Friday, May 22, 2015

Fish Health Section Annual Meeting Update


We wanted to provide some bits of information for members for the upcoming Fish Health Section Annual Meeting in Ithaca, NY.

The meeting will be held from July 13-15th at the Hotel Ithaca. The early registration deadline for the meeting is June 1st. After this date, registration prices will increase.

The Continuing Education session will be held on July 13th and is titled "Prevention of Infectious Diseases in Aquatic Animals: Management Practices and Vaccines".

The deadline for applications for the Snieszko Student Travel Award is June 1st. More information on the award and how to apply can be here.

Finally, we have set up a Google doc for students/early career members looking for a roommate to help defray costs at the meeting. The room rate is good until June 1st or the hotel sells out of the block of rooms. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Student Profile: Amy Teffer

Amy Teffer is a PhD student at the University of Victoria, co-supervised out of the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her research examines disease ecology of wild salmon, specifically relating to temperature and fisheries stressors currently affecting Fraser River salmon during their spawning migration.

1. What is your current research/position?
I am a PhD student at the University of Victoria and University of British Columbia (co-supervised, best of both worlds). My research is part of a larger study using paired holding and biotelemetry studies to examine the effects of multiple stressors and infectious disease processes on the survival and migration success of Pacific salmon in the Fraser River watershed in British Columbia, Canada.

2. What sparked your interest in aquatic animal health?
I suppose it came from a basic curiosity about how aquatic organisms and ecosystems function, of which animal health is a key component. Specifically, my research takes an ecological perspective on factors affecting wild fish health.

3. What has been your favorite fisheries-related job?
That’s a tough one, but I think my time spent working at the Conte Anadromous Fish Lab in Turners Falls, MA stands out most in my mind. We were tracking shad around the Connecticut River using radio telemetry, running flume experiments in the lab to test fishway performance and turbine passage across species, and I logged some serious hours entering data! It was a demanding job and the weather was often uncooperative, but the work and the people were stupendous. I learned so much so quickly and began to develop a palpable understanding of how fisheries research got done and what I wanted to do with my career.

4. What do you like most about graduate/professional school?

Firstly, the freedom. I thrive in an independent setting, with support available when I need it. My supervisors know how to support my work but give me space to grow. Secondly, the directive. Something that I believe many graduate students forget is that we are here to (primarily) do one thing: finish a dissertation. Ask a question and answer it using the information, observation and experimentation available to us. Looking toward the future and given what is in store for us in academic or other research professions, that is a very simple, straightforward, and exciting task (though still overwhelming at times!). Thirdly, the community. Awesome people with enduring curiosity and diverse expertise.

5. When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS? 

I attended a local chapter meeting at the start of my MSc, which was my first exposure to AFS. The atmosphere was so welcoming and the presented work so interesting and inspiring to this young professional that I joined the Society the following day. I became a member of the FHS at the start of my PhD, soon afterwards attending a local conference in Washington for which I was award travel support by the section. To be honest I was terrified as an ecologist among fish health experts, but again received excellent advice and support for my presented research. Since joining the society and section, I have contributed to AFS as a communications officer for our local student chapter and benefitted greatly through this experience and received multiple travel awards to attend conferences across the country.

6. What are your long-term professional goals (FHS or otherwise)?Any position where I am allotted time and support to conduct research that interests me, whether within academia, agencies, or elsewhere, would be ideal. Teaching is an appealing prospect, as I enjoy sharing knowledge and experience as much as acquiring it. However, like many young professionals in my shoes, I am at the whim of the availability of positions. Keeping an open mind and broad interests centered on a main theme has gotten me far: point your sails where you want to go and let the wind and water do the rest! Regardless, I would like to strengthen my involvement with the FHS in the coming years. I have made valuable and lasting connections within the FHS and look forward to having more time available to attend and assist with section activities.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mentor Profile with Brandon Taro, Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Brandon Taro has been the Fish Health Program Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for the past five years. He has a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of Wyoming, and a Master of Natural Resources from Utah State University. Brandon started working for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in 1999 as a laboratory aide before taking a contract position as a laboratory technician doing PCR for whirling disease in the same lab. He was then hired by the USDA Agricultural Research Service to work on West Nile virus for a year. In 2001, Brandon was hired by the National Center for Design of Molecular Function, part of Utah State University’s Research Foundation, working with a group of engineers to develop and test biodefense detection technology for viruses, bacteria, and toxins of importance. After three years with that group, Brandon went to work for the Institute for Antiviral Research where he advanced to managing the Hepatitis B and prion disease research programs, and helped with the West Nile virus program.

