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Nick Weber to be awarded NMFS-Sea Grant joint fellowship

Fellows selected are trained to be ‘the fisheries scientists of the future’

Jul 29, 2020

Nick Weber, a first-year PhD student in the Marine Genomics Laboratory at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, was selected to receive a prestigious joint fellowship through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the National Sea Grant College Program. He is the first person nominated by Texas Sea Grant to be selected for the fellowship.

Since 1990, NMFS and Sea Grant have partnered on this fellowship to support PhD students in two main areas: population and ecosystem dynamics and marine resource economics.

Population and ecosystem dynamics involves the study of fish populations and marine ecosystems to better evaluate and manage fishery stock conditions. Marine resource economics is the study of economics related to natural resources used in the marine environment.

The joint fellowship program trains students to become the fisheries scientists of the future. Part of this training includes mentorship through both the students’ university and NMFS. Fellows are also given the opportunity to attend an annual research symposium where they can exchange ideas and advance their research. The fellowship provides over $107 thousand in funding over the course of three years.

Under the guidance of his advisor, Dr. David Portnoy, Weber plans to use the fellowship to continue his genetics research aimed at informing fisheries management. Genetic data can help him better understand fishery population structure and how to keep fish populations healthy.

“Genetic data are critical to fisheries management,” Weber said. “Having an understanding of how many potential populations exist for a given species can help to avoid over-exploitation, and we can use genetic data to enhance this understanding.” 

Through this fellowship, Weber can also take his interest in protecting exploited fish populations to the next level. In collaboration with his NMFS mentor, Beverly Barnett, he hopes to explore and potentially identify a new method for aging exploited fishes, using DNA. Studying the age dynamics of exploited fish populations is important because it can help researchers and fisheries managers better understand how to maintain healthy fish populations. 

“I was really excited when I learned that I was selected to receive the fellowship,” Weber said. “This is the first national fellowship that I’ve received.” 

Weber’s goal is to graduate in the spring of 2024. After graduation, he is looking forward to continuing his research in fisheries management in academia or a state or federal agency.

Weber will begin his fellowship in August 2020.


By Callie Rainosek, ’17, ’19

Media Contact: Sara Carney, Texas Sea Grant Communications Manager,, (979) 458-8442

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