Jesse Senko

Degree program: 
Biology
Hometown: 
Monroe, Connecticut
Status: 
PhD candidate

What are you researching?

I study ways to improve the sustainability of small-scale fisheries, reduce the incidental capture of endangered ocean wildlife and maintain fisher livelihoods. 

Who or what inspires you, and why?

I'm inspired by the relentless passion and dedication of people like Hoyt Peckham, who have a deep personal conviction for conservation and the work that they do. I am constantly in awe of Hoyt's ability to build partnerships and social capital with fishers, community members, local and federal governments, non-governmental organizations and scientists, and how he works with them across geopolitical boundaries to develop conservation solutions.

I am also inspired by my Baja Mexican fisher pals Julio Solis, Don "Chuy" Lucero, and Ranulfo Mayoral, all of whom grew up fishing for and eating sea turtles and have now dedicated their lives to saving them. They give me hope. 

What was your biggest challenge as a new graduate student?

Probably convincing myself I belong, but I think everyone goes through that to some extent in grad school. In the field, it’s always heartbreaking to see so many endangered sea turtles and other incidentally captured animals become entangled and die in fishing nets. 

What is the best part of your job?

The ability to be autonomous, think outside the box and collaborate with a diverse and passionate group of people who believe in the work we are doing. Also, I get to teach and mentor passionate, bright and hard working undergrads here at ASU, and show them that scientific research can (and should!) be fun — which is pretty cool. I mentored one student in particular, Mattie Rodrigue, who is now doing her masters in marine biology and conducting research on a commercial fishing boat, and I'm more proud about that than anything else.