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Director, VCU Rice Rivers Center
As director at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, Greg Garman, Ph.D., champions the philosophy of “the more, the merrier.”
“The best science is collaborative science,” said Garman.
Established in 2000, the VCU Rice Rivers Center is an environmental research and education center positioned on 494 acres along the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. “From day one, the primary mission has been to use this amazing location to enhance society’s ability to manage large river systems more effectively,” said Garman, who joined the VCU faculty in 1986 and supported the acquisition and growth of the center.
On his role as director, “I do what I can to expand and promote the research mission,” he said, “ranging from trying to find money to buy new equipment to helping with fundraising to making sure we have the appropriate infrastructure.”
All of that effort ensures the center attracts world-class scientists from other institutions and agencies, who work alongside VCU researchers and graduate students on cutting-edge environmental research to advance the science essential to the search for sustainable balance between the natural environment and human activity. They study everything from watersheds and wetlands to migratory birds and fisheries.
“It’s research that matters,” Garman explained, “because it can be translated into more effective environmental policies.”
A geology major turned fish ecologist, Garman is personally interested in how fish communities interact with their environment, notably the exploited populations including Atlantic sturgeon and American shad that have been fished into decline but have commercial value or angling appeal.
His work appeals to management agencies that have the authority to determine how much effort can be exerted on the stock by setting catch quotas and harvest limits. “The agencies are trying to balance loss from harvest to the population of fish,” Garman said.
He and his graduate students provide them with the biological side of the human-fish interaction. “We might describe individual numbers, size distribution, age of reproduction, how long fish live, how fish move around,” he said.
In a nutshell, the research gives agencies a basis for management and policy decisions.
“You can’t manage what you don’t understand,” Garman said. “My research helps restore and recover those aquatic systems so they can be a resource again.”