Two Mississippi State University scientists are taking on new leadership roles at the university’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.

Jimmy Avery, who has served as the MSU Extension Service aquaculture specialist since 1999, has been named director of the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center.

The mission of the center is to support aquaculture research and education in the Southeast. Its goal is to enhance aquaculture production to benefit consumers, producers, service industries and the American economy.

David Wise, a research professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, has been named coordinator of the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center. Wise has been employed by the center since 1993. In that time, he has conducted aquaculture research with an emphasis on fish health.

The duties assumed by Avery and Wise were previously held by research professor Craig Tucker, who retired from MSU following more than 30 years of service.

“Support for catfish producers and other aquaculture enterprises is an important part of the mission of the Delta Research and Extension Center,” said Steve Martin, head of the Delta center. “Dr. Avery and Dr. Wise bring knowledge and experience to their new positions that ensure Mississippi aquaculture will continue to receive strong research and educational support from Mississippi State University, the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center and the National Warmwater Aquaculture Center.”

The MSU Extension Service has a long tradition of providing educational resources for catfish production and other aquaculture enterprises, said Extension Director Gary Jackson.

“Dr. Avery will continue to serve as the Extension aquaculture specialist, in addition to fulfilling his administrative responsibilities at the aquaculture center,” Jackson said. “His knowledge and commitment to the needs of producers are a key part of our outreach mission to aquaculture.”

Wise will continue to conduct research that targets specific diseases and parasites that threaten the health of fish and the economic well-being of producers, said MAFES Director George Hopper.

“Maintaining the health of their fish and having the ability to respond quickly to new health challenges are critical for catfish producers,” Hopper said. “Dr. Wise is a leader in applied disease research and will continue to provide that support for producers.”

Avery completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree at Delta State University. He earned his doctorate at Louisiana State University.

Wise earned his bachelor’s degree at Texas State University and master’s and doctorate degrees at Clemson University.