Jonathan Dong ’21 has been awarded the College’s prestigious Bristol Fellowship to explore The Global Rise in Sustainable Aquaculture by traveling to Mexico, Chile, Kenya, Singapore, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.
The Bristol Fellowship was created for Hamilton students to “encourage discovery of self and the world, a greater appreciation and understanding of people and culture, and to enable individuals to act on great ideas through independent study projects rather than formal academic pursuit.” A Boston Posse scholar, Dong will receive a $30,000 award.
Here he describes how his time at Hamilton broadened his passion for aquaculture and the scope of his project.
What was your reaction to winning the Bristol?
I was beyond excited; winning the Bristol meant that I can pursue a personal project with the help of the Bristol family and Hamilton College. I couldn’t help but grin for the whole week!
What’s your goal for the project?
I hope to learn more about the global rise in sustainable aquaculture practices across the globe. Aquaculture is the production of fish for both domestic consumption and exportation. This sector of fish production is rising across the world as wild fish stocks continue to decline, as we reach the limit of our fisheries catch rate, and as the middle-class rises globally, aiding in increased demand for fish.
The dynamics of aquaculture will be different in countries and regions, as there are differences in environmental and geographical parameters, differences in technological infrastructure, and differences in cultural mindsets regarding fisheries and aquaculture. As such, the rapid expansion of aquaculture comes with issues of regulations and waste management. How does aquaculture expand without disrupting the environment and contribute to the well-being of people?
Major: Environmental studies
Hometown: Malden. Mass.
High school: Malden High School
How do you envision your upcoming Bristol year?
The countries I’ll visit reflect the global expansion of sustainable aquaculture, from the introduction of native species to already established aquaculture facilities in Chile to implementation of aquaculture as a driver for rural development in Kenya and Papua New Guinea.
I’ll meet and volunteer with a range of people whose work is relevant to aquaculture and traditional fisheries. They include researchers, educators, government officials, NGO workers, fishermen, and community members. In my experience, individuals working in aquaculture are inviting and supportive to participants who want to learn about this field, making [connections] easier.
I have to thank Hamilton for its amazing curriculum and culture surrounding pursuing one’s goals and interests.
Who at Hamilton and others influenced you?
[Student Fellowships Coordinator] Ginny Dosch and [Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies] Aaron Strong supported me throughout the whole Watson and Bristol process. [Professor of Geosciences] Cynthia Domack’s ... kind and supporting words helped me move forward during the project. Jason Townsend [lab supervisor] has been my independent study advisor for projects I have done related to the aquaponics system. He has pushed me to follow my instincts and interests related to the aquatic world. Frank Anecharico, [government professor and] my Posse advisor, has helped me pursue my goals to great lengths, supporting me along my academic path.
Also, Howard dePass Jr., Allison Paul, Andrew Gallagher, Geanina Fripp, Stephanie Tafur, and everyone at the Boston Posse Foundation for supporting me both personally and academically throughout my college career. The opportunity provided by Posse has allowed me to continue following my passions through Hamilton.
What do you plan to do after your Bristol year is up?
I’ll possibly apply for grad school at the Yale School of the Environment, or pursue a career through Mass Audubon. Regardless, I will continue to work with aquatic life and their environments. Ultimately, I see myself working at an environmental nonprofit or research facility aimed at advancing aquaculture technologies and distributing them in the hopes of benefiting the global community.
Anything you’d like to add?
I have to thank Hamilton for its amazing curriculum and culture surrounding pursuing one’s goals and interests. If I wasn’t at Hamilton, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to do things such as founding and creating the Aquaponics Club and lab, developing plans for a bug farm on campus, conducting independent studies on tilapia growth rate and nutrient acquisition efficiency, teaching aquaponics and aquaculture to third graders at Avenues: The World School in Sao Paulo, Brazil, via Zoom, and serving as president for ASU.