Two graduate students in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation have received fellowships that will pave the way for significant contributions to their fields of study as well as increased career opportunities.

Brian Case

Brian Case holds a large salamander while crouching in a forest stream

Master’s student Brian Case received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, valued at more than $130,000. He says that he will now be able to pursue his doctorate and added that the award is “a tremendously humbling recognition that will further set the foundation for a career in scientific research.”

Case is interested in the ways that human activity and its effects on water quality impact wildlife populations. His current research focuses on how Eastern hellbenders, a species of aquatic giant salamanders, raise their offspring and how this process may be affected by issues like sedimentation, forest removal, and pollution.

Corbin Hilling

Corbin Hilling holds a very large catfish while standing on a boat in a large river

Doctoral student Corbin Hilling received a Virginia Sea Grant Graduate Research Fellowship of $80,000 for his work with blue catfish and their impact on Chesapeake Bay tributaries. “The fellowship is going to be a great opportunity,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to Sea Grant professional development workshops, particularly on scientific communication.”

Hilling’s research explores population dynamics and the ways that the population of blue catfish, a nonnative species that was introduced into Virginia in the mid-1970s, is changing over time. Using this information, he will then run simulations to explore how the species can be better managed to reduce its impacts on the bay tributaries.