Student & Early Career Professionals Subsection of the Education Section of the American Fisheries Society
2023 Excomm Nomination Bios!
Education and Experience: My name is Carrie Pershyn, and I am an early career professional interested in serving as the President for the AFS Student and Early Career Professional Subsection Executive Committee. I currently work as Biodiversity Research Manager for the Ausable River Association, a nonprofit watershed conservation and research organization in the Adirondack mountains of upstate NY. I graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY in 2018 with an M.S. in Fish and Wildlife Biology and Management. I also hold a B.S. in Ecology from Plattsburgh State University. My graduate thesis research at ESF focused on Brook Trout habitat use, recruitment, and population genetics in high elevation, groundwater-fed tributaries of the headwaters of the Ausable River. I am formally trained in natural history and ecology of freshwater habitats, with a variety of past research experience on terrestrial and aquatic wildlife in the Northeastern USA and beyond. My research program focuses on climate change impacts on freshwater ecosystems, and my active research includes the use of environmental DNA to understand the distribution and recovery of Atlantic salmon and brook trout in tributaries to Lake Champlain. We regularly utilize electrofishing, eDNA, snorkeling to assess fish populations in our watershed.
AFS Involvement: I have been a member of the American Fisheries Society since 2015 and am a member of the Student and Early Career Professionals subsection, the Northeastern Division, and Genetics Section. In 2022, I served as Northeastern Division Representative on the Student and Early Career Professionals Executive Committee. I attend the NY chapter meetings annually and have participated in one NED meeting (2014) and one AFS annual meeting (Atlantic City). During my time at SUNY-ESF, I was an active member of the SUNY-ESF Student Chapter and participated in all meetings and activities during 2016-2017. I have attended several NY chapter business meetings, and this has led to an interest in becoming more involved at the national AFS level.
Intended Representative Contribution: As an early career professional, I feel I have much experience to share with student members. While serving as 2022 Northeastern Division Representative for the Student and Early Career Professional Subsection Executive Committee, I enjoyed contributing to the SECP executive committee meetings throughout the year and disseminating information and activities of the subsection to the Northeastern Division regional student sub-units. With a background in bookkeeping and accounting, as well as managing large multi-year grant budgets at my organization, I bring professional experience with finances to the committee. As President, I’d work towards our larger goals in communication and support of the student and ECP members of the AFS, alongside specific goals of reclaiming management of the committee’s bank accounts and working closely with the Education subsection to organize student travel awards and programming for the 2023 AFS Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, MI. The past year of serving as NED representative on the Committee has allowed me to understand the aims of this group and I look forward to bringing that knowledge to this position.
Abigail is an early career fisheries scientist and current master’s student with a love for all things related to fish and communication. She earned her undergraduate degree in marine science, with a minor in English, from the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford, ME in 2019. While at UNE, Abigail worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Sulikowski Fish and Shark Research Lab and conducted two research projects studying the age and growth of Gulf of Mexico elasmobranchs. As an undergraduate, she attended and presented at her first AFS annual meeting in Atlantic City; this was one of the most formative experiences of her career. She loved meeting likeminded fish fanatics and learning about current fisheries research. Being able to form strong connections at an early point in her career was very impactful and has led to her continued interest in remaining active with AFS.
After graduating, Abigail worked as a fisheries biologist for Normandeau Associates, Inc., where she assisted with multiple large-scale radio telemetry studies evaluating fish passage effectiveness for river herring, American shad, American eel, and Atlantic salmon smolts. Abigail then returned to UNE in 2021 for her master’s in marine science with Dr. John Mohan. She is currently in her second year and conducts research on vertebral elemental chemistry of sharks to answer questions surrounding age information and population connectivity. She also serves as the president and treasurer of the marine & biological science student government and attends biweekly meetings with the graduate student government. As a part of her tenure, Abigail has secured weekly free lunches for the marine & biological science graduate students and ensured all students have equal opportunities and rights within their respective programs. Throughout her career, Abigail has also done occasional freelance writing for environmentally driven non-profit organizations, as science communication is one of her greatest passions.
