Each week, SFRC highlights a fantastic student or alumnus for #FeaturedStudentFriday. Today’s alum is Tim Lyons, who earned his MS in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences with SFRC in 2018. Tim now works as an IUCN Red List Officer for Aquatic Species at the New Mexico Biopark Society.
What’s the best thing about your current position?
The best thing about my current position is the ability to broadly affect conservation action at the regional scale. The IUCN Red List is often a driving force behind conservation planning and implementation, government involvement, and funding that can extend across the entire range of a species. I’m honored to be a part of those collaborative efforts that extend beyond geopolitical boundaries. At the end of the day, most people want to see extinction slow. It’s nice to be able to put aside personal agendas and take in the larger picture.
Was there any key thing that set you on the path towards SFRC?
I knew that I wanted to work with aquatic animals from an early age and gauged graduate programs based on their strengths in that discipline. As a land grant university, the University of Florida and SFRC play an integral role in aquatic industry and research within the state. My selection followed a natural and logical process given this involvement.
What drives you? Why is this important or significant to you personally?
Natural curiosity drives me in everything that I do. This has major significance in my personal and professional life because it constantly drives me out of my comfort zone. That is where I do my best learning and where I have had some of my favorite experiences. It also forces me to question everything going on around me and keeps me open to new interpretations.
What were your struggles to get where you are today?
Graduate school certainly had its highs and lows. For me, the greatest personal struggle was managing my time effectively to get everything done. I find a lot of things interesting, try to keep way too many hobbies, and often want to spend more time on each subject than is possible.
What advice would you give to a younger you?
Keep your eyes open to opportunities that will result in your personal and professional development. In this field, you can’t succeed by doing the bare minimum. So many of the skills that SFRC teaches are learned by experience and what you take away from your program is entirely a personal decision. Don’t be afraid to get out into the field and get your hands dirty. Help out with other projects that you know less about. Above all, enjoy your work and appreciate the learning process.
Do you have any favorite memory of your time at SFRC?
No specific memory comes to mind, but my time at SFRC is peppered with good experiences. Field work in Florida waters, conferences, and time spent with my advisors and peers were all memorable. The Tropical Aquaculture Lab operates like an extended family that I’m happy to be a part of.
Are you working on anything exciting you’d like to share?
Right now, my efforts are focused on Mexican and Central American freshwater fishes. Hopefully by the end of this year we will have all of them published to the Red List of Threatened Species. Some of these biodiversity hotspots are in desperate need of conservation intervention. This will be the first concerted effort to inform and drive that change so that unnecessary, human-induced extinctions can be prevented.