Sunday, February 21, 2016

Student Profile: Danielle Van Vliet

Danielle is a graduate student at Michigan State University studying bacterial coldwater disease in the Great Lakes.

1. What is your current research/position?
I’m currently a PhD candidate in the Aquatic Animal Health Lab at Michigan State University working with Dr. Mohamed Faisal. My research focuses on multiple epidemiological aspects of Flavobacterium psychrophilum, particularly as is relates to infections of Great Lakes basin salmonid populations.

2. What sparked your interest in aquatic animal health?
As an undergraduate at Michigan State University I had a strong interest in animal medicine and was sure I would pursue veterinary school. I discovered the Fisheries and Wildlife department at MSU, where I recognized another main interest of mine, natural resource management. Fortunately for me, Dr. Faisal teaches a Fisheries and Wildlife Disease Ecology course, where my two strongest interests were really allowed to mix: natural resource management and animal health. It was a fateful semester where I discovered aquatic animal health, Dr. Faisal, and his lab.

3. What has been your favorite fisheries-related job?
I don’t have much employment experience as I jumped right into graduate school after completing my Bachelor’s in 2011, however, I will say some of my favorite days in the lab are when we get to work on some of my favorite fish species, including wild muskellunge broodstock. We do all the fish health inspections for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, through this I have been able to visit the operating weirs in the state, as well as all State fish hatcheries, which has given me further appreciation for the fishery conservation programs in the Great Lakes.

4. What do you like most about graduate/professional school?
My favorite thing is coming to work every day and being surrounded by people with the exact same interests (and maybe weirdness) as myself. The lab family at the AAHL is unlike any other group of people I have ever met, and every single one of them make the treacherous journey of graduate school a little more manageable. I also really enjoy attending professional conferences where I can meet even more likeminded “fish people”. An unexpected enjoy that I’ve discovered during graduate school is teaching. It’s really quite an experience to be on the other side of the classroom.

5. When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS?
My first summer as a grad student I attended the AFS FHS meeting in LaCrosse Wisconsin with a labmate. I was welcomed by everyone, and really felt like a part of a wonderful group, even as a first year student. I continue to maintain involvement with AFS and FHS because of the wonderful collaboration that comes from friendships forged through these groups.

6. What are your long-term professional goals (FHS or otherwise)?
As my graduate career comes to an end, I’m looking forward to the next step. The options are endless, however I hope to continue in fish health and disease ecology and management. My love for research and lab work will never cease, and an opportunity that allows me to mix both field work and lab work would be wonderful. I plan on maintaining a relationship with the FHS and fish health community for many years to come.