Thursday, September 17, 2015

Student Profile: Carolyn Chang

Carolyn Chang is a Ph.D. student in the Fish and Wildlife Biology and Management program at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her current research is focused on understanding and controlling infectious diseases that infect laboratory zebrafish.

1. What is your current research/position?
I am currently a PhD student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry working with Dr. Christopher Whipps. I am researching the control of infectious diseases in laboratory zebrafish. Specifically I research mycobacteriosis, a common disease in zebrafish. I am interested in better understanding this disease in order to implement effective disease control and management measures.

2. What sparked your interest in aquatic animal health?
I was introduced to aquatic animal health during my M.Sc. degree where I used the zebrafish model to investigate craniofacial development. The focus of this research was more biomedical; however, I ended up learning a lot about fish health and husbandry through working with the zebrafish model. I also had the opportunity to work as a research technician in an immunology lab shortly after completing my M.Sc. where I gained interest in immunology and disease research. For my doctoral studies I knew that I really wanted to continue to work with the zebrafish, but I also wanted to move into studying infectious diseases. I was fortunate to find a research advisor with a research project that allowed me to pursue both of these interests.

3. What has been your favorite fisheries-related job?
I have only had the opportunity to work with fish in graduate school. My favourite part of my fish work so far has been conducting in vivo experiments. I have had a chance to perform these experiments during both my masters and my current research. I feel that there is finesse to performing surgical procedures, injections and manipulations on a tiny little fish and an associated amount of patience to repeat these procedures many times. I love this part of my research, especially the really finicky parts.

4. What do you like most about graduate/professional school?
I enjoy the balance of being able to work both independently and under the supervision of my advisor and thesis committee. I like that I can work on my research independently, but I still have assistance from these established researchers to help me brainstorm, overcome obstacles and learn new techniques. Working in this environment, with this support system, has helped me grow and gain experience so that I will be prepared to move forward as a researcher.

5. When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS?
I first became involved with AFS and the FHS when I moved to SUNY-ESF to start my Ph.D. My first AFS meeting was the 7th ISAAH meeting in 2014 which was a great first experience. This was when I joined AFS and the FHS section. I have since been able to get a paper published in the FHS Journal (JAAH) and attend the FHS meeting this year in Ithaca, NY. I have found that the FHS section is composed of an impressive group of professionals who are welcoming and all doing amazing work.

6. What are your long-term professional goals (FHS or otherwise)?
My long-term professional goals are to continue to conduct research and move forward to post-doc and then to work in academia. Ideally, I would like to be in a position where I can conduct research as well as teach. Further into the future, I am also interested in working in an administrative role for a government agency or industry. I hope to also be able to experience living in some new and great places as I move through this career path!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Early Career Member Profile: Laura Braden

Laura Braden is a postdoctoral fellow at the Atlantic Veterinary College. Her current project is focused on elucidating molecular pathways and mechanisms for disease resistance in salmonids.

1. What is your current research/position?
Currently I am a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Mark Fast at the Atlantic Veterinary College in the Pathology and Microbiology Department. My research is focused on elucidating molecular pathways and mechanisms for disease resistance in salmonids.

2. What sparked your interest in aquatic animal health?
I had originally thought to pursue neuroscience or neurology. However, during my undergraduate degree at Vancouver Island University, I took a summer research position with Dr. Duane Barker, studying the potential for sea lice to act as vectors for certain aquatic pathogens. That work resulted in a larger strategic NSERC grant looking at the host-parasite relationship between sea lice and salmon, and I decided to be a part of that project for graduate school. This was the best decision I have ever made.

3. What has been your favorite fisheries-related job?
I don’t have a lot of employment experience in fisheries as I didn’t start working with salmon until graduate school. However, my favorite part of graduate school would definitely be working in the field. When it was time to run experiments, I had to visit fish farms and collect sea lice from Atlantic fish during harvest. Although that job wasn’t particularly glamorous, hitching a ride on a crew boat through the hundreds of islands on the east coast of Vancouver Island was amazing. I also had the opportunity to ride along with sockeye and chum test fisheries which was really interesting.  

