February 11, 2004

Cortney Ohs lends expertise to aquaculture industry

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Cortney L. Ohs, a young scientist who is already beginning to make a name for himself as a researcher who knows a lot about freshwater prawns, has joined Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

"We wanted someone who could do research in response to the needs of the industry, who could provide aquaculture technical assistance in the region and who could secure grants," said Susan T. Kohler, associate director of SIUC's Office of Economic and Regional Development and director of Community and Business Services, which advises area fish and prawn farmers.

Daniel A. Selock, an SIUC researcher who has provided the bulk of the hands-on aquaculture assistance to date, said the hire was "a natural."

"People in our industry here in Illinois had already heard about him because he has a prawn Web site they'd visited," Selock said.

"We're hoping his knowledge will help our farmers lower their costs of production."

Ohs, who came to SIUC in September from Mississippi State University where he earned both master's and doctoral degrees, said his research there focused on such topics as evaluating the effects of stocking size and density on production, alternative methods of harvesting, artificial diets and nursery culture.

"It was geared toward using management strategies to maximize production and minimize expenses," Ohs said.

"I would like to gear my research here to answer questions Illinois producers may have. The animals are the same (as they are in Mississippi), but feeding and stocking techniques are different."

Since his arrival in September, Ohs has worked with the Shawnee Prawn Producers helping with technical questions and marketing, put together some distance-learning classes on aquaculture, applied for grants related to toxicology and pollutants, and filled in as a lecturer for classes taught through the SIUC Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center.

"His area of specialization is freshwater prawns, which is a major interest for people in this area," said Christopher C. Kohler, who heads the aquaculture center.

"We anticipate he will do research in this area as well, so his presence brings another investigator (a scholar who applies for and obtains research grants) into our fold."

In addition to his personal Web site athttp://www2.msstate.edu/%7eclo1/prawn/index.html ("Still on the Mississippi State server," he said apologetically), Ohs also created and maintains the site for the United States Freshwater Prawn and Shrimp Growers Association athttp://freshwaterprawn.org. Both contain a shipload of information on prawns (the latter with recipes!).