David Weyers joined the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) as a large river ecologist on June 1st. Prior to joining INHS, He earned his B.S. environmental biology from Greenville College and his Master's degree in biology from Saint Louis University where he focused on invasion and community ecology, studying the effects of the invasive plant, Erodium cicutarium on a native plant community near Portal, AZ. During his summers in college, he worked as a technician, spending two summers at the Illinois River Biological Station in Havana, IL, and one at the Big Rivers and Wetlands Field Station in Cape Girardeau, MO. After completing his graduate degree he worked for two years as a technician at the Great Rivers Field Station in Alton, IL and one year as a technician with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi, CA, primarily sampling for Chinook salmon and endangered Delta smelt.
What is your background before coming to work at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS)?
Being an aquatic ecology technician for INHS was actually one of my first jobs. I have been a technician for INHS at both the Illinois River Biological Station and the Great Rivers Field Station as well as for the Missouri Department of Conservation at the Big Rivers and Wetlands Field Station and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi, CA.
What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at INHS?
I am excited to continue learning about the Mississippi River and the fish communities in it.
How old were you when you first became interested in science?
I have been interested in science and nature since before I can remember; I think it is largely due to my father being a Jr high earth science teacher and outdoorsman. I grew up going hunting and fishing with my father and siblings as well as playing in the woods while my dad cut wood for our furnace.
Who or what drew you to study environmental biology?
I grew up fishing, canoeing, and loving spending time on the water, so early in college when I learned about freshwater fish biologist and river ecologist jobs, I applied to be an aquatic ecology technician at the Illinois River Biological Station at the first chance I got!
What question do you get asked most frequently about your work?
It is a lot of fun talking to people about my position and I never know what people are going to ask me. I frequently get asked about invasive carp -- or copi --, or I get asked what kind of fish a person caught, but I have also recently been asked what foods other than fish contain vitamin B12 and if I have ever caught a shark in the Mississippi River!
What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Fisheries seems to be a competitive field, so it has been challenging to be patient while applying for, and not getting so many jobs.
What do you wish more people understood about science or being a scientist?
Science is such a large, broad field and I am only an expert in a few very specific topics.
What advice would you give to future scientists?
Find something you are passionate about and learn all about it. Ask a professional if you can job shadow them and pick their brain or apply for internships to see if a job you are working towards really is what you had imagined.