Creative Research Medal 2010
Doug Peterson, associate professor of fisheries, is an internationally recognized expert on sturgeon, an ancient family of bony fish native to rivers, lakes, and coastlines of Eurasia and North America. He has conducted research on the life history and population dynamics of sturgeon populations in Georgia, New York, Michigan, Canada, and Europe. While originally working on the captive culture of lake sturgeon for reintroduction to the Coosa River in northwest Georgia, Peterson saw potential to apply his newly developed techniques to alleviate commercial harvest impacts on wild populations of Russian sturgeon, which have been severely over-fished in recent years. Peterson pioneered a new, cost-effective, sustainable method for farming sturgeon that has potential to alleviate the caviar-harvest threat to wild sturgeon—and to create a lucrative commodity for Georgia fish farmers. His techniques combine key elements of sturgeon life history with an efficient filtration system using fresh spring water from the mountains of north Georgia to produce fine caviar from Siberian sturgeon. Peterson is currently developing business models based on the poultry industry where young fingerling sturgeon are sold to farmers who raise them to harvest age.