One of the highlights of Abigail’s master’s experience has been her increased involvement with AFS. She attended and presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting in Baltimore with the support of the AFS Estuaries Section travel award. She then received an honorable mention for the Skinner Award, which enabled her to attend the 2022 Annual Meeting in Spokane where she once again presented her research, and received the Mote Award for excellence in research on recreationally important species. She is a member of the SECP, Education, Equal Opportunities, Estuaries, Marine Fisheries and Science Communication Sections, as well as the Southern New England Chapter (SNEC)- and is looking forward to attending her first SNEC meeting in January of 2023! With her fellow grad students, she is helping to start a student chapter of AFS at UNE and currently serves as the vice president of the group. As secretary-treasurer of the Student and Early Career Professional Subsection, Abigail will bring her experience as student government president and treasurer, as well as her organization and communication skills and meticulous attention to detail. She would welcome the opportunity to give back to the SECP subsection, which has bolstered her own professional development and helped to connect her to AFS at large.
Hi, my name is Lauren Yancy and I’d like to nominate myself to serve as the Secretary-Treasurer for 2023 and/or to serve on the social media and website team. I’ve been involved in AFS since 2018, serving as the President of the Texas A&M University Student Subunit for two years before graduating in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries Sciences. I have since served on the AFS Hutton Committee and was the Western Division Representative this previous term. I’ve attended state and national AFS conferences where I presented undergraduate research, volunteered behind the scenes, and visited with students from all over sharing experiences. I’m currently a habitat biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and previously was a fisheries technician at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where I met many AFS and fisheries students. As much as I am passionate about working in a natural resources career, I am just as passionate about sparking interest in others and assisting them in succeeding in a fisheries career. As your Secretary-Treasurer, I will attend SECP EXCOMM meetings, I will keep organized and detail notes to accurately record events, and I will stay connected as the correspondent on behalf of the SECP subsection. I hope to continue involvement in AFS Education Section later in my career and serving as the Secretary-Treasurer would be a great steppingstone to branch my experience.
I’d also like to participate on the social media/website teams because I’d like to get social media and our SECP website a bit more active. This past year, I collected periodic updates from subunits who had news to report, and in the future, I’d like these subunit reports to be displayed on our website or social media, so other students across AFS can be inspired by others. I fully believe in the mission of the SECP subsection and have personally benefitted from my time in AFS. I’d like to give back to the subsection by serving once again on the executive committee.
My name is Victor Awugo, and I am nominating myself for the AFS student leadership position of Secretary-Treasurer. I have been a member of AFS for few months and am eager to continue my involvement by serving in a leadership capacity. I’m in the final year of my undergraduate studies from the department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology at the Federal University of Technology Akure, South-West Nigeria. Expected graduation date (March, 2023) pursuing a career in fisheries management and conservation. My Bachelor's thesis, which is currently being reviewed, is on the "Determination of Heavy Metals Concentration in African Pike (Hepstetus Odoe) from a major freshwater water in South West Nigeria".
The findings of this study have broadened my knowledge and skills through field data collection and laboratory experimental work. All through my undergraduate study, I have been opportune to work with several organisations to overcome many challenges and set a tone for the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector in Nigeria. I was part of a four-person team put together by one of my lecturers to handle consultancy projects. Under his supervision, we designed and executed several aquaculture projects. One that readily comes to mind is the revamping of an almost failing farm. Together with the team, we reconstructed earthen ponds for culture, drew up a water management plan to service the ponds, provided about 10,000 quality fish seeds for stocking, and helped to get quality prepared feeds. As part of efforts to ensure the farm was well managed, we trained four (4) farm staff on best management practices and made periodic visits to the farm afterwards to monitor its progress. At the end of that production cycle, the farm posted a return of investment of 30%. This experience was instrumental in me securing an internship role with a fledgling commercial farm.
