Spoiler alert: Guy Eroh loves fish and fishing. Thanks to UGA, he’s been able to pursue that passion around the globe and is committed to fostering fish appreciation and to developing strategic fish and fishery management strategies. He’s also won some major scholarships along the way.
Academy for Math, Engineering and Science / Park City High School / Riverdale High School
I currently do not have regular employment. Over the past summer I worked as an intern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska.
B.S. Ecology, M.S. Forest Resources (Fisheries)
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I was drawn to UGA in large part by the Foundation Fellowship and have to acknowledge that many of the opportunities I have had during my time here have come about, directly or indirectly, as a result of the support I have received from this program.
As a freshman I had the opportunity to talk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As it turns out, he is an RV enthusiast and once stayed only about 5 miles from my childhood home. It was a great conversation that I got to sign off with a pound-hug, which was amazing.
After freshman year I participated in a biomedical ethics Maymester course with UGA’s Oxford program. I was able to take some side trips while studying in England as well. A friend and I went to Wales one very long day. On another occasion, I went with a couple of people to see the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake in Gloucester. I intend to return someday to redeem myself in the uphill competition.
After Oxford I worked for a month with the English Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. It was interesting to see how this government agency, involved with many EU projects, functioned and how it reacted to the Brexit vote that happened during my time there. After working for CEFAS I finished up my time in Europe with a fishing road trip through Scandinavia. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the midnight sun. I was able to target several new species and landed a native brown trout above 71° N.
In 2016, it continued to be a year of international travel as, after returning from Europe, I was able to study in Costa Rica for the fall semester at UGA’s satellite campus in Monteverde. This was a great opportunity to learn firsthand about tropical biology and ecology. There were only 10 students on the trip, so we all got to know each other and our professors very well. I was able to participate as a torch-runner during the community’s Independence Day celebration, which was something I never would’ve imagined I’d do.
For spring break, 2017, I was fortunate to be able to go on Safari in Tanzania. Even though we weren’t able to check out any cichlids, it was amazing to see so many large mammals all in one place.
During the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I interned with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for its northern regional office’s aquatics section. I gained valuable experience working with a wide variety of species and learned many fisheries techniques that will be invaluable as I continue my career. I also had plenty of opportunities to go fishing in my downtime and completed two Utah Cutthroat Slams, one on flies and one on Panther Martins.
This past summer I was working as a fisheries fellow with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska. While working with USFWS I primarily focused on projects associated with fish identification with an emphasis on juvenile salmon. I also had the opportunity to do some work on projects studying how tributary streams may provide thermal refugia for fish and how culverts may impact the ability of fish to migrate within a stream.
Throughout my career at UGA I have been able to interact with many interesting people, take intriguing classes and perform fulfilling research. I have had the privilege to be a part of several clubs on campus including 5 Rivers, Ocean Initiative, the Club Cross Country Team and the Student Subunit of the American Fisheries Society. I have worked on research projects that have studied hypopigmentation in Southern Right Whales, hybridization in black bass species and the efficacy of paracide treatment regimens on hatch success of walleye embryos. This last project is the subject of my master’s thesis, which I have been fortunate to start while still an undergraduate.
Since attending the University of Georgia I have been the recipient of a UGA Foundation Fellowship, a Stamps Scholarship, a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Wildlife Leadership Award, a Goldwater Scholarship and a Udall Scholarship. I am looking forward to the rest of my time at UGA.
I chose to attend UGA because …
I always planned on attending a large research-oriented university that would provide me with the resources to get a strong start in science. UGA provided that environment along with well-respected fisheries and ecology programs and all the additional perks detailed above. It is a bonus that Georgia is home to some of the greatest freshwater fish diversity in the temperate world.
My favorite things to do on campus are …
I enjoy throwing tennis balls against the walls on top of empty parking garages or hitting them with a bat behind Lake Herrick. When I lived on campus I liked watching the movies in the Tate Center, but I don’t have as much time to take advantage of that now as I did then.
When I have free time, I like …
I try to put energy into distance running when I can, but haven’t been able to do the kind of training that I would like to in a long time. I’ve done a few marathons and halves, though. I’ve been working on playing the mandolin for the past couple of years. When it gets dark out I enjoy watching movies. Of course, I like to get out and go fishing whenever I can and take great pride in catching fish on flies I’ve tied myself.
The craziest thing I’ve done is …
I have never done anything crazy, but even if I had it wouldn’t end up here. You never know who will end up reading this. Of course, I’ve done some things simply to prove that I could (e.g. running 25 miles into school, drinking gallons of water with dinner, etc.), but I don’t think anybody would certify that to be crazy. I did an 8-mile run around Athens once, eating at seven different chicken franchises along the way, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. I want to try noodling catfish at some point.
