The 4th annual Noreen Clough Memorial Scholarships for Females in Fisheries have been awarded to Katherine Abbott of Amherst, Mass., a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Audrey Baetz, of Northville, Mich., who is studying at Nicholls State University.
Clough blazed many trails in the field of fisheries. As the first female regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and later as the B.A.S.S. Conservation Director, her long and distinguished career was dedicated to the conservation and management of fish and wildlife. Clough passed away in January 2015 from pancreatic cancer. As a tribute to her, friends and colleagues established an endowment to provide a scholarship for female students working toward a career in fisheries conservation.
Abbott is working with the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at UMass Amherst to understand how dam removals impact small streams across the state. There are thousands of small, obsolete dams in Massachusetts that impair natural river connectivity by interrupting fish passage, flow, sediment and nutrient movement. Dam removal is increasingly used as a tool for stream restoration, yet the extent and timescale of ecological recovery following removal is not well understood. Abbott’s research objectives include providing state agencies – including the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration and MassWildlife – with data on water quality, invertebrates and fish.
As a new member of “Gar Lab” at Nicholls State University, Baetz’s research will focus on species diversity, life history and trophic ecology in restored Mississippi River floodplains. Her project will primarily focus on gar, a prehistoric family of fish often dependent on floodplain connectivity for foraging, spawning and nursery habitat. By using stable isotope analysis and tracking their movements throughout the floodplain, Baetz hopes to gain information that will be used for the conservation and management of these fish.
“Both of these young women have a bright future in fisheries, but in addition to their academic strengths, they stood out from many of the other applicants because they were avid anglers,” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. Conservation Director.
Gordon Robertson, retired Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association and a long-time colleague of Clough’s, added, “Noreen put a high value on lessons learned from recreational fishing from both a resource understanding and appreciation perspective, but also from a perspective of understanding anglers and how they think and react to resource and social issues. She saw this basis as being valuable to researchers, field managers and administrators when attempting to get resource user groups to respect and understand one another and be able to work toward a common goal for the resource in a constructive manner.”
Abbott and Baetz will each be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to be used for college expenses.