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Indianapolis to Vietnam, UIndy student and professor hopeful to have found new fish species

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Posted at 8:43 AM, May 31, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Looking at UIndy student Jackson Hoover, it's obvious he's a student athlete.

Donning UIndy wrestling gear around campus, the athlete doesn't just excel on the mat.

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He helped UIndy place 9th at the D2 Wrestling National Championships.

He's dedicated to schoolwork too. The soon to be senior just took his MCAT and is preparing for medical school in the fall of 2025.

To know Hoover's desires professionally it makes you wonder why he took apart in a cave expedition across the world.

While Hoover hopes to become an anesthesiologist he couldn't help but jump at the opportunity to discover the unknown in Vietnam.

"I was looking for a research project an he [Professor Wiseman] was like hey what about going to Vietnam, and I obviously said yes," Hoover said.

So the two started their trek. From Indianapolis to Vietnam, the honor student and biology professor Dean Wiseman have returned home and hope to have discovered a new fish species.


It was all part of a senior capstone project. Every UIndy honor student must complete a research project.

The pair descended deep into the jungles of Vietnam to a cave for the project with a desire to find the undiscovered.

“Research is an interesting thing because it starts with a simple question, it could be a simple question about almost anything. You ask that question and then how do you go about figuring out an answer to that question," UIndy Biology professor Dean Wiseman said.

Their goal was to develop research on an undiscovered species of fish.


"We caught the fish fairly quickly," Wiseman said.

Wiseman heard about the fish, which doesn't have a name yet, and wanted to be part of the group to discover it.

“We found that they don’t have any pigment because they’re in a really dark environment. So they’re just wasting calories creating pigment and that goes the same thing with their eyes. Eyes are really metabolically expensive to develop so they really completely lack eyes," UIndy student Jackson Hoover said.

The fish are blind and basically see through.


“These fish might already be endangered and we don’t know that," Wiseman said.

It's why research like this is so important.

Learning absolutely everything they can about them.

“We can’t conserve organisms if we don’t know about them. So we really want to make them known to the locals in a way that they’re not going to take advantage of it necessarily but work more the understand why it’s there," Hoover said.

To reach the conclusion that this is a new species of fish they base it off of statistics. All of the data they collected has been submitted for review.


The process to officially determine whether it's a new species -- which includes categorizing physical characteristics and DNA analysis -- takes months. If it's not a new species, then they contributed to the research of knowing the range of existing species.