M.S. and/or Ph.D. Assistantships

Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences aquaponics research team was recently awarded a grant through USDA-NIFA’s National Needs Graduate Fellowship’s program. The project is entitled “Aquaponics – A Sustainable Way Forward.”  Prior to this grant, a USDA-NIFA grant “Improving Aquaculture’s Value Through Enhanced Nutrient Management” was received, which has provided a strong foundation for aquaponic research and development in many interrelated disciplines at AU. We are currently seeking applicants for two Master of Science and/or one Doctoral students from highly motivated students with a Batchelor’s or Master’s degree in aquaculture, agri-aquacultural economics or a closely related field, who are interested in aquaponics. NOTE: to be eligible the individual must be a citizen or national of the United States of America. Students with backgrounds in these disciplinary sciences who are interested in greenhouse fish, vegetable production, nutrient-water management, biofuel/product development, food safety and/or economics/business planning via aquaponics are encouraged to apply. We are looking for people who have strong academic interests in these disciplines as well as applicable skills. Two successful applicants will be awarded a 2-year Master of Science assistantship ($18,500 per year stipend) and/or a 3-year Ph.D. assistantship ($24,000 per year stipend) plus tuition waivers for each assistantship. There will be additional M.S. students recruited for the areas of horticulture, agricultural engineering and food microbiology to complete this NNF team effort. Read our NNF project summary below. The successful applicants will complete a thesis or dissertation on basic or applied research projects focused on aquaponic systems.  Interested students should send a cover letter of interest, CV and three references to Dr. Terry Hanson (hansontr@auburn.edu) or Dr. Jesse Chappell (chappj1@auburn.edu) by April 15, 2018.

NNF-AU Project Summary: Aquaponics – A Sustainable Way Forward

Interest in aquaponics is soaring, but most operations are small-scale. Aquaponics shows great promise to increase the food supply, but there are few people with the knowledge and skill sets necessary to work in aquaponics, and there are challenges to solve before industrial-scale aquaponics is viable. The long-term goal of this project is to develop a number of revenue-generating production processes from the initial fish feed input required for aquaculture. The supporting objectives for this project are: 1) Evaluate the economic costs and savings from a sustainable, high-yield aquaponics system integrating fish, plant, and anaerobic/fermentation processes; 2) select candidate processes for fish production, plant production, algae production, waste management and treatment, and water management and treatment; 3) optimize linkages for all processes; and 4) validate food safety practices in combined fish and vegetable production to establish Good Agricultural Practices for aquaponics. The selected Fellows will develop critical-thinking skills helping to solve some of the challenges, and upon graduation will have the knowledge to work in industry. Fellows will do hands-on work during two summers in an Experiential Boot Camp at a commercial-scale aquaponics system, do academic work in relevant disciplines, and take team-taught seminar courses at Auburn University College of Agriculture.  Research topics will be developed for each M.S. and Ph.D. student.