Written by Andy McGlashen, Environmental Science and Policy Program
For a researcher with Brian Roth's interests, the Great Lakes State is an ideal place to be.
The assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife studies interactions between native and non-native species. Invasive species are an issue everywhere, but with ships constantly bringing new species to the Great Lakes, "it hits home here in Michigan a little bit harder," he said.
Roth's other chief research interest is "to look at fish populations in small and large lakes with a spatial emphasis." With most current technology, it's difficult to observe the movements of fish populations without spending all of one's time – and budget – in the field. Emerging technologies allow researchers to remotely observe fish movements while working in the lab, but are only powerful enough for use in small bodies of water. The technology will have to improve to be useful in the Great Lakes, he said.
Roth has always been interested in fish and loved fishing as a boy in Seattle. "It's all about fishing for me," he said.
But as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he thought he'd focus on geology. "When I got to college, I didn't realize it was possible to study fish," he said. "I don't know how I didn't know that." Aware of new possibilities, and having discovered the amount of physics involved in geology, he majored in ecological biology and researched the effects of invasive milfoil on fish populations.
Roth then earned his master's degree and doctorate in limnology and marine science from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied the roles of invasive crayfish and smelt in northern lakes. He later did post-doctoral research on shrimp populations and wetland rehabilitation at Louisiana State University.
He teaches an ichthyology class, and next semester will teach a course in fisheries techniques.
Roth said Michigan is well-suited to his hobbies; he likes sports, fishing and "just getting outside." He also has family in this part of the country, and said he feels at home here.
"I love the Midwest," he said. "People are the nicest in the Midwest, hands down. That makes things a lot easier."