Jesse Williams joined the Illinois Natural History Survey Illinois River Biological Station as a large river fisheries ecologist in May 2019.
Jesse completed his undergraduate and master’s work at Western Illinois University in biology. He began working with fish as an undergraduate student under Dr. Jim Lamer at WIU and continued researching young-of-year bigheaded carp in the Mississippi River for his master’s. He studied early life history of bigheaded carp and performed otolith isotopic microchemistry in response to the expansion of bigheaded carp above Lock and Dam 19 on the Mississippi River.
What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at INHS?
I am looking forward to studying black carp on the Illinois River and being able to sample shallow backwaters as an extension to the current Long-Term Resource Monitoring efforts. I am also looking forward to providing valuable research to the scientific field and the INHS.
What do you wish more people understood about your field of science?
I wish more people understood the threat that can be imposed by using nonnative species around and in the river systems.
How old were you when you first became interested in science? What sparked your interest?
I have always been interested in science as I grew up showing livestock in 4-H and always loved animals. Becoming a fisheries technician really sparked my interest into the fisheries world as I had found that you can research and work with rivers and fish all the time.
My master’s advisor first sparked my interest into studying bigheaded carp and invasive species, and this passion quickly spread as I loved seeing and handling larger bodied fish and helping manage invasive species.
What advice would you give to future scientists?
I advise future scientists to gain as much knowledge as they can and broaden their horizons on all sorts of methods, gears, techniques and fish identifications (or similar concepts to their field of interest).