Matt and Ryan Awarded David and Ann Speaks Memorial CCA NC Scholarship

coastline and sandy beach

Not one, but two Applied Ecology graduate students have been awarded David and Ann Speaks Memorial Scholarships through the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina. Ryan Tharp and Matt Damiano, who are based at NC State’s Center of Marine Science and Technology, were selected for the $2,000 scholarships to support their research focused on coastal NC.

Ryan Tharp (top) and fish

Ryan is studying for a master’s degree and researching how recreationally important fishes utilize artificial reefs and structures. His goal is to help improve recreational fishery yield while maintaining the health of fish populations. Ryan is also serving as the Director of the Blue Marlin Sampling for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament and a Mentor in the American Fisheries Society Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program.

“As an avid angler myself, fishing offers both a peace and excitement that is rarely matched,” says Tharp. “It is a feeling that I want everyone to experience, and to do so, I need to ensure the fish are there.” Ryan is supervised by Jeff Buckel.

Matt Damiano (top) and cobia

Matt is studying for a doctorate and is working to improve stock assessment methodology, management strategy evaluation (MSE) while examining the impacts of climate change on southeastern US fisheries, especially recreationally important species of black sea bass, Atlantic cobia, and dolphinfish.

“I worked with members from all commercial and recreational fishery sectors as a representative of the tribal sector myself, learning how to find consensus solutions to difficult management problems using simulation experiments,” says Damiano. “I wanted to truly understand management strategy evaluation and stock assessment well enough to lead a similar group; to be able to walk those without the training through the black box and act as an honest broker of policy decisions that would lead to the long-term conservation and sustainability of fisheries.” Matt is supervised by Jie Cao.

Congratulations Ryan and Matt!

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