive culture by launching programs such as the “Diverse Voices in Fisheries Science” symposium series, held annually at UC Santa Cruz. the Diverse Voices in Fisheries Science events provide a platform for diverse speakers to share their research and create a space for early-career scientists to connect with industry professionals.

Balkovac’s research interests include freshwater ecology, eco-evolutionary dynamics, fish ecology, fisheries management and conservation. He is particularly interested in the ecological consequences of genetic and phenotypic variation among species and applications of eco-evolutionary dynamics to fisheries management. He is also actively involved in the conservation and management of the US Pacific Coast anadromous fish – fish that migrate to spawn – and the US Atlantic Coast river herring.

“For those who know my work, you probably know that I am interested in ‘extended phenotypes’ — traits of organisms that continue to shape their environments,” Balkovacs said. “For me, teaching and mentoring are our most powerful Extended Phenotypes. Through this, we can share knowledge and experience, inspire new ways of thinking and working, build community and expand diversity. We are all mentors and mentees. I encourage everyone to practice Extended Phenotypes.” Your to improve our field, our fisheries and our world.

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Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the oldest and largest fisheries science society in the world. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic sciences and encouraging the development of fisheries professionals. Through five journals, numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world.

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