4. How did you find your current position?
During the last year of my PhD. I began looking into potential post-doc positions. I had made several connections in Chile and Norway and was considering moving there to continue researching salmon. In the summer, Dr. Fast asked me to move to PEI and join his lab in Charlottetown and I accepted immediately. There was no doubt working with him is the best move for me. He is an emerging world-leader in fish parasitology/immunology and his lab is full of fabulous and creative people. I’m really excited to join the group.

5. What do you like about your current position?
The lab here at the AVC is involved in many different projects that I am able to be a part of. From sea lice and salmon interactions to studying arctic charr immunity to looking at drug responses in parasites to studying sturgeon – there are so many opportunities to research new and exciting topics. It is so awesome to be involved in such a spectrum of really cool projects.

6. What are your long-term professional goals (FHS or otherwise)?
I love doing research on such an important topic. Globally, aquaculture is emerging as one of the most important industries. However, truly sustainable aquaculture is impeded by our relative lack of knowledge with respect to host-parasite/pathogen interactions in teleosts. The reason I love my work so much is because I want to contribute to making aquaculture more sustainable. I definitely will continue in this field for a long time, and I hope to make significant advances in our understanding of disease resistance in fish. Ultimately, I would like to be involved in a more political manner, perhaps as consulting for policy regarding aquaculture in Canada.

7. Do you have any tips or advice for others that may be looking for a job soon?
From my perspective, it really is about two things: work ethic and a drive for success. Current supervisors and people you work with can only give references based on your productivity, and when it comes to applying for scholarships/awards or job positions, the only thing that will put you apart from your peers are your references. And especially in a small community such as fish health, it is all about who you know and how they know you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Student Profile: Marc Terrazas

Marc Terrazas is a masters student at the University of Idaho. Marc’s work focuses on stress-mediated disease and thermal ecology issues associated with burbot culture and restoration. 

1. What is your current research/position?
Currently I am a research and teaching assistant for Dr. Kenneth Cain at the University of Idaho pursuing an M. S. in natural resources. My research is focused on stress-mediated disease and thermal ecology issues associated with burbot conservation and restoration in the Kootenai River drainage of northern Idaho and British Columbia.

2. What sparked your interest in aquatic animal health?
I did not have any real background with aquatic animal health from my undergraduate education but upon completion of my degree and searching for a job there was an opening with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks as a fish health specialist. This was my first exposure to aquatic animal health issues and was the catalyst for the direction of my graduate studies, research, and career. This job exposed me to many aquatic animal health issues as well as exposing me to many other aspects of fisheries management.

3. What has been your favorite fisheries-related job?
I would not be where I am today without my first job with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the confidence of Ken Staigmiller, my former boss. He showed a lot of trust in me to take on a lot of responsibility and really gave me a lot freedom to pursue projects that were of interest to me and beneficial to the State of Montana’s aquatic resources. I owe a lot to him, and I think he made a good choice.

4. What do you like most about graduate/professional school?
The exposure to varied research programs going on in fisheries and similar fields has been very interesting, as has exposure to advanced coursework. I have benefited greatly from the enhanced statistical and fisheries training, and coursework that an advanced degree has provided.

5. When and why did you first become involved with AFS and the FHS?
I first became involved with AFS shortly after completing my undergraduate degree and gaining employment. My involvement with the FHS soon followed and, as part of my employment agreement, I completed certification as an Aquatic Animal Health Inspector in 2011. I have been involved with both AFS and the FHS as well as at the Chapter and Subunit levels since then.

6. What are your long-term professional goals (FHS or otherwise)?
I really enjoyed my employment with the State of Montana and all of the fieldwork associated with that position. I would entertain fish health employment if there were a strong fieldwork component to the job. I have learned that I do not enjoy doing entirely one thing (fieldwork, labwork, or paperwork) so my ideal job would have a little of each but not too much of one. I am also very fond of the intermountain west, so ideally I would find a job somewhere in that region.

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.