Rachel Mair of Virginia Beach, a graduate student in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, recently received the first-ever Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mair is a biologist at the agency's White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery.

The award recognizes service employees who demonstrate superior scientific involvement and application to achieve extraordinary results in fish and wildlife conservation. Mair was recognized for her work developing successful culture systems and feeding regimes for the culture and propagation of endangered freshwater mussels. She successfully cultured the endangered northern riffleshell, spiny mussel, and oyster mussel.

Mair received the award, named in honor of renowned ecologist Rachel Carson, author of the groundbreaking book Silent Spring, from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall at a ceremony at the Natural Resources Conservation Service facility in Shepherdstown, W. Va. The White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery will also receive $50,000 in additional operational funds for mussel research in acknowledgement of Rachel’s achievements.

Mair, who received her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in 2000, is currently working towards her master of science degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences. After finishing her degree, she says she plans to continue working for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in White Sulphur Springs. “I would also like to continue my research on the advancement of freshwater mussel propagation technology,” explains Mair.

See the related story in the Virginia Tech Research magazine: “To save our streams, save our mussels ... to save the mussels, save the streams.”