Long Island is a long finger of land extending east from New York City to the Atlantic Ocean. It doesn’t seem like a place where you’d see anything that looks like a quaint New England fishing village. But as Tal Ben-Horin, assistant professor of shellfish pathology at the CVM, will tell you, the eastern end of Long Island is where you’ll find Northport, a picturesque hamlet with antique shops and art galleries and small town charm. That’s where Ben-Horin grew up and where he developed a love for all things coastal.
What is your background?
I was born in Israel, but grew up on the Long Island Sound. We were always outside, boating, fishing or surfing. In school I was especially interested in science and math, and so it was just kind of natural that a career in aquatic science would pique my interest.
How did you get into this field?
As an undergrad I majored in environmental science at the University of Vermont, which is next to Lake Champlain. My academic advisor was an aquatic biologist, and he got me interested in research. I went to grad school in California, got a Ph.D. and became a pathologist.
What will you be doing in your new job?
I’ll be working out of the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City. My job is 60% extension service, 30% research and 10% teaching and mentorship. I am the shellfish pathologist for the state. The creation of this new position is a reflection of NC State’s commitment to the State Shellfish Initiative launched in 2018, which is a collaboration between the public and private sector to preserve coastal ecosystems and a healthy and sustainable shellfish industry. The state is interested in further development of aquaculture.
What are you most excited about in this new role?
It’s a great mix. I love research, I get to interact with the seafood industry providing a needed service and I get to be an academic and work with the great faculty members here.
Can you tell us something that someone would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a twin brother. And I love to surf. For a while before grad school I was even a ski bum in Colorado.
When you’re not on campus, where could we find you?
Exploring the coast with my wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 2.
Do you have any pets?
We have a dog named Lily. She’s an Australian shepherd and retriever mix. She’s just a big black shaggy thing. She’s 9 years old, but never lost her puppy drive.