NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Two graduate students from Stephen F. Austin State University's Department of Biology have been recognized for their exceptional contributions at the 2024 annual meeting of the Texas Chapter - American Fisheries Society.

Anastasia (Umstott) Simpson, a first-year graduate student advised by Dr. Carmen Montaña-Schalk, assistant professor of biology, was awarded the best oral presentation. Her groundbreaking research focuses on the examination of fish communities in East Texas rivers and streams.

By exploring environmental and seasonal scales, Simpson aims to unravel the factors influencing the distribution and organization of stream communities, particularly in the Neches River and Sabine River basins of East Texas. Her research outcomes are crucial for guiding both broad and local conservation efforts, ensuring the preservation of overall diversity in the region and informing conservation practices.

Chase Nimee, a second-year graduate student under the guidance of Montaña-Schalk, received the 2024 Outstanding Fisheries Worker of the Year Award. His research focuses on the smalleye and sharpnose shiners, two federally endangered fish species in the upper Brazos River. Using a multiscale approach, Nimee investigates the biotic and abiotic drivers influencing the distribution of these shiners and associated fish assemblages.

He was also honored with the Harry Tennison Scholarship by the Sportsmen’s Club of Fort Worth, providing valuable support for his research on the endangered shiners.

“The students in my lab are known for being hard workers and enthusiastic, but the reality is that they all enjoy doing research, both in the field and lab settings,” said Montaña-Schalk. “I am very proud of every student I mentor. These students are my collaborators and friends and we, as a team, have accomplished so much.”

For information about SFA’s aquatic biology concentration, visit the Department of Biology website

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website