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NOAA Fisheries Scientists Receive PECASE Awards

Two NOAA Fisheries scientists received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 4th. Learn more about their accomplishments below:

Dr. Nathan Bacheler (Southeast Fisheries Science Center)

Dr. Bacheler has published 22 scientific publications, of which he is first author on 18, including such prestigious journals as Ecology, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries Bulletin, and Marine Ecology Progress Series, among others. He has presented the results from his research at more than 15 conferences, and has received numerous grants for innovative research.

His research directly supports NOAA's mission to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. To properly manage marine resources, NOAA Fisheries requires an estimate of stock abundances. Dr. Bacheler has improved estimation methodologies by overseeing the first large-scale application of underwater video to monitor economically important reef fish species. Dr. Bacheler showed quantitatively the advantages of using video rather than traditional sampling method such as traps, diver surveys, or trawls for indexing the abundance of important species. 

In addition, Dr. Bacheler is pioneering the use of sonar to count actual numbers of fish over large sampling areas. He is using spatially extensive video sampling, stratified by habitat type, as a way to partition acoustic signals into individual fish species. This will not only improve estimates of fish abundance, but can be also used to improve understanding of interactions between fish species and their habitats. Dr. Bacheler brings unique and innovative insights to NOAA by pioneering the use of new sampling technologies, developing novel quantitative methods to characterize fish communities, engaging students and the community in research, and partnering with the fishing industry to achieve NOAA's goals.

More information about SEFSC research can be found here: 

Dr. James Thorson (Northwest Fisheries Science Center) 

Dr. Thorson published seven journal articles from research conducted during his tenure as a master's student, and was first author on five of those. In the 4 years since he began his Ph.D. program in 2009, Dr. Thorson has published 21 articles (first author on 15) with 11 more in the works. 

Dr. Thorson's papers have addressed the status of world fisheries.  They have advanced methodologies for data-rich and data-poor stock assessments, addressed improvements in modeling life-history and reference points through use of meta-analysis and the development of Bayesian priors, and tackled challenging issues related to spatial and temporal variability in assessment modeling. Dr. Thorson has worked on taxa ranging from groundfish to salamanders to sea turtles.  He has improved methodologies for analyzing survey data, improving mark-recapture techniques, and incorporating habitat quantity and quality into stock assessments. Dr. Thorson led a research effort to highlight the benefits of using spline estimators in fisheries, and was a major participant in working group focused on identifying how multispecies models can be used for practical fisheries management.

Beyond this, Dr. Thorson assisted in analyzing the effectiveness of the Marine Stewardship Council as part of a National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis project. Dr. Thorson has worked for NOAA for only 2 years, and has already enabled the timely production of high-quality stock assessments for data-poor species, enabled more effective use of survey data, improved the quality of full stock assessments, and contributed to methodological improvements used worldwide in quantitative population ecology.  Dr. Thorson's work improves our understanding of the population dynamics of NOAA trust resources, allowing for clearer communication to policy audiences.

More information about NWFSC research can be found here: