Tawny Scanlan: Keller Pathway Fellowship Alumna
Making aquaculture production more sustainable in the face of global climate change
Note: This interview was conducted in fall 2018. Tawney Scanlan was a Keller Pathway Fellows in 2018/19.
Tawny Scanlan is a doctoral candidate at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and is affiliated with the Meyers Gamete Biology Laboratory and the Animal Biology Graduate Group. She is interested in understanding the impact of global climate change on economically important fish species and developing reproductive biotechnology tools to make aquaculture production more sustainable.
Scanlan has received numerous fellowships, including funding from the National Science Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to conduct research in Japan. She is a Gates Millennium Scholar and holds a B.S. in animal biology with a minor in evolution, ecology and biodiversity. When not in the lab, she loves spending time with her two Australian shepherds hiking at Lake Tahoe.
In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.
My project focuses on understanding fish reproduction to develop reproductive biotechnology tools to increase production efficiency.
What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?
Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing sectors of food production. Developing novel technologies to improve production is critical to address the mounting challenge of feeding the world’s growing human population without further damaging the environment. I hope my project can increase production efficiency and sustainability cost-effectively by changing the reproductive management strategies currently employed in many commercial fish production facilities for trout, salmon and white sturgeon.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I am passionate about working at the interface of animals, people and the environment to solve complex problems that impact conservation strategies and sustainable food production. My research allows me pursue my interest in conservation biology while also allowing me to apply my finding to the fish-farming industry—for example, private fish companies and governmental fish hatcheries—to help address different challenges faced by both sectors.
Aquaculture is one of the fasting growing sectors of food production. Developing novel technologies to improve production is critical to address the mounting challenge of feeding the world’s growing human population without further damaging the environment.
What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?
The value of building a broad, far-reaching network because a cohesive interdisciplinary team is crucial to the success of any business. Having a team with many different perspectives will contribute to building a robust idea and help reduce some of the uncertainties in propelling the idea forward.
What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?
Startups are like science: expect more failure than success. But most importantly, learn from those failures and use those experiences to create a different outcome because there is no right way to find success.
Do you have a project/venture in mind for the Big Bang! Business Competition? How do you expect participation in the Big Bang! workshops and competition to help you as an aspiring entrepreneur?
My project is still in its early stages so I will be joining a team with a more developed venture, but I plan on competing in the Little Bang! Poster Competition with my own idea. I am very introverted so participating in the Big Bang! will help me further develop my soft skills to become a more dynamic public speaker and better team member. I’m excited to watch all the different teams participating in the workshops grow their ideas and to learn first-hand how to assess and adapt business ideas into profitable ventures.
The Keller Pathway Fellowship Program specifically supports women, cross-disciplinary researchers and other underrepresented university-based entrepreneurs. Do you have any insight, experience or concern you’d like to share?
I am extremely grateful UC Davis is committed to equity in science and recognizes researchers from different backgrounds. I am thankful the Keller Pathway Fellowship provides so many opportunities to train these scientists for roles outside of academia.
How will your experiences as a Keller Pathway Fellow help you to change the world?
I believe being a Keller Fellow will give me the skills and experiences necessary to navigate the business side of science and provide me with the foundation to become a strong candidate for industry positions.