Student Spotlight: John Grayson

John Grayson

Last summer, Stone Lab gave John Grayson the opportunity to go beyond just reeling in fish and sparked his passion for research that will help him and other anglers better protect Lake Erie for future generations

Ever since he can remember, John Grayson has been a fisherman. From the time he was a five-year old barely able to hold a fishing rod, John has had a passion for the sport. But this past summer, Stone Lab gave him the opportunity to go beyond just reeling in fish and sparked his passion for research that will help him and other anglers better protect Lake Erie for future generations

The senior forestry, fisheries, and wildlife major from Wellington, Ohio spent last summer at the lab taking an ichthyology class and carrying out research for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, thanks to Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program.

“I’m glad the REU scholarship gave me a chance to spend my summer at Stone Lab and carry out real world research,” John says. “I’m planning on entering graduate school soon and the experience I’ve gained by conducting scientific research, from hypothesis through the presentation of my findings, will definitely help prepare me.”

For his project, John worked with Chris Vandergoot of the ODNR Division of Wildlife on part of a long-term study of devices used to track the movement of walleye, a valuable game fish. Before purchasing the devices, the division wanted to know their limitations and accuracy. Tracking walleye will give the ODNR Division of Wildlife information to use in managing and protecting the fishery. Managers want to know where spawning sites are and how far walleye travel to reach them. This information could allow managers to protect or restore spawning areas to keep the walleye population numbers up.

The experience I’ve gained by conducting scientific research, from hypothesis through the presentation of my findings, will definitely help prepare me for graduate school.

“Working with John was a real joy,” Chris says. “He was always willing and ready to get out on the lake and you could always tell that he was formulating questions in his mind about the experiments we were running.”

Stone Lab was a perfect place for John to fulfill his curiosity. Between his research and class, he was out on the lake every day, which he found fascinating. “I thought class, with all the field sampling out on the lake, was extremely fun,” he says. “We caught a lot of strange fish−things you don’t see very often, like 15-inch goldfish, and other fish I had never seen, like bowfin, northern pike, and various sucker species. I’ve always thought fishing was a great mystery of finding what’s underneath the water because it’s always surprising. Stone Lab helped fuel my curiosity.”

Just collecting fish for research wasn’t enough for John and he made time to fit sport fishing into his daily schedule on Gibraltar Island. The summer at Stone Lab allowed him to play a small part in preserving the walleye fishery in Lake Erie, Ohio’s greatest natural resource.

I thought class, with all the field sampling out on the lake, was extremely fun. Stone Lab helped fuel my curiosity.

“Knowing the spawning habitats of Lake Erie walleye is an important step in protecting them,” John says. “I’m glad I had the chance to get in on this research at the ground floor. It’s not every day that you get to be involved with a study that helps both the environment and the sport fishing on Lake Erie for anglers like me.”

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