CORVALLIS, Ore. – Carl Schreck, an Oregon State University scientist acknowledged as one of the leading salmon researchers in the country, has been named the recipient of a Meritorious Presidential Rank Award. He will be presented the award at the White House in April.
Schreck, who is employed by the U.S. Geological Survey, leads the Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at OSU.
“His contributions to fisheries science are unparalleled,” said Dan Edge, head of the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and a member of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. “He helped pioneer the use of genetics in managing fish species and his research into physiological stress on fish has led not only to better scientific understanding, but new management practices.”
For the past 35 years Schreck, who is a professor in the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, has been studying the biology of fishes. He developed a “performance concept” of stress in fish that outlines how genetics dictate fish response to environment stressors including contaminants, water temperature, and oxygen levels. He also was one of the first researchers to link stress from environmental conditions to decreases in fishes’ reproductive success. Poor habitat conditions – whether in hatcheries or in the wild – include low water quality, over-crowding and poor nutrients.
His studies of juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River, using miniature radio tags, helped identify terns and gulls as surprisingly voracious predators of the smolts.
“Carl was the first to identify the gullet of terns and other sea birds as a biological black hole for young salmon produced with public dollars,” Edge said.
Schreck’s research also led to new understanding of how juvenile salmon use large and small estuaries to prepare for their life in the ocean – using the estuaries to grow and improve their ability to survive.
His studies of stress in fish have led to numerous new management practices in hatcheries – including handling techniques that minimize the use of chemicals and hormones. Schreck developed educational and training programs for applying these techniques, and spearheaded a campaign to disseminate the information to developing countries.
An OSU faculty member since 1975, Schreck is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. He has master’s and doctoral degrees from Colorado State University in fisheries science and physiology.
Schreck has served as major professor for more than 70 graduate students at OSU, and hosted 14 post-doctoral fellows from the United States, Japan, Norway, France and Canada. He also has mentored several Native American graduate students and supported a creative project to provide paid summer internships for 10-12 tribal high school students to attend summer classes at OSU.
Despite his schedule, Schreck volunteers to teach science at the K-12 level at local schools.
“Carl is deserving of every accolade he receives,” Edge pointed out. “He is an inspiration to our students – and to our faculty.”
Schreck, who has written three books, 250 scientific articles and several hundred outreach publications, received a Meritorious Service Award from the Secretary of the Interior in 2003. He was named Educator of the year in 2000 by the American Fisheries Society, and has received numerous other honors.
The Meritorious Presidential Rank Award is given to a handful of senior executives and leaders by the president each year.