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Michael L. Jones Fellowship

The Annual Michael L. Jones Fellowship Award

A joint award from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Canadian Studies Center, International Studies and Programs at Michigan State University


In recent years, an advisory board discussion in the Canadian Studies Center led to an opportunity to for a student fellowship at the State of Michigan’s Office of Great Lakes (OGL). With Professor Michael Jones taking the lead, a student from MSU’s Fisheries and Wildlife would assist the OGL policy-focused research.

Four years running, the fellowship has been competitive for students seeking off-campus experience before applying for career jobs. The OGL greatly benefitted and appreciated the arrangement, but due to timely administrative changes in 2018, the center approached The Nature Conservancy (TNC) about continuing the Fellowship. A tuition stipend of $1,000 split between Fisheries and Wildlife and the center goes to the student, and in return, the student spends at least one semester on research-focused work with TNC. Candidates for the fellowship interview with MSU’s Fisheries and Wildlife Faculty, TNC Regional Research Science Director Scott Sowa, and the CSC Director. Once the student selection is made, an MSU Fisheries and Wildlife Professor connects with the student to check on their semester experience. An Exit interview is conducted with the student, the center, FW and the TNC. 

Given Michael Jones’ advisory role to the center for many years, and dedication to ensuring a positive and beneficial student experience throughout his academic career, the Fellowship has come to be honorably named The Michael L. Jones Fellowship. 

It is in the highest regard that we entitle a student fellowship, The Michael L. Jones Fellowship Award.

Introduction to Professor Jones

As a former recipient of the Anderson-Everett Award for important and continued contributions to the International Association for Great Lakes Research, Dr. Jones has demonstrated a commitment to securing international education and research experiences for his colleagues, junior faculty, and students throughout his career at Michigan State University. Dr. Jones is the Peter A. Larkin Professor of Quantitative Fisheries and former Co-Director of the Quantitative Fisheries Center. In these roles, he has been the principal advisor to 24 graduate students and has mentored 13 research associates. He served as Chair of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (FW) from 2008 to 2014, during which time he helped to set up a partnership between FW, AgBio Research and Shanghai Ocean University. This program resulted in an ongoing knowledge exchange. Several undergraduate students from Shanghai Ocean University participated in FW programs and labs for a few summer months, and several faculty members traveled to Shanghai to teach short courses. He also built support for numerous study abroad programs within FW. Also as chair, he led a workshop on faculty leadership for Iraq scholars traveling from Duhok, Iraq to learn about MSU programs.

Dr. Jones has an impressive record of international scholarship related to the Laurentian Great Lakes. He has worked with the International Great Lakes Fishery Commission to improve both management of Great Lakes fisheries and international cooperation. Given the extent of his activities, a couple of examples are necessary. Dr. Jones has had profound influence on sea lamprey management in the Great Lakes. Sea lamprey have caused billions of dollars in economic damage to sport and commercial fisheries. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission oversees a budget of 10s of millions of dollars annually to assess and control sea lamprey. Dr. Jones’ research has put in place a system-based approach for making cost-effective investments in sea lamprey assessment and control. This has had a direct influence on how the coordinated US/Canada sea lamprey control program has been executed.

Additionally, Dr. Jones was instrumental in the formation of the Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group, an assembly of stakeholders that have been using Management Strategy Evaluation models to decide on management strategies for Lake Erie yellow perch and walleye since 2010. In 2014, the group came to a consensus decision on a new TAC-setting process for walleye, which has broken the cycle of lawsuits associated with this fishery. This achievement is extraordinary considering the long history of conflict among walleye fishing groups in the US and Canada. Dr. Jones’ international reputation as a fair mediator of science is clear from invitations to expert panels and continued funding for the Quantitative Fishery Center by both US and Canadian agencies.

A native of Canada, Dr. Jones’ contribution to the Canadian Studies Center is notable. His administrative expertise has supported the center’s development as a problem solver and cross border connector. To help students understand the policy and governance implications of their study area, he has helped to secure internships for students with the Office of Great Lakes and continues to seek opportunities in organizations where science and governance are key. In addition, Dr. Jones helped to secure an agreement with Simon Fraser University for many years which hosted a graduate research student during summer months. As a board member, he continues to advise the center and to advance MSU’s international presence. 

Since transitioning out of the role of chair of FW, Dr. Jones has had a partial appointment as Assistant Director of AgBio Research. One of his primary responsibilities has been to support the Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management (PERM), a unique collaboration between MSU and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). PERM links MSU’s scientific expertise with the most pressing issues related to conserving and managing Michigan’s natural resources. Dr. Jones has supported engagement between MSU scientists and these agencies, both domestic and international, and he has worked to ensure that concerns of the agencies are addressed.

Working effectively at the interface between MSU, MDNR, and GLFC demonstrates the level of trust that leaders in all three organizations have in Professor Jones. This comes from the respect that he initially developed while a PERM faculty member in FW conducting research for GLFC, and also from his commitment and ability to troubleshoot administrative issues that could impede engagement between MSU, MDNR, and GLFC. Finally, Dr. Jones’ effectiveness in this role comes from his vision for advancing agency interests through PERM, ensuring that the partnership strengthens into the future and that the work of MSU scientists meets the needs of important stakeholders, regardless of borders.

It is our intention to lay out the well regarded dedication, interests and accomplishments of Professor Jones in hopes that it might enlighten the decision of which student might best serve in the Fellowship presented in his name.

Terms of the Scholarship

  • The scholarship is offered annually.
  • A call for letters of interest and a resume or CV is extended to Fisheries and Wildlife students in September. Faculty may invite specific students to apply. At least one faculty reference is requested, but not required. (Applications are accepted from September 1 through October 1 and must be submitted by email to CSC(at)MSU.EDU with the subject reading Michael L. Jones Fellowship Award.)
  • Who should apply? Junior and Senior Fisheries and Wildlife students in good academic standing are invited to apply.
  • Interviews are held no later than early November.
  • Announcement of the fellowship award is made either prior to the Thanksgiving break or during the first week in December, prior to the holiday break.
  • A meeting with The Nature Conservancy (Scott Sowa or Doug Pearsall) will take place prior to the holiday break to set a working arrangement. Should the arrangement with TNC be suspended for some reason, an alternative agency will be selected.
  • The tuition stipend will be forwarded for the Spring Semester and will be split 50/50 between the Canadian Studies Center and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
  • Time working in the fellowship may be in the Spring or in the Summer semester.
  • An exit interview with the selected student will be accompanied by a letter submitted by them to each of the participating sponsors of the internship. The letter or report will outline their experience, work achievements, knowledge gained, and recommendations for furthering the fellowship experience.

Any questions regarding The Michael L. Jones Fellowship Award may be directed to the Canadian Studies Center or the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University.