John Brian (Brian) Alford, Ph.D.

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Assistant Professor
  Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
Office: 51-B McCord Hall
Phone: (865) 974-8752

Focus: Fishery conservation and management

  • Fisheries ecology and management, stream ecology, environmental quality, aquatic habitat modeling, Lake sturgeon population dynamics, recirculation aquaculture
Educational & Research Programs
  • Restoration of fishes and mollusks in the Pigeon River watershed
  • Recovery of Lake sturgeon in the Tennessee River system
  • Modeling land use, instream habitat, and water quality impacts on aquatic biota in Southern Appalachia
  • Assessing imperilment status of rare fishes, benthic insects, and mussels
  • Development of sustainable feed for indoor Tilapia aquaculture

  • Fisheries Techniques (WFS 442)
  • Ecology & Management of Fishes (WFS 452/552)

Biographical sketch

Dr. Alford is an Assistant Professor of Fishery Conservation and Management in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee. He grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi and earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences (1997) and M.S. in Environmental Biology (2005) from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. His Masters thesis was on the predation ecology of four sympatric darter species (Etheostoma lynceum, E. stigmaeum, E. swaini, and Percina nigrofasciata) on benthic macroinvertebrates in south Mississippi. In 2008, he completed his Ph.D. in Forest Resources from the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University, emphasizing in Fisheries Management. His dissertation addressed hierarchical relationships among ecoregion, watershed, riparian and instream habitat for sport fishes in Mississippi wadeable streams.
Brian has also spent time during his career monitoring water quality as an environmental scientist for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and as a field technician surveying freshwater mussels in the Upper Cape Fear River Basin at North Carolina State University. He also served as research coordinator at Mississippi State University for assessing post-Hurricane Katrina restoration of catfish (Ictaluridae) and Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus floridanus) fisheries in the Pascagoula River Basin.

From 2008-2013, Brian worked as a fisheries research biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Baton Rouge. His research included the study of land use and instream habitat influences on wadeable stream fish assemblages in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin (LPB), population dynamics of Spotted Bass (M. punctulatus) from LPB streams, and population and habitat characteristics of rare, stream-dwelling crayfishes in the Calcasieu River Basin (Orconectes blacki and Procambarus pentastylus). He also generated predictive models of flood duration and magnitude in the Atchafalaya River Basin for the management of its recreational and commercial fisheries, developed optimization models to assess impacts of salinity changes on nekton assemblages in the Barataria estuary, and created environmental models that predict commercial harvest of panaeid shrimp in the Barataria and Terrebone estuaries. Brian was also responsible for developing fishery-independent monitoring programs for the agency following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Louisiana’s new creel survey program for estimating recreational angler harvest of the state’s offshore and inshore marine fisheries.

Since arriving at the University of Tennessee in October 2013, the UT Fisheries Lab under Dr. Alford’s direction has focused on four core areas: 1) mapping suitable habitat and describing diet preference for reintroduced and federally threatened Lake Sturgeon in the Upper Tennessee River, 2) modeling impacts of land use and riparian forest structure on fish and benthic macroinvertebrate community structure and health in the southeastern U.S., as well as discovering new biomonitoring techniques that can be used by “citizen scientists” to assess these impacts, 3) developing new techniques to increase survival and health of rare and endangered fishes in a conservation aquaculture setting, and 4) developing a low-cost, sustainable pelleted fish food from local kitchen and agricultural wastes for the purpose of culturing tilapia indoors.

He teaches Fisheries Techniques (WFS 442) during fall semesters and Ecology and Management of Fishes (WFS 452/552) during spring semesters. In addition, Dr. Alford regularly advises undergraduate seniors for an Independent Study course (WFS 493), where students develop their own research project in conjunction with active research being conducted in his lab. He also serves as co-advisor to the UT Student Chapter of the Wildlife and Fisheries Society, and is a member of the Watershed Faculty Consortium in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Dr. Alford is an active member of the American Fisheries Society and the Southeastern Fishes Council, and collaborates with several professional groups devoted to conservation of aquatic fauna, including the Pigeon River Recovery Project, Southeast Lake Sturgeon Working Group, Little Tennessee River Native Fish Conservation Area, Tennessee Rare Fishes Working Group, Tennessee Endangered Mollusk Committee, and the USDA Southern Region Aquaculture Center.

Currently, he resides in Knoxville with his wife Amy. They enjoy spending time outdoors and getting lost in new places.

Recent Publications


Ph.D. Forest Resources, Mississippi State University, 2008
M.S. Environmental Biology, The University of Southern Mississippi, 2005
B.S. Biological Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi, 1997