My favorite place to study is …
I usually study in my room, unless reading is involved – in which case nothing beats a low-traffic stairwell.
My favorite professor is …
This is a tough question. As I would imagine most people say, I’ve had so many great professors and it is hard to pick just one. It’s also hard to separate a professor from the course they teach. At the end of the day, I’m going to go with Dr. Bud Freeman. I took his Ichthyology class my first semester and loved his passion for fish. I also had the opportunity to work in his lab and to get to know him outside of class. I’m going to stick true to the question and leave it at just one person and cross my fingers that my other professors and mentors do not feel slighted.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with …
This answer could go at least two ways. If we are talking about spending an afternoon with somebody I would be otherwise unlikely to, I might say somebody like Ed Abbey, Frank Zappa, Jacques Cousteau or George Carlin. If, on the other hand, we are assuming that I have a single afternoon, period, I would be spending it with my family.
If I knew I could not fail, I would …
I would go into the wilderness and build a new life from the ground up with nothing but my hands and raw materials. Given that I cannot fail, I would survive and I could be proud of it. Once the goal of pure and unadulterated self-sufficiency is achieved I would start to interact with polite society again. Eremitism is not the dream. However, having definitive proof that I could exist independent of help from others would provide me with unparalleled peace of mind.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to …
I’d do a couple of things. In general, I would like to raise the profile of fishes in the public’s eye. The fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrates in the world with a wide array of ecologies and morphologies. Often, this diversity, and fish in general, go unnoticed and underappreciated. I believe that this is due in no small part to their sub-aquatic lifestyle and think that if fish walked the land they would appreciate the same attention as any bird or mammal. If you do your reading, I must imagine you’ll find bluefin tuna to be as charismatic as any terrestrial megafauna. I would propose initiating a large-scale, long-running campaign to raise public awareness of fish. I’m not talking about a conservation campaign for specific species because you don’t want to push people away. I just want an opportunity to repeatedly show people who are too busy with life to hit their ichthyology books what cool stuff is out there in the world of fish! If I could do that I am certain that necessary conservation efforts would be greatly improved. For conservation to work it must have widespread public support and that will never happen without an understanding and appreciation for the resource. To foster this appreciation, education and exposure to fish are key.
On a more personal note, with unlimited funds I would also pursue my own passion for fish and for angling. With over 30,000 species of fishes worldwide I cannot hope to catch one of each, but I surely want to get as many as I can. I have been keeping track of each fish I have caught since at least high school and am always eager to add a new row to my spreadsheet. While there are plenty of domestic species that continue to elude me, I usually fantasize about those fish off in the remote corners of the world. I have a strong desire to incorporate more adventure into my life and to explore new territory that I haven’t been able to seek out due to financial constraints and scholarly obligations. I would love to push myself into rugged country for the pursuit of fish. Arapaima, dorado (both fresh- and salt-water), mahseer, wels and tarpon are some of the big ones, but I also want to hit all the recognized North American subspecies of trout and salmon.
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
If you haven’t picked up on the hints I have left peppered throughout my responses above, I’ll let you in on a well-guarded secret about myself: I like fish. I’ve been fishing for longer than I could possibly remember and my passion for the sport of angling and the animals I pursue has only grown with time. The more I learn about fish, the more they fascinate me. I’ve already touched on fish diversity, but I’d like to bring it up again because, if I get burned out working with one taxon there are so many others, so different from one another, that there is always something exciting to study. To finish answering the question, I intend to commit my life to fostering fish appreciation around the globe, to researching fish and fish management and to developing strategic fish and fishery management and conservation strategies.
After graduation, I plan to …
It’s too early to tell. Whether it’s keeping my options open, living in the moment or procrastinating, I don’t typically think that far ahead. The general plan starts with graduating from UGA (per the question) and ends with me developing a career that is both fulfilling and capable of supporting me financially, while also incorporating fisheries science and management. In between those points there will be some mix of events that will probably include working less-than-permanent jobs and going to graduate school.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
This one time I was playing around in the tunnels when my friend and I found a spawning bluehead chub. He had a full head of tubercles and was guarding a large nest built right in the shadow of Sanford Stadium by the Tate deck. There was a mass of yellowfin shiners, all colored up, doing their dances. The coolest part about this was that it happened in October – and both fishes are spring spawners. There was something weird that triggered those physiological and behavioral changes and I doubt I’ll ever know what it was.