Friday, May 26, 2017

Early Career Member Profile: Nora Hickey

Nora Hickey is a veterinarian working at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. 

1. What is your current research/position?
My current position is Program Veterinarian at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. I work along with three AFS-FHS certified Fish Pathologists to provide fish health services for wild and hatchery Pacific salmon in the care of twenty treaty tribes in Western Washington. I started this position last year after graduating from vet school. This June I will have been in the position for one year.

2. What sparked your interest in aquatic animal health?
Aquatic animal health was a way to combine fish with medicine. I’ve always kept aquariums, and during my undergrad at MIT I volunteered at the New England Aquarium in the Freshwater Gallery with Scott Dowd of Project Piaba, which was incredibly awesome. A lot of my friends from MIT were going the pre-med route to become human doctors, which seemed like a very interesting career. When I discovered vets working with fish at the New England Aquarium and in zebrafish labs at MIT, I decided to become a fish vet.

3. What has been your favorite fisheries-related job?
Anything with field work. When I was in college, I spent four summers working for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology on the fish crew sampling lakes for a long term ecological research project. This involved activities like electrofishing for giant muskies and wrestling rogue snapping turtles out of fyke nets. It was very fun, especially considering how terrible I am at fishing—I could never have caught any of those fish on my own.

4. How did you find your current position?
My current position was advertised on a variety of mailing lists for aquatic animal health professionals. I wasn’t sure about applying for it because it was advertised in September, and I wasn’t graduating until May of the following year, but fortunately my mentor encouraged me to apply.

AFS-FHS and other organizations have mailing lists where fish health positions are regularly advertised, and I think it is really important to start reading position advertisements early on in your education, even if you aren’t ready to apply for jobs yet. I monitored job advertisements throughout vet school to get an idea of what the average fish veterinary position looked like—salary, required qualifications, responsibilities, hours (including after-hours expectations), and progression—so I could have a better idea of what I wanted when I started applying for jobs.

5. What do you like about your current position?
I really enjoy working for the tribes because they are incredibly committed to protecting both the salmon and the ecosystems they live in.

Clinical work is my favorite part of my current position. Spending a day at a hatchery looking at fish and working with the hatchery staff to figure out strategies to improve fish health is very rewarding. I usually spend several days a week in the field doing clinical work, often more—spawning season is my favorite!

6. When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS?
I joined AFS and the FHS last summer right after I started my job. This past April I attended the AFS-FHS meeting in East Lansing, which I found very useful. The meeting was a good opportunity to see how different regions and agencies are approaching fish health. The talks were incredibly diverse, covering topics from vaccination and disease transmission to coral diseases to laboratory methods to determine antimicrobial resistance—but I was able to take away information from each of these talks that was applicable to my own work with the health of salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

7. What are your long-term professional goals (FHS or otherwise)?I was fortunate to have an excellent mentor in Dr. Myron Kebus, who helped me get the experience and knowledge I needed to secure a position as a fish vet. There are many vet students who are interested in fish medicine, but it can be difficult for them to get access to experiences with fish veterinarians for a variety of reasons—difficulty establishing contacts in the field, a shortage of formal externship opportunities, and competition for educational opportunities to name several. I would like to collaborate with other fish health professionals to make a more accessible path for vet students to gain knowledge and experience in fish health. This is something that Doug Munson with Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been working very hard on for several years, and I am hoping to collaborate with him on this project.

8. Do you have any tips or advice for others that may be looking for a job soon?
Shadow people who have the job you want. This will give you specific experience and knowledge that shows you are serious about that particular position. While you are shadowing, pay attention to how the person you are following actually spends their time—and make sure that this aligns with how you imagined the job. I think that liking your job is at least as important as salary, work hours, benefits, etc

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Joint Meeting of the AFS-FHS and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission-Fish Health Committee took place from April 2-3, 2017 in Lansing, MI.

Student representation was high with 11 student presentations and 8 student posters. Congratulations to Carolyn Chang of State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry for winning Best Student Poster and Dallas Coleman of UC-Davis Veterinary School for winning Best Student Presentation.

The Student and Early Career Workshop was held on Monday night and was a great success. Our thanks again to Jim Winton, Ron Thune, and Jeff Wolf for their participation.

The next Fish Health Section meeting will be held in conjunction with the ISAAH in September 2018 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Undergraduate Travel Assistance Award

For any undergraduates interested in attending the 147th AFS Annual Meeting in Tampa, the Student Subsection of Education Section of the American Fisheries Society is offering a scholarship to undergraduates. More information can be found here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Student and early career workshop at the upcoming FHS/EFHW meeting

Students and early professionals attending the AFS-FHS Meeting and/or the EFHW are invited to attend the ‘Embark on Successful Career in Fish Health’ workshop. This workshop will be held on Monday, April 3rd, from 5 - 6:30 pm (location TBA).

We’ve invited three accomplished members of the fish health community to speak on topics relevant to students and early career members. Each speaker will give a 15 minute presentation with a panel Q+A session to follow.

Publishing piscatorial papers: Dos and don’ts
Jeffrey C. Wolf, Experimental Pathology Laboratories, Journal of Aquatic Animal Health Editor
Research funding: Where to find it and how to get it
James R. Winton, USGS Western Fisheries Research Center

Successful navigation of the graduate school journey
Ron Thune, Professor, Louisiana State University                             

Hope to see everyone there! 

Scholarship opportunities

There are two new scholarship opportunities that will be of interest to our members. For more information, see below.

American Association of Fish Veterinarians (AAFV) Scholarships

The American Association of Fish Veterinarians (AAFV) recognizes the burgeoning cost of veterinary education coupled with the fact that most veterinary schools do not provide training in aquatic veterinary medicine. Thus, the AAFV Student Scholarship Program has been established to assist veterinary students in their quest to increase their experience and training in aquatic veterinary medicine, specifically fish. This includes, but is not limited to, participating in aquatic programs, short courses, externships, conferences and presentations and research projects. The AAFV Executive Board and Student Scholarship Committee has set the amount for each scholarship at $500. The number of scholarships offered each year will be dependent on available funds. Scholarships will be presented once a calendar year and need to be used within one year of being awarded.

For more information on these scholarships, eligibility, and application procedures, please visiti the following website:

Merck Animal Health Champions Young Aquaculture Leaders with New Salmon Science Award

Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the US and Canada) is proud to announce the introduction of the High Quality Salmon Science Award supporting research in salmon health and welfare by tomorrow’s industry leaders. Starting this year, Merck Animal Health will award one recent graduate in veterinary or animal science the opportunity to present their research to an impressive number of industry specialists at an upcoming Merck Animal Health High Quality Salmon meeting in Scotland, UK.

Applications are due by April 7th, 2017.

For more information on this award, please visit the following website: