Hometown: Savannah, Ga.
Class of 2011
After a two-week drive across the nation, camping at various national parks along the way, Armstrong alum and biology major Michael Baran finally arrived in Oregon. There, he began his training as a groundfish observer for Alaskan Observers, Inc.
“It’s definitely quite a switch for me having spent my entire life in the Southeast,” Baran said.
Groundfish observers are responsible for monitoring and documenting the catch aboard fishing vessels. Alaskan Observers, Inc. only chooses college graduates with strong scientific backgrounds, bolstering that education with intensive training and in-field support.
“The position allows me to incorporate my love for the water with my passion for science,” he said. “Duties as a groundfish observer require me to know, down to the species level, all fish in a given Pacific fishery and to use random sampling and species composition.”
Baran spends 12 to 20 days per month at sea, gathering fishing effort and location information, sampling for species composition and collecting biological data from both prohibited and target species.
He also has duties while land-bound. He must make dock rounds, enter and edit data, perform safety reviews and contact vessels to be observed.
“The faculty and staff in the biology department deserve all the credit for me being where I am today. I’m not the first, but rather the third Armstrong alum to be in this program, so that in itself should speak volumes about the professors in that department,” Baran said. “They definitely prepare you for life outside the comfortable (and warm) walls of Armstrong.”