You wouldn’t think that an island laboratory would be where someone interested in government policy would find their calling, but you haven’t met Harrison Fried. Harrison first went to Stone Lab to improve his fish knowledge and get some applied education with an aquatic biology class, but he found that studying up on Lake Erie gave him so much more than class credit.
He returned to the island a year later as part of Stone Lab’s donor-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program, where a student works with a professor to design and conduct their own research. Harrison tested what effect harmful algal blooms (HABs) and sedimentation in Lake Erie are having on the fish that call the lake home. Much of the research surrounding HABs is concerning the toxins they produce, and, while important, it is far from the blooms’ only effect. He was specifically curious how turbidity, in other words, the cloudiness or haziness of the water, affects fishes’ swimming ability.
For Harrison, the REU program was an opportunity like no other. “It covered all costs associated with staying on the island, including tuition, room and board, which allowed me to focus on my classes and research. It was hard, but rewarding, work,” he said, remembering the 8 a.m. boat ride each morning to conduct his research. “I was amazed at all of the resources I had access to on the island, from professors and peers to the local charter captains; there were always people around with strong knowledge of the lake.”
How does this all fit into policy work? Harrison is pursuing a career in environmental policy with a focus on L ake Erie management. Environmental regulations help protect Ohio’s natural resources, and the best way to create good policy is with a strong knowledge base of what’s being regulated. Harrison formed that base at Stone Lab, along with strong connections with scientists that will carry into his career and help inform policy decisions.
Stone Lab helped Harrison jump-start his career and delve deep into his interests. “I learned much more at Stone Lab than I have throughout all of college,” he said. “I couldn’t have gotten that in Columbus.”
Harrison’s next step is graduate school at Ohio State and then possibly law school. He plans to use the expertise he got from Stone Lab to bridge the gap between science and law, ensuring that environmental policies are scientifically supported and sound.