Ganesh Karunakaran, a Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station aquaculture economist and associate research professor, receives the prestigious Distinguished Early Career Award from the American Aquaculture Society, a chapter of the World Aquaculture Society. It is based at MSU’s Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center.
WAS is a global professional organization dedicated to the exchange of information and networking between the various groups interested in advancing the aquaculture industry. The Distinguished Early Career Award recognizes an individual who has been involved in US aquaculture for 10 years or less. The award recognizes outstanding leadership or innovation in research, education, extension, or industry development in the field. Specifically, it emphasizes the significant personal contributions made to advancing aquaculture in the United States.
“Aquaculture is not just my job – it’s‘It’s my passion – and it’s a great honor to receive this award,” said Karunakaran. “I feel humbled and surprised, but I’m also encouraged to be on the right path in my career.”
Karunakaran has worked at MSU since 2016 and was recently promoted to associate professor. He has worked in aquaculture, including his graduate studies, since 2005. His research focuses on economics and marketing in the US catfish industry, working on behalf of farmers and stakeholders.
Last year, he and his research team received a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.‘s Sea Grant College program to establish national economic parameters for the aquaculture industry in the United States. Karunakaran is also part of several extramural grants to study problems faced by the US catfish industry.
Karunakaran noted that the US Aquaculture Society is over 50 years old and is the premier professional association in the United States for researchers and producers.
“Producers are an important component of WAS and USAS. I am fortunate to be part of a land-grant university whose mission is to improve stakeholder well-being. Working to find practical solutions for producers gives me immense gratitude. Agricultural problems are complex, multifaceted and often difficult to formulate in a research setting,” he said.
Karunakaran thanks two stalwarts of aquaculture research, MSU Emeritus Research Professor Craig Tucker, who was the research director of the USDA’s Warm Water Aquaculture Research Unit at Stoneville, and retired professor of Carole Engle Aquaculture Economics and Marketing at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He also thanks the Catfish Farmers of America, growers and peers who nominated him for this award. He said he is grateful to work with productive graduate students and humbly credits his shared successes with his peers and his research team, including his wife, Suja Aarattuthodi, who is also a faculty member at MSU.
“I was lucky to be chosen and I’m lucky to be part of a great research team,” he said.