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Six Austin Peay students to present at Southeastern Fishes Council annual meeting

Alexis Culley, left, and River Watson, right, collect genetic data from Kentucky arrow darters.

Nov. 19 update from the Ichthyology at Austin Peay State University Facebook page: "So proud of our APSU Johansen and Cashner Labs for their terrific SFC presentations! Congratulations to Nastasia Disotell (1st Place Etnier Oral Presentation Award), Lexi Culley (1st Place Suttkus Poster Presentation Award) and River Watson (3rd Place Suttkus Poster Presentation Award) for their award-winning work! We also had fun exploring Columbus, GA and enjoyed many other excellent presentations of research on southeastern fishes."


(Originally posted on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021)

Nastasia Disotell
Nastasia Disotell presents at the 2019 Southeastern Fishes Council meeting.

Several graduate and undergraduate biology students from Austin Peay State University will present at the Southeastern Fishes Council meeting on Nov. 18-19, 2021, in Columbus, Georgia.

The meeting usually draws about 200 people from throughout the Southeast to present and discuss ongoing research in the region, but the conference also allows students to make connections with the academic and professional community.

“One of the reasons we love this meeting is because it is a very student-centric group,” said Dr. Rebecca Blanton Johansen, who attends the meeting each year with APSU students and fellow biology professor Dr. Mollie F. Cashner. “There are great opportunities for students to interact with professionals in the field beyond their presentations to build collaborations and identify resources/funding or future advisers.”

Johansen – also a principal investigator for the Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay – said her students have made connections through their presentations at the meeting that have led to graduate school positions at universities like Arkansas State, Auburn and Southeastern Louisiana.

Nastasia Disotell, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Biology at Austin Peay, first presented at the meeting as an undergraduate in 2017 and now sees the annual gathering like a family reunion.

“I am most looking forward to having the opportunity of presenting my master’s thesis research to a crowd that has seen me since I was an undergraduate,” she said. “It will be such an honor to demonstrate how far I’ve come in my academic career.”

River Watson, who also is pursuing an M.S. in Biology at Austin Peay, will attend the meeting for the fifth time.

“I love to see everyone and hear about what they’re up to now and how their research has evolved since I last saw them,” she said.

Six students (listed below) plan to present at the meeting. The meeting’s program has much fuller explanations of the research they’re doing.

All of the students cited their experiences with fellow students and biology professors.

“My best experiences at Austin Peay have been getting to work with some of the incredible faculty we have here in the Department of Biology and at the Center for Field Excellence in Biology, as well as meeting all of the other graduate students with really varied interests,” said Jacob Barrett, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Biology at APSU. “I feel challenged to learn and expand my skill set every day, and I think it’s mostly due to the incredible faculty, researchers and students we have here.”

River Watson with a previous study species.

River Watson

Alexis Culley with a Kentucky arrow darter.

Alexis Culley

A male Kentucky arrow darter.

Nastasia Disotell

Julie Kastanis

Julie Kastanis
Jacob Barrett holding a creek chub.

Jacob Barrett

Matthew Scott is presenting as an undergraduate.

Matthew Scott

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