I would appreciate the opportunity to participate and to contribute to the SECP activities in a profiting way, such as creating awareness of AFS, which I had no knowledge of when I started my undergraduate career, and I would love to help encourage younger students to get involved with such an influential society and help build their careers, providing experience related to my background, skills in detail orientation and my curiosity and drive for learning, to improve communication and involvement within myself and the societies I participate in.
Thank you for your consideration.
Manuel Alejandro Soto Davila
I am very pleased to self-nominate as a Canadian Representative for the 2023 AFS Student and Early Career Subsection Executive Committee. I am a highly motivated, marine biologist looking to gain experience in leadership and committee participation. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Waterloo with Dr. Brian Dixon, working on fish health in aquaculture and my goal is to obtain experience in this topic while being part of the American Fisheries Society.
I developed my interest in fish health and aquaculture early in my undergraduate studies. During my undergraduate Marine Biology thesis, I supervised by Dr. Luis Vargas-Chacoff, I studies bacterial diseases in aquaculture and the impact on native fish species. My motivation and academic performance led to my acceptance into the Master in Aquaculture program at Memorial University, NL, Canada, supervised by Dr. Javier Santander. My research focused in evaluating the impact of Aeromonas salmonicida, the causative agent of the furunculosis, in two of the most important Canadian Atlantic fish species, the Atlantic cod and Atlantic salmon. While I worked in Dr. Santander’s lab, I had the chance to give one poster and one oral presentation at the 8th International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health 2018, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, which was my introduction to the American Fisheries Society.
After my M.Sc., I moved to Waterloo to do a Ph.D. in immunology at the University of Waterloo with Dr. Brian Dixon, Canada Research Chair in Fish and Environmental Immunology. My current Ph.D. thesis examines disease susceptibility, and resistance in triploid Chinook salmon and compensation mechanisms that may ultimately reduce the risk of disease. Additionally, the to see if the performance of triploid Chinook salmon can be improved through probiotic diet supplementation. My performance on my first two years resulted in a Snieszko Student Travel Award to present in the 9th International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health, Santiago, Chile last September.
Having the chance to participate in the Aquatic Animal Health Symposium not only provided a great experience that improved my skills and expanded my scientific network, but also greatly motivated me to become more involved in the AFS and increase my direct collaboration with its members. I firmly believe that the network I obtained during my five years in Canada, along with the help that the AFS team would provide, make me a good candidate to be on the AFS Student and Early Career Subsection Executive Committee as the Canadian Representative.
Thank you for taking the time to review my nomination.
Education and Experience: I am in the second year of my PhD at the University of Toronto Scarborough under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas Mandrak. Previously, I attended McMaster University for my undergrad and was first introduced to aquatic research in Dr. Sigal Balshine’s lab. Here, I completed projects and an Honours thesis studying the impacts of wastewater effluent on fish behaviour and rotifer abundance at different temperatures. After graduation, I continued in the lab as a research assistant and manager, maintaining animal welfare during the pandemic.
My current research uses eDNA methods to examine fish communities across a variety of contexts including nearshore ecosystem health assessments, detection of sensitive species in agricultural drains, and passive sampling in offshore environments. Most of this work is done in partnership with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), whose territory includes hundreds of kilometers of Lake Huron shoreline. Moving forward, I hope to further develop genetic methods of fish population monitoring with the goal of making conservation efforts more efficient.
In my spare time, I enjoy participating in science outreach, whether related to my research or not. To be transparent about my research with SON, I have presented my work at a Pow Wow and other community events. My local involvement has included teaching the public about microplastics in aquatic ecosystems with the U of T Trash Team, teaching grade school children fundamental concepts with Let’s Talk Science and volunteering to tutor underprivileged youth with United for Literacy U of T.
AFS Involvement: Currently, I am the AFS Ontario Chapter Student Subunit GTA representative. In this role, I encourage graduate and undergraduate students to join the AFS and the AFS-OC student subunit. I also work with the subunit and EXCOM to organize educational and fun events for all subunit members, often in the GTA. I have attended AFS-OC annual meetings in-person and virtually, presenting on my undergrad research in 2020 then my PhD research at JASM in 2022.
