President Obama recently named 105 independent researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given to researchers by the U.S. government in their early careers. Among the recipients is alumnus James Thorson (’09 M.S. fisheries and wildlife sciences), an operations research analyst at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he conducts research regarding state-of-the-art analytic approaches to theoretical and applied questions in marine population ecology.

“James, who majored in philosophy as an undergraduate, became an outstanding graduate student at Virginia Tech and pursued many interests in fisheries and aquatic science,” said Professor Don Orth, who served on Thorson’s graduate committee. “He developed and tested a number of innovative approaches to forecasting fish population trends.”

“I am incredibly flattered by the award, and happy to work at a governmental lab with talented and varied colleagues,” Thorson said. “We have unprecedented access to data globally, from individual to landscape scales. Perhaps my greatest pleasure in the award is that NOAA and the federal government recognize the value of broad, question-driven science that synthesizes information at different scales.”