Skip to main content

SDSU CAFES Graduate Student Receives 2023 Joseph F. Nelson Graduate Scholarship

Hannah Mulligan
Hannah Mulligan, Joseph F. Nelson Graduate Scholarship Recipient

Hannah Mulligan of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, was recently awarded the 2023 Joseph F. Nelson Graduate Scholarship. Each year two graduate students at South Dakota State University receive the scholarship, and this year both individuals will receive $2,500 each.

The students selected have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, are pursuing a thesis option, and have successfully completed 15 credit hours of academic work towards one of the following sciences: Physics, Chemistry, Geography, Biology, Soil Science, Geology, Mathematics, or other Physical Sciences.

Mulligan attends Clemson University in Clemson, SC for her undergraduate degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. She has been pursuing a graduate degree at SDSU since August 2021 studying Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (M.S.) with a specialization in Fisheries Sciences.

Mulligan’s master’s research focuses on assessing the live bait trade as a human-mediated pathway for invasive species introductions in the Missouri River Basin (MRB), specifically by identifying risk factors associated with invasive species spread.

“Juvenile non-native species can appear similar to a lot of native baitfish species,” said Mulligan. “They could eventually end up in an angler’s bait bucket as unintentional bycatch when wild harvest occurs.”

Mulligan assessed the risk posed by the live bait trade in the MRB by evaluating the presence of 1) environmental DNA (eDNA) for invasive carps in baitfish water, 2) non-advertised species within bait purchases, and 3) invasive species educational signage in bait shops.

“Future implementable actions may include targeted educational campaigns, the adoption of bait surveillance programs, or additional live bait regulations following risk factor identification,” said Mulligan.

Dr. Alison Coulter, SDSU Assistant Professor of Fisheries Science in the Department of Natural Resource Management, is Mulligan’s graduate program advisor and serves as her research mentor and collaborator. Mulligan assists Coulter with designing and planning research, mentoring undergraduate research, and working collaboratively with others interested in invasive species management.

“Hannah has very much driven the development of her research questions based on her interests and career goals,” said Coulter. “Her research program, including her MS chapters and her side projects, will inform invasive species management at a regional and national level.”

Mulligan plans to use the scholarship funds to help pay for class fees and other professional development opportunities.

“I am extremely honored to receive the Joseph F. Nelson Scholarship award and I sincerely thank the Joseph F. Nelson Scholarship Committee for selecting me for this prestigious award. I would also like to thank the generous donors, and my advisor, Dr. Alison Coulter, for guiding and encouraging me during this project,” said Mulligan. “I am grateful for being recognized for my dedication and passion for this project and the fisheries sciences field. I would also like to thank my mentors, fellow graduate students, and family for supporting me in my endeavors. I am thrilled to receive this award and be a student at such an incredible and supportive college.”