Intended Contribution: As AFS SECP Canadian Division Representative, I intend to encourage students and early career professionals in Canada to share their ideas and issues concerning the Society so they may be discussed with the subunit and EXCOM. My main objective is to ensure flow of communication in both directions and help members feel included in a collaborative environment. Additionally, I want to instill a sense of community among fishery students/early career professionals in Canada by organizing social and educational events as well as professional development workshops.
Thank you for your consideration.
North Central Representative
My name is Logan Zebro, and I was nominated by Hadley Boehm to serve as the SEPAC Subsection NCD Representative. I am a first-year master’s student at the University of Nebraska-Kearney in Dr. Melissa Wuellner and Dr. Keith Koupal’s lab. My thesis work is evaluating the contribution of walleye fry and fingerling stockings to the fall age-0 catch in Lake McConaughy, NE as well as assessing the impact of invasive alewives on juvenile walleye survival. I received my B.S. from South Dakota State University in wildlife and fisheries sciences. I grew up in Northern WI where I spent much of my free time exploring and appreciating the great outdoors and ultimately decided I wanted to take that passion for the outdoors and turn it into a career. Each summer during my undergraduate education I worked as a fisheries technician for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Three of those years were spent at the Northern Highland Fishery Research Area where I was able to get experience and earn a great appreciation for the research side of fisheries science. Between my undergraduate education, technician experience, and now my role as a master’s student I have a wide range of experience in Midwest fisheries, particularly focusing on walleye management and research.
I am currently a member of the Student and Early Career Professionals subsection, the North Central Division of AFS, and the NCD Walleye Technical Committee. Looking back, I wish I had been more active in AFS as an undergraduate student. I attended my first AFS meeting (virtually unfortunately) towards the end of undergraduate education. Even though that meeting was virtual due to COVID I was still able to get a sense of what a great organization AFS is and the benefits, relationships, and learning opportunities that can arise from being involved in AFS. Therefore, one of my goals as a graduate student was to become more involved in AFS to increase my fisheries science skills and to interact and create with relationships with other students and professionals. If I were elected as the next NCD representative for the SEPAC I would continue to expand on the great work carried out by the current representative, Hadley Boehm. COVID resulted in a lack of communication between the SEPAC and student subunits, so Hadley spent much of her time as representative getting in touch with student subunits to determine which ones were still active and to update contact information if necessary. I would use this updated contact list to reestablish communications between the SEPAC and student subunits and to facilitate updates regarding scholarship opportunities, training opportunities, and graduate school/job postings in addition to other relevant information for students and early career professionals. I would certainly enjoy this opportunity to continue my involvement in AFS and to help students and early career professionals that are seeking resources to excel in this career field.
I’d [Dr. Pennuto] like to nominate my graduate student, Mr. Kyle Glenn, for consideration as a member of your student leadership team. Kyle has been an AFS, and regional chapter member, for couple of years, attending both virtual and in-person conferences, regional chapter and joint aquatic sciences meetings. Thus, he has begun his early professional career on a fisheries path. Kyle was recently asked to sit on the board for a statewide native fishes conservation organization just getting established here in New York and will be a fine board member and great asset to your student team. Kyle will complete his MS degree this fall and is pursuing PhD opportunities, with intentions to remain active in the AFS throughout his career. He has a wealth of scientific and recreational fishing knowledge (mostly fly fishing for trout) and has created a fishing blog and an app for invasive fish observations submitted by ice anglers. His MS work focused on invasive fish and their potential to alter energy and resource subsidies connecting upstream and downstream reaches (invertebrate drift) and in-stream to riparian connections (emergence effects on spiders). I offer his nomination with reservation.
Experience: I have a wide range of experience working with federal, state, and academic research institutions. While pursuing my undergraduate degree I worked as a remote base camp manager for the National Park Service in Eagle, AK and as a wildland firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management in Rock Spring, WY. Since completing my undergraduate program, I have worked for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries as a fisheries technician across the state of NC. After this, I worked as a research technician at UNC Institute of Marine Sciences before starting my PhD program at ECU. I am a native of North Carolina and a lifelong angler.
