Eager to generate more interest in fish and help mentor students, graduate research assistant John Cannaday helped lead a Creative Inquiry group researching how climate change is affecting yellow perch in South Carolina.

John Cannaday holds a yellow perch.

John Cannaday holds a yellow perch.

“I had great mentors during my time as an undergraduate who encouraged me to become involved in fisheries research, and I wanted to do the same for my students by providing them with the opportunities to gain experience working with fish outside of the classroom,” he said.

For his work with Creative Inquiry, Cannaday, who studies wildlife and fisheries biology in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, was awarded the 2020 Phil and Mary Bradley Graduate Student Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry.

Cannaday, whose students gained experience presenting their research at regional and national conferences, said, “working with undergraduate researchers is a highly rewarding experience. I was able to spark an interest in fisheries science in students and watch these students grow as scientists.”

He and his faculty mentor, assistant professor Troy Farmer, have been working with 14 undergraduates during the past two years.

“John has served as an excellent mentor for CI students in forestry and environmental conservation,” Farmer said. “In addition to teaching students how to conduct scientific research in both field and laboratory settings, John has taken an active role in mentoring students as they draft applications for job, internship and graduate school opportunities. He has shown students not only how science is conducted, but also how to become scientists themselves.”

Cannaday involved students in a variety of fisheries experiences, including gaining hands-on skills in fish sampling, fish care and data analysis to study how well yellow perch, a cool water species, reproduce during warmer Southern winters.

Cannaday’s students are scheduled to present at another national conference this summer.