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Where are They Now?

Dave Caroffino

Dave Caroffino

Keeping Track of Former Sea Grant-funded Graduate Students
From: Dave Caroffino

To: MN Sea Grant
Subject: Address Change

I wanted to let you know that I've recently moved from Alaska to take a position with the Michigan DNR...


Talk about living the dream!

When Caroffino was 12, he set his sights on becoming a fisheries biologist in his home state of Michigan. Several months ago, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources lured Caroffino from his academic pursuits in Fairbanks, Alaska, to their fisheries research station in Charlevoix, where "the million-dollar sunsets over Lake Michigan are rivaled only by the moonrises over Round Lake," according to the city's chamber of commerce. As he settled in, he took a moment to shoot us an e-mail and then took a few more moments to answer our questions.

Which Sea Grant researcher did you work with as a graduate student and what did you work on?

I worked with Anne Kapuscinski and Loren Miller, both University of Minnesota department of fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology faculty, and in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Our research evaluated the effectiveness of stocking steelhead fry into a tributary of Lake Superior. In addition to monitoring this population enhancement strategy, we were able to evaluate the impacts that hatcheries can have on the fitness of stocked fish.

What do you do now?

I work in the Michigan Department of Natural Resourcesí Tribal Coordination Unit and am responsible for ensuring that the state complies with the terms of the 2000 Consent Decree, which is a settlement involving the state of Michigan, the federal government, and five Native American Tribes. This decree specifies how fish species will be managed and how harvest will be allocated in the 1836 Treaty-ceded waters of the Great Lakes. This position also allows me to complete the lake sturgeon research I began at Purdue.

(After earning a master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 2006, Caroffino pursued a dissertation focused on the early-life stages of lake sturgeon through Purdue University, Indiana, and then, when his advisor accepted a position in Fairbanks, through the University of Alaska.)

How did your graduate work prepare you for your current job?

While in Minnesota, I gained valuable experience interacting with both agency personnel and stakeholder groups. Stakeholders are passionate about issues that affect them, ranging from stocking and management strategies to allocation concerns and beyond. I learned that "fisheries manager" often might be more aptly termed, "people manager."

Why do you think Sea Grant is a worthwhile organization?

By focusing on communication, Sea Grant provides a forum that allows cooperation between the three-headed monster that is science, policy, and the public. Communication among these parties allows them to engage and learn from one another, which as Sea Grant recognizes, promotes a better understanding of our world and responsible use of our resources. Participating in this communication process is wonderful training for young scientists.

When you were in college, did you ever think you would be doing your current work?

I knew I would be working in the fisheries field, but I never thought I would be working with tribal issues. Coming from a more traditional academic background, I had no idea that a fisheries position could include such an amazing mix of science, policy, cooperation, and public involvement.

Keep living the dream, Dave, and thanks for writing to us!

By Sea Grant Staff
December 2008

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