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Graduate Students

Ryan Tharp

Ryan’s interests focus on fish movement ecology and habit use. Specifically, his thesis work documents fine-scale movement of recreationally important reef fishes to learn how they are using the various artificial structures found on North Carolina’s artificial reefs. Many different structures are present in these reefs, such as decommissioned vessels, concrete pipes, and reef balls. Each structure offers a different level of complexity that can provide opportunities for reef species. Knowing how fishes use these structures will improve future maintenance and installation of artificial reefs, supporting recreational and commercial fishing communities.  

For more information, Ryan can be contacted at: 

Thom Teears

Thom’s interest focuses on learning more about fisheries and aquatic ecological relationships in order to inform fisheries resource stewardship and conservation.  He is currently working on a southeast coast-wide stock assessment of Sheepshead as a North Carolina Sea Grant Fellow in collaboration with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries as well as other scientists from southeastern Atlantic states.  He utilizes quantitative methods to understand fish stock dynamics by exploring various data-limited stock assessment approaches using established and developing technologies.  He also is interested in learning more about the biological and ecological interactions used in estimating fish stock dynamics parameters.

Thom can be contacted at

Other Personnel

Dr. Paul Rudershausen

Research Scholar

Paul is the lead on several projects in the lab.  Currently, he is comparing circle and j hook performance in the dolphinfish, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo fishery; estimating discard mortality in reef fishes using tag returns; and using hydroacoustics and traditional fish sampling gear to test alternative strategies to index adult snapper-grouper species.

Paul can be contacted at 252.222.6342 or

Jeffery Merrell

Fisheries Field and Laboratory Technician

Jeffery is a local to Carteret County and has worked on or around the water the majority of his life.  He received his BS in Biology from East Carolina University in 2004.  After graduation, Jeffery spent six months as a temporary Fisheries Field and Laboratory Technician at CMAST before being hired on with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries as a Marine Fisheries Technician doing a stock assessment in Pamlico Sound.  Currently, Jeffery assists our graduate students with their research as needed, whether its gathering data in the field, working up samples within the lab, or helping with data entry and analysis.

Jeffery can be contacted at