When Brandon came to the Fish Health program with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, he had plenty of laboratory experience and no fish health background. Brandon jumped in with both feet. He learned the nuances of diagnostic and inspection work, studied the Blue Book, started updating protocols and laboratory practices, and brought the program into alignment with the guidelines of the Blue Book and the needs of the fish culture program. The Wyoming Fish Health program currently inspects ten state-run aquaculture facilities at least once per year as well as six private facilities. They also inspect up to nine feral brood stock populations during spawning in addition to performing disease diagnostics (bacteriology, parasitology and virology) for the state. During the course of a year, the Fish Health program travels about 30,000 miles to some of the most beautiful places in the state of Wyoming, and attends the Western Fish Disease Workshop and the Rocky Plains Pathology Group. With the recent purchase of a building designated to serve as a new wildlife forensics, fish health, and tooth aging laboratory, the Fish Health program is looking forward to the opportunity to update and expand their laboratory and capabilities.

Brandon is one of the coordinators of the 56th Annual Western Fish Disease Workshop which will take place June 2 – 4, 2015 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. More information about the meeting can be found in the FHS newsletter and online registration is now open.

1.      How did you get to where you are today?   
I got a little lucky in finding this job.  I was working as a virologist, studying Hepatitis B, West Nile, and prion disease, when this job opened.  I had worked for the lab previously, so I had a contact. I looked into the position, applied, and was hired.

2.      What do you like most about your current job? 
I get to travel all over Wyoming inspecting our facilities. They are all in great locations in beautiful places all over the state.

3.      When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS?  
My position is required to be certified as an AFS Aquatic Animal Health Inspector or a Fish Pathologist, so I became a member when I started working for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

4.      How do you feel that FHS has influenced your career path?  
The FHS is an incredible network of very knowledgeable individuals who are more than willing to help each other out.  The communication and attitude have helped me through some tough decisions and diagnostics already.

5.     What do you see for the future of the FHS?  
I see the FHS growing and becoming more important in the future.  I see fish health labs heading toward an accreditation requirement, and I think the FHS will be the guiding entity as that comes about.

6.     What has been your favorite part about being a part of the FHS network? 
I have loved the people I meet at conferences, the relationships that are built in such a short time, and then cultivated in the working world.

7.     Who were your mentors as you were an up-and-coming fish health specialist? 
Because of my background, I jumped into fish health with both feet, learning on  the fly.  Wade Cavendar (UT), Dave Money (formerly from WY), Scott LaPatra (ID), Doug Munson (ID) and Ray Brunson (formerly from WA) have all been a great help to me in my career.

8.     What would you say to yourself now, when you were going through school? 
Consider fish health as a career option, look into internships, and study harder!

9.     If you mentor students currently or hire new graduates, what sort of qualities do you look for?   
We get a few interns in our lab, and we look for good work ethic, willingness to learn, and a quirky personality that fits in with our group.

10.    Any words of wisdom to up-and-coming FHS students and new members?  
Start building your network and contacts early, show your skills when and where you can, and be ready for opportunities that come out of the blue.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mentor Profile with Ben LaFrentz, USDA-ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit

Dr. Benjamin LaFrentz has been actively conducting basic and applied research in the area of aquatic animal health since 2000, with a special emphasis on pathogenic Flavobacterium spp. He is employed as a Research Molecular Biologist at the USDA-ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit in Auburn, Alabama.  He completed his undergraduate training in Animal Ecology (Aquaculture emphasis) at Iowa State University (2000) and MS and PhD in Fishery Resources at The University of Idaho (2002, 2007).  During his graduate training, he worked collaboratively with the rainbow trout aquaculture industry on research projects aimed at developing vaccines for Flavobacterium psychrophilum, the causative agent of bacterial coldwater disease.  Through these projects, he has conducted research on host immune mechanisms, identification and characterization of immunogenic antigens, vaccine development, and identification of virulence factors of bacterial pathogens.  Currently, he is applying his expertise towards important bacterial pathogens of channel catfish and tilapia to develop new methods for disease prevention that will improve the productivity, quality, and profit of these important aquaculture species.

