Associate Dean Kenneth Rose Receives American Fisheries Society Award of Excellence

11/21/2014 08:59 AM

Kenneth Rose, the associate dean of research and professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at LSU’s School of Coast & Environment, or SC&E, recently traveled to Québec where he received the American Fisheries Society Award of Excellence.

Rose was honored at the American Fisheries Society, or AFS, annual meeting for his work in population, food web and ecosystem modeling of aquatic systems. It was there that he was awarded with this lifetime achievement award that reflects not only his research, but also his collaborative spirit and sound knowledge.  

He received a bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics from the University at Albany, SUNY in New York and his master’s and doctorate degrees in fisheries from the University of Washington.  

After several years in private consulting, he began work at the Oak Ridge National Lab, where he was a research staff member in the Environmental Sciences Division for 12 years. In 1998, he joined the LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. He has published more than 130 papers and served on more than 30 national and international advisory committees and editorial boards.


How did you become involved in the field of mathematical and computer modeling of aquatic populations, communities, food webs and ecosystems?
My undergraduate training at the University at Albany in New York was in biology and mathematics, and I grew up near water and interested in aquatic ecology. As sometimes happens, three somewhat unplanned, or random, events occurred that led me to simulation modeling of aquatic food web and fisheries.


While an undergraduate student, I was invited to give a seminar whose theme that year happened to be combing mathematical methods and biology.  Remember this was a long time ago in 1970’s, when this was a new idea. I went to the library and found an example of a population model of the tuna fishery and gave that as my seminar. The second event occurred when I was applying for graduate school and Gordon Swartzman at the University of Washington happened to see my letter, and he offered me a research assistantship. Later, I found out how strong the fisheries and oceanography group at University of Washington was in quantitative modeling. Finally, before joining LSU I spent 12 years as a research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and worked with some of the top ecological modelers in the world and collaborate with them on a 10-year project with the simple goal of developing better fish population and food web models.


Such opportunities of being able to dedicate such a long time of being funded on a specific project allowed me to fully explore the topic and even revisit near the end of the project some of my earlier not-so-successful attempts. Now, knowledge of quantitative methods is very much in vogue and demand.


What is the goal of your research?
The goal of my research is to use mathematical and computer simulation modeling to predict the responses of key upper trophic level – often fish – populations to various factors, including harvest strategies, contaminant exposure, habitat loss and restoration and climate change.


You recently found out that you are the recipient of the American Fisheries Society Award of Excellence, the society’s highest award for scientific achievement. What does that mean for you?
I was both honored and humbled. The American Fisheries Society was started in 1870 with its mission being to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. This organization has been around for a long time and is the premier fisheries organization in the United States. This particular award has been awarded annually since 1969, and when I looked at the name of the past recipients, I was humbled. The list included the really big names in fisheries – the people whose papers and books I studied. Names like Bill Ricker, Ray Beverton, David Cushing, Jim Kitchell, Carl Walters, Ray Hilborn and Daniel Pauly. An expression that seems appropriate is “standing on the shoulders of giants.” Thus, receiving this award from my peers that viewed people on a national level was very meaningful for me.


Was there a specific project or research focus submitted to AFS?
This award is really for something like lifetime achievement, rather than a specific project. Most of my work has been on modeling, especially a method that simulates the population and food web by representing each individual. This method had only been used rarely and little noticed in fish ecology and fisheries, and I had the pleasure of working with a team at Oak Ridge National Lab, and then continuing the work at LSU, who initiated a swell of using individual-based modeling in fisheries and ecology in general. Now, the technique is widely used.


A second major aspect of my research is its collaborative and multi-disciplinary nature. I was recognized for working with many people. An example of this is that I have written scientific papers with more than 300 different co-authors. I also have had the pleasure of doing work locally in coastal Louisiana to large-scale international efforts.


Finally, aquatic ecology and fisheries has become quite controversial in many places with competing demands for freshwater in coastal systems and scientific disputes about U.S. fisheries management. I have gotten involved with many of these and, at last to date, am considered a voice of reason for using science in decision making.




Tara  Kistler 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014