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Man on a boat with a green life jacket, sunglasses and a white hat holding a fish.

Nick Sanderson

Mighty Oak Monday: Nick Sanderson

Major: Aquatics and Fisheries Science
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Class of ’24

Nick Sanderson has always loved fish. In fact, he chose ESF because it was one of the few schools where he could follow his passion for fishery science. “The fact that it was specialized really appealed to me,” he says. “The culture being so niche with environmental fields was a big deciding factor.” Now he’s president of ESF’s bass fishing team and is conducting undergraduate research on bass, which he hopes to continue as a graduate student at ESF.

Nick’s undergraduate research began with a summer internship on the Onondaga Lake Biomonitoring project, where he monitored the health of the recovering lake sturgeon population, conducted fish community analysis, and monitored contamination levels within fish. To make the internship count as a field experience credit, Nick had to develop it into a project. Given his passion for bass fishing, he decided to focus on bass fishing tournaments.

Nick asserts that current practices at bass fishing tournaments create problems for the individual fish, as well as the ecosystem in general. “When anglers catch a fish, they store it on the boat, then bring it back to the launch site to be weighed and released. At that point, you’re looking at the displacement of thousands of apex predators all being released in one location,” he explains. “Additionally, bass don’t typically deviate from their home range. If they can’t find their way back, they never really establish, so you’re transitioning to a population that is far more nomadic than it should be.”

Nick ultimately hopes to influence the fishing industry in a positive way and continue his research on the side by getting a job as conversation director for a major bass fishing tournament organization or top-line fishing company.

Nick’s scholarship directly supports his passion and his dream: the funds help him purchase equipment for his research. “There are very few grants available for undergraduate research, so this has been an essential resource for me. I cannot express the depth of my gratitude to you for financing a project that has given my education a greater purpose and allows me to work on precisely what I am passionate about. Thank you!”

Learn more about ESF’s Aquatics and Fisheries Science program.