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Top 10 Under 40
Top 10 Under 40: Travis May
December 2, 2022 By Jean Ko Din
Travis May remembers his early days as an Environmental Science intern at the Freshwater Institute fondly.
“I knew nothing about land-based aquaculture at the time but was willing to work hard and wasn’t bothered if I showed up to class dripping wet or covered in fish slime,” he said. “I spent a year working with John Davidson, who taught me the foundations of fish culture. When my internship ended, I knew land-based aquaculture was the industry I wanted to work in.”
May, 35, is the aquaculture production manager at the Freshwater Institute (FI) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia in the United States. He manages a team that maintains the operation of many aquaculture systems at FI, including flow-through, partial reuse and full recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). He works with the scientists to ensure that fish are growing years in advance of timed projects and that tanks are available for all life stages.
“The most challenging part is foreseeing the unforeseeable,” said May. “You need to make sure everything is optimized and there are emergency systems in place for when something unexpected happens, because there are so many factors at play. Animal lives are at risk, and they can only depend on you.”
Beyond supporting the research within FI, May has also demonstrated great leadership in his community. Because he oversees the facility’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point program, which ensures that harvested fish are safe for human consumption, May has spear-headed numerous fish donations to charitable organizations that feed people in need. Through his efforts, thousands of pounds of Atlantic salmon have been donated to feeding programs including DC Central Kitchen and the Mountaineer Food Bank.
“Travis’ fish husbandry experience, work ethic and leadership are matched by his down-to-earth nature, positive attitude, and can-do outlook amidst our challenging work environment,” said Chris Good, FI director of research. “In leading aquaculture production at our institute, Travis and his team form the backbone of our successful research program.”
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