Blake Hamilton

Blake Hamilton

"Personal, professional, and academic growth"

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree Program: Biological Sciences
Degree: Master's

Awards: Save Our Seas Foundation Small Grant (2021), Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Scholarship (2021), PADI Foundation Grant (2020)

Why FSU?

I chose to pursue a graduate degree at FSU so that I could work for and learn from my advisor, Dr. Dean Grubbs. I also was intrigued by the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab's remote setting and access to multiple, distinct habitats within a short boat drive. Access to the opportunities provided by both Dr. Grubbs and the FSUCML have contributed greatly to my success as a graduate student and have opened up doors for my future career.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

I was fortunate to work several really interesting field research jobs following my graduation from UC Davis with a BSc in Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology, but I quickly realized my interest in expanding my involvement in the scientific process beyond collecting important data and samples. Through my career as a graduate student, I've focused on developing my leadership, project management, data analysis, and report/manuscript writing abilities, each of which will be important in a fisheries biologist position.

Importance and/or impact of research and work

The Grubbs Lab focuses our research on both endangered and commercially/recreationally exploited fishery species with the goal of contributing to the scientific knowledge necessary to implement effective and informed management measures. I'm personally most interested in balancing both practical uses and conservation objectives for natural resources, so that they may continue to serve important roles in both our economy and environment.

Career aspirations

I intend to continue applied research in fisheries ecology. I'm interested in expanding my research on the movement and trophic ecology of predatory fishes in order to understand how changes to their environment may affect species interactions and habitat use. It is important that we understand how a changing climate may affect fishery resources so that we may adapt management approaches in a timely manner.

Advice for anyone considering graduate school

I would advise prospective students to be willing to get out of their comfort zone and be determined in pursuing a project that they are passionate about. I benefited greatly from spending a few years working in my field before returning for a graduate degree, and these experiences helped me both in finding the right graduate school fit and developing my graduate research.

Accomplishments during academic career

I've submitted both of my thesis chapters for publication in scientific journals; one was accepted by Marine Ecology Progress Series and the other is in review for Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. I am also proud of contributing to the NOAA-delegated GulfSPAN survey by collecting data and sending reports to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center for use in stock assessments of four coastal shark species. On top of listed above awards, I also received the FSUCML Board of Trustees Graduate Research Scholarship (2021, 2020), the William R. and Lenore Mote Eminent Scholar in Marine Biology (2021), and the Lou Burnett Award, Southern Association of Marine Laboratories. Finally, I was able to become a Coast Guard licensed boat Captain (MMC) during my time at the FSUCML, which will undoubtedly open up opportunities for me in the future.