Project Raise brings ancient fish to life

Ayanna Banks

Cal State Fullerton geology professor and chair Dr. Jeffrey Knott gave FC students a close up view into Death Valley’s Salt Creek and the endangered, Pup fish, on Tuesday in the natural sciences building.

This information session is a part of a series through Project Raise, which strives to inform and get students interested in STEM fields.

Project Praise
Project Raise focuses on increasing students interest in STEM program to help them find careers in their field. Photo credit: Cal state Fullerton

The seminar unveiled to students Salt Creek in Death Valley, which amongst many others, is a habitat for the endangered species; the pup fish. Through research done by Knotts, students, and other STEM organizations, the fish were discovered in locations and habitats such as the Colorado River, Amargosa River Valley and the Devils Hole.

“Biologically the pup fish are these physically isolated fish that can adapt and survive over time in harsh conditions, this tells scientists what species are resilient in certain environments,” said Knotts.

The research on the paleo climate of Death Valley can also predict the weather and climate that affects California. Students at FC found the seminar to be useful.

“I feel like this topic has relevancy to my life because it plays into the role of the environment that I live in Orange County,” said Maira Carrillo, business administration student.

Project Raise works collectively with CSUF and community colleges to deliver information sessions throughout the semester from peer advisors, offer an 8-week undergraduate research summer program and prepares Hispanic and low-income students for the RAISE transfer program.

“Although I am going into a different field, I found the information seminar to be useful because I love to travel and learn about different animal species,” adds Keeana Fomai, liberals arts student.

Knott, who works with Project Raise, has received his doctorate in Geology from UC Riverside and has been conducting research in Death Valley and other locations for over 25 years. Some of the areas in which he does research is normal fault evolution, tephrochronology and biodegradation of organic and inorganic compounds.

“Death Valley is a National Park, it’s fairly close to Los Angeles and visited by thousands of Geologists over the years and to know that there are things that still need to be discovered there is really impressive,” Knotts added.