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Last summer, he completed a fisheries internship with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. His work focused on providing the public quality fishing opportunities through small pond and property management, but he also had the opportunity to join agency biologists on surveys and outreach events. His favorite experience was SCUBA diving in the Flint River to conduct Striped Bass surveys.
Following this internship, Austin has devoted himself to the fisheries profession. He is currently a technician on a graduate research project focused on tracking Invasive Carp movement through water control structures in the Mississippi Delta. Austin has pursued other opportunities, such as backpack electrofishing surveys and VIE tagging for Frecklebelly Madtoms and Yoknapatawpha darters with the USFWS, and volunteer electrofishing surveys with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Austin did not originally go to college to pursue an education in fisheries and did not realize the potential for a career in this field until switching majors his sophomore year. To help others make this realization sooner, Austin has worked to expose his peers to the field’s opportunities by serving as his university’s AFS Sub-Unit Undergraduate Representative.
With these experiences and his perspective as an undergraduate student, Austin would provide a unique, valuable point of view as the SDAFS Student Representative, an appointment he would proudly serve.
My name is Madi Polera. I’m a Biology PhD student associated with the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and an NCSU Genetics and Genomics Academy Fellow. I will serve as the President of the NCSU Biology Graduate Student Association in the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.
My dissertation aims to quantify baseline health and fitness metrics for endangered freshwater mussels and develop a suite of biomarkers that can inform conservation, management, policy, and propagation efforts. More broadly, my research interests include using the field of “-omics” to understand how genetics and the environment affect health and fitness of vulnerable wildlife species, particularly in freshwater ecosystems.
I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology and chemistry in 2013 and Master of Science degree in marine biology in 2016 at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. While there, I served as the Vice President of the Department of Biology and Marine Biology Graduate Student Association and the master’s representative to the Graduate Advisory Committee. After graduate school, I worked as an inland fisheries technician for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and a contracted field biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where I provided a harmful cyanobacterial bloom risk assessment on North Carolina coastal rivers. I then spent two years characterizing Striped Bass and American Alligator exposure to and impacts of emerging contaminants.
Outside of academia, I have a background providing support and project management at a nonprofit organization. I spent three years contributing to and coordinating projects that engaged community members and scientists through environmental education, fish consumption advisory communication, and other regional scientific studies in addition to directing a major annual fundraiser and teams of volunteers. I am the Water Quality Committee Co-Chair and have functioned as a communications liaison to academic, industry, agency, and nonprofit partners for the Cape Fear River Partnership, a group working to restore migratory fisheries in the Cape Fear River.
I am a passionate and fierce advocate for student health, wellness, success, and professional development. As the SDAFS student representative I would seek to hear, empower, connect, and elevate the voices of students seeking careers in fisheries sciences.