Penn State wildlife and fisheries science senior shines as presenter at meeting

Kelly Jedrzejewski
April 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Ben Kline, a wildlife and fisheries science major in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was celebrated for giving an informative and engaging presentation at a professional conference. 

In February, Kline, a senior from Middleburg, gave a talk at the annual meeting of the Virginia/West Virginia Chapters of the American Fisheries Society, a professional organization for fisheries scientists across the United States. His lecture on clinch dace, a federally listed fish species of high conservation concern, received the award for “Best Talk” at the conference.

On the heels of that award, Kline won the Cooper Award from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society. The Cooper Award was created to honor the memory of Penn State Professor Emeritus of Zoology Edwin Lavern Cooper, author of "Fishes of Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States."

Every year, most state chapters hold a meeting, and in Pennsylvania the Cooper Award is presented to an exemplary undergraduate or graduate student involved in research. Travel funds associated with the honor allow the student to attend the meeting and present his or her research.

“The award recognizes students who have contributed beneficial research to our field, but also recognizes journalistic style,” Kline said. “The research honored makes a contribution to fisheries science, but also shows that the student is able to communicate the research to a broader audience.”

Ben Kline gives best talk

Ben Kline, a wildlife and fisheries science major in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was lauded for giving the “Best Talk” at the annual meeting of the Virginia/West Virginia Chapters of the American Fisheries Society.

IMAGE: Ben Kline

Kline, who will be graduating next month, plans to attend graduate school at Idaho State University to pursue a master’s degree in biology while studying trout diversity. He said the education, faculty support and research opportunities he received at Penn State influenced his decision to continue his studies.

As an undergraduate research assistant, Kline has been working in the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit on campus. Under Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology, co-leader of the unit, Kline has been studying streams and cold-water fisheries, which coincide with his broad interest in fish conservation. Kline’s research on brook trout in Wagner’s lab is what helped him win the Cooper Award.

“Brook trout are Pennsylvania’s only native salmonid and a fish not only of high conservation concern, but also one of socioeconomic value,” Kline said. “We did some work looking at how climate change may affect brook trout behavior. I’ve also been doing research looking at where fish are distributed as a community.”

When he’s not in the lab, Kline is heavily involved in community service on campus. As a former Eagle Scout, he works with local organizations that have environmental missions as well as other organizations that help foster a more positive image of the State College community.

Kline is the president of the Council of Lionhearts, a league of community service organizations that work together around Penn State to provide service opportunities to students. He is also a part of Circle K, another service organization that is closely associated with the State College Kiwanis Club, which aims to provide charitable assistance to the community through programs that benefit children and youth.

“My time in scouting is really what drove me to become more dedicated to community service," he said. "I also have a personal interest in science education and outreach, and I think that service is an awesome interface for me to meet those two objectives. I can do what I love to do, and it benefits the community.”

Kline advises his fellow students to be persistent when it comes to pursuing research opportunities. “Penn State’s size means there are lots of opportunities, but the size of the University also can make pursuing these prospects intimidating,” he said, adding that networking with professors and volunteering are good pathways.

“The resources Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has supplied, through funding and stellar faculty and advisers that we have access to, is unmatched,” Kline said. “Being a part of an institution that’s so well known for its research and getting to see that first hand has helped me appreciate my research experience here."

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 21, 2019