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KBS's Nicholas Ballew receives Hensley Scholarship PDF Print E-mail

KBS congratulates Nicholas Ballew, recipient of the Dr. Marvin Hensley Endowed Scholarship.

Established in 1995 to further the disciplines of zoological and biological science, the scholarship recognizes outstanding undergraduate and graduate students pursuing education in vertebrate zoology with emphasis on field study.

The scholarship is administered by the Department of Zoology at Michigan State University.

Ballew was recognized at the 2013 College of Natural Science Annual Awards program, held on April 12 in East Lansing. He will receive a $7500 scholarship award this fall.


At KBS, Ballew studies how behavioral traits impact fitness at different life stages in largemouth bass, one of the nation’s most popular sport fish species. Specifically, he investigates whether bass populations can evolve to become less vulnerable to fishing pressure—meaning, can they adapt over time in ways that make them more difficult to catch?

Ballew measures characteristics such as foraging behavior and levels of combativeness in young fish living in KBS experimental ponds. He then records data about their survival rates and reproductive success—and even fishes in the ponds to look for relationships between a fish's behavioral traits and its ‘catchability.’ Ballew’s research could someday prove useful for fishery managers and policymakers.

Ballew plans to complete his data collection and analysis this summer, and to apply his scholarship award toward analyzing DNA samples.


Marvin "Max" Hensley joined the MSU faculty as an assistant professor of Zoology in September 1956. Hensley taught a variety of courses in the field of vertebrate biology, including animal distribution, biology of vertebrates, and herpetology, and encouraged laboratory and field experience.

Hensley’s classic study, ‘Ecological Relations of the Breeding Bird Population of the Desert Biome in Arizona,’ conducted at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, influenced noted ecologists including Robert MacArthur.

Hensley earned a B.A. from Greenville College in 1946; an M.S. from the University of Illinois in 1948; and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1951. He taught at Gettysburg College before arriving at MSU.

Hensley received the MSU College of Natural Science Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award in 1985. He retired from MSU in 1986.