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NC State’s Johnna Brooks Earns Fellowship

Congratulations to Johnna Brooks, NC State PhD student, on her award as a 2022 National Marine Fisheries Service Joint Fellowship Recipient! The NMFS-Sea Grant Joint Fellowship program supports PhD students studying population and ecosystem dynamics and marine resource economics. According to the Sea Grant/NOAA Fisheries, these fellowships focus on “training the next generation of specialized experts in fisheries management. The program addresses the critical need for future fisheries scientists with expertise in stock assessment and related fields.”

Brooks is working on a doctorate in Biomathematics with a focus on fisheries ecology and population dynamics, and is conducting specific research on Spotted Seatrout, a popular estuarine fish in North Carolina. Spotted Seatrout are susceptible to cold stun events, which are a major source of their mortality during the colder winter months. Brooks says her goal is to, “create a new stock assessment model for this species that accounts for the temperature-dependent seasonal effects on their population dynamics.”

A native of Harkers Island, “I grew up fishing in the estuaries of North Carolina, so I am excited for the chance to apply my knowledge of mathematics and use it to research such a popular estuarine fish such as Spotted Seatrout,” says Brooks. “I loved growing up in such a tight-knit fishing community. Commercial fishing is such an important part of the culture of Harkers Island/Down East, and being able to continue to partake in these traditional fishing methods of the area gives me a sense of identity.”

“As a first-generation college student,” Brooks says, “I sometimes feel like I am in way over my head in getting a PhD. However, getting this fellowship gives me the confidence that I can push through and finish my degree. I am so incredibly grateful to be a 2022 Sea Grant Fellow. This fellowship will fund the remaining [three] years of my PhD and also give me an opportunity for networking because I am able to make connections with other Sea Grant Fellows and NOAA scientists from around the country.”

“I would like to thank NMFS Sea Grant for providing me the opportunity to continue my education and research in a field that I am so passionate about.” Brooks says she hopes her perseverance and success will encourage other kids in the area to pursue career goals that may seem unattainable.