My favorite part of research experience is the discovery aspect. Every day in the lab there is a new and exciting find inside a fish stomach, such as a rare white bass, a robin's leg, or a fish hook. Additionally, I have made connections all over the state of Michigan who have broadened my horizons on career opportunities. I have met and worked with remarkable people who I have formed lasting friendships with. I have also gained the satisfaction of contributing novel information to a dynamic scientific field.
Czajka’s research project is a diet analysis of predatory Great Lakes fish, specifically steelhead trout from Lake Michigan. The goal of the project is to determine how predatory fish from Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have changed their foraging behavior in response to the ecosystem-wide changes that the invasions of several nonnative species have caused. Her research is a vital tool to inform salmon and trout stocking decisions and harvest policy. Recent and concurrent invasions of several nonnatives have unbalanced the food web, thus older diet studies are not reflective of the current prey base. The predatory fish have been forced to alter their diets to compensate for lost native prey and exploit the new exotic species. This study provides fisheries managers a better understanding of what, where, and when the predators are consuming so they can make informed decisions about sustainable stocking and harvesting.