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Callam Named Oyster Lab Director

Brian Callum

After an international search, Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) has appointed Brian Callam, PhD, to be the new director of the Grand Isle Oyster Research Lab (GIORL). Operated through a partnership between Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and LSG, the GIORL helps support the work of the Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery. As director of GIORL, Callam will develop a program of research and extension in support of both the wild and farmed oyster industry, looking for innovative approaches to adapting to future environmental changes to the coast.

Callam already had extensive experience working with triploid oysters, stemming back to his master’s degree work in Virginia. While at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, he held positions as an oyster restoration assistant, a field and hatchery technician and ultimately a graduate research assistant.

In 2014, he arrived in coastal Louisiana to begin work on his PhD dissertation entitled “Transforming lives in coastal communities through economic development: Breeding Crassostrea virginica for alternative oyster culture”. After defending, Callam stayed on as research associate at GIORL. This year will mark half a decade of his effort at the facility.

In an industry bracing for change, Callam has a strong vision for the future of the lab and what it will be able to provide. That vision includes working in research, extension and education to address the concerns of multiple stakeholders.

“The burgeoning oyster aquaculture industry in the Gulf of Mexico offers a wealth of potential; I am interested in developing, improving and expanding shellfish aquaculture. I intend to conduct collaborative research with industry partners to develop and adapt both oyster aquaculture gear and practices for conditions specific to Gulf of Mexico oyster farms and hatcheries,” said Callam.

Callam has numerous lines of inquiry he would like to follow, some of which include the exploring differences in genetics across populations, chromosome set manipulation, further examining shellfish physiology and expanding shellfish husbandry techniques and technologies.

“The Research Lab has had a close working relationship with the oyster industry. It is my goal to continue to strengthen this relationship to better guide research questions to have maximum positive impacts,” said Callam.

“We are thrilled to have the leadership of Dr. Callam to develop LSG efforts in research and extension at GIORL in collaboration with LDWF and the oyster industry to promote innovation in a time of coastal change,” said Robert Twilley, Louisiana Sea Grant Executive Director. “We see increased national investments in research and development for the aquaculture and seafood industry, and we need leadership at LSG to bring those investments to our seafood industry here in Louisiana.”

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant (www.laseagrant.org) has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.