1.      How did you get to where you are today?
I have always had a passion for fish. As a child, I raised guppies and collected “data” on them, perhaps sparking my interest in research! After high school I attended Iowa State University and majored in animal ecology with an emphasis in aquaculture. During my junior or senior year, I took an interesting fish pathology course and felt this was my path. After graduating ISU, I was fortunate to get accepted to graduate school at the University of Idaho and obtained my MS and PhD degrees conducting research on bacterial coldwater disease. In 2008, I was hired as a research molecular biologist at the USDA-ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit in Auburn, AL.

2.      What do you like most about your current job? 
The thing I enjoy the most about my job is that I am always learning something new. Research is exciting (and frustrating at times) and results from one study may lead you down a road that you never thought about traveling. Combining basic and applied research with the goal of solving a problem to improve fish health is very satisfying to me.

3.      When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS? 
I joined AFS in 1999 while an undergraduate student and joined the FHS as a graduate student. At the University of Idaho, I was actively involved in the Palouse Student Subunit of the Idaho Chapter AFS and served as Co-President and Secretary. In 2004, I attended a FHS EXCOM meeting and the committee expressed interest in revamping the FHS website. I had some experience in developing websites, so I volunteered to serve as the website editor. This proved to be an invaluable opportunity as it allowed me to meet, network, and interact with many FHS members. Additionally, I have served on the Communications Committee, Student Involvement Committee, and Nominating and Balloting Committee.    

4.      How do you feel that FHS has influenced your career path? 
My involvement with the FHS has allowed me to interact with many FHS members and build lasting friendships and collaborations with other fish health professionals. It has opened the door to opportunities that would not have been possible.  

5.     What do you see for the future of the FHS? 
I see the future of the FHS continuing its long standing reputation of connecting fish health professionals nationally and internationally, promoting the science, developing professional and technical standards, and developing young professionals.  

6.     What has been your favorite part about being a part of the FHS network? 
My favorite part of the FHS network has been interacting with other members through involvement and meetings. Attending FHS meetings are rewarding for numerous reasons including learning more about current issues and research in fish health, building collaborations, meeting new people, and reconnecting with others.

7.     Who were your mentors as you were an up-and-coming fish health specialist? 
As an undergraduate at Iowa State University, I was fortunate to be advised and mentored by Bob Summerfelt. Through his mentoring, Bob introduced me to research and provided me with many of the skills that I needed to be successful. During my graduate research in Idaho, Ken Cain and Scott LaPatra taught me experimental design, research techniques, and how to write effectively. They also provided me with opportunities to attend meetings, assist with on-farm research, and explore side research projects. I will always be grateful for these mentors. I’ve met different fish health professionals with exemplary research programs, values, and attitudes which have indirectly served as mentors or role models.

8.     What would you say to yourself now, when you were going through school? 
I think it is important to work hard, keep an open mind, jump on opportunity, and find balance to ensure you play hard at times too.

9.     If you mentor students currently or hire new graduates, what sort of qualities do you look for? 
I mentor students on occasion, but I think the most important qualities are curiosity and enthusiasm.     

10.    Any words of wisdom to up-and-coming FHS students and new members? 
Get involved and build relationships with other FHS members.

Monday, January 12, 2015

56th Annual Western Fish Disease Workshop

Registration for the 56th Annual Western Fish Disease Workshop has opened. The registration website is here. The workshop will be held from June 2-4, 2015 at the Steamboat Sheraton Resort in Steamboat Springs, CO. The continuing education session will be held on June 2nd, and presentations will take place on June 3rd & 4th. This year's CE session is 'What's bugging my fish? Detection, pathology, impacts, and treatment of problematic parasites' and is RACE certified. 

More information will be available soon in the FHS Newsletter.