Education: I received my B.S. in Environmental Science (Natural Resources Management) from the University of Montana – Western. I am currently a 3rd Year PhD Student in Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Biology, Biomedicine and Chemistry at the East Carolina University Coastal Studies Institute.
My PhD research focuses on using acoustic techniques (e.g. acoustic telemetry, acoustic imaging, multibeam and splitbeam sonar) to investigate the impacts of anthropogenic changes on understudied, and often difficult to sample, fish habitats. For my most recent project, I am using an acoustic imaging system to explore how coastal inlet channel dredging impacts utilization in terms of fish abundances, distributions, and movement patterns.
AFS Involvement: I have been the treasurer of the ECU AFS Student Subunit since the 2021. I have led fundraising efforts and managed/recorded our club funds during that time. Last year I worked with the ECU Student Government Association to fund conference registrations and lodging fees for 12 members of our subunit to attend the 2022 Tidewater Meeting. Many of them were able to present their work at and academic conference for the first time, at no cost to themselves. I was also an integral part of the planning and execution of the 2022 Tidewater AFS Meeting, where our research lab hosted a 100-person meeting with student, faculty, and professional attendees from across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States. I have attended the Tidewater AFS Meeting in 2021 and 2022, the National AFS Meeting in 2021 and will be at a minimum attending the Tidewater and Southern Division Meeting in 2023.
Intended Contribution: I intend to encourage active communication with chapters and subunits within the Southern region. I want to get information from all the member units regarding their research projects and recent accomplishments so we can highlight the breadth of study of across the South and the achievements of our members. I also want to open discussion and work with university student subunits in particular to help them grow membership and participation. Anecdotally, I have seen decreased involvement, investment, and membership across multiple AFS student subunits since the rise of COVID-19. Students and early career professionals are the future of AFS, and it is vital that we work together to grow our membership and continue to provide benefits to help our current members succeed. The networking opportunities afforded to AFS members is a critical function of our society. Furthermore, I will participate in whatever special committee roles are needed by the EXCOM (as specified in the Procedural Manual).
My name is Chase Spicer and I am a currently graduate student in the biology program at East Carolina University. I am also currently the president of the ECU American Fisheries Society Subunit. My research currently focuses on using Environmental DNA (eDNA), to monitor and track river herring movements within the lower Roanoke River.
Growing up enjoying the outdoors fishing throughout the southeastern United States with my family I always knew I wanted to work as a fisheries biologist. My goal was and has always been to inspire others to help conserve and protect our precious aquatic natural resources. Growing up in Western North Carolina I started fly fishing and working with Trout Unlimited at a young age. Before graduating from Western Carolina University and heading east I served as the Fly Fishing Club president, served on the Fiver Rivers Conservation Grant Fund Committee, and also started working on fisheries research. In my time there I worked to help spread the word about coldwater conservation with TU, introduced kids at local schools to fly fishing and aquatic ecology, the importance of clean water, and also volunteered with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Here at ECU, our subunit's mission has been to introduce people to fisheries research, increase involvement, and get the public in our region excited about fisheries conservation. Over the past year, we have introduced people to fishing for the first time by hosting trips to the Outer Banks for students here at ECU. We have also readily participated in shad in the classroom, a program in partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Subunit members travel to local schools to teach middle and high school students about the importance of shad and anadromous fish in Eastern North Carolina and members also lead fish dissections. It's one of the most rewarding experiences seeing kids' faces light up and get excited about fisheries research! I have worked on the Roanoke River with The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sustainable Rivers Program to monitor restoration success using eDNA. I have volunteered in Eastern N.C. with the Wildlife Resources Commission in invasive species removal at Lake Mattumaskeet and assisted with anadromous fish sampling on the Neuse River.
My goal as a representative would be to work diligently alongside the other EXCOM members to help promote and excite others around the country about fisheries. I would also work hard to promote mentorship opportunities for both undergraduates and high school students to get involved in fisheries research and conservation. Our young members in AFS who are students or early career professionals are the future of research and conservation in fisheries. It would be an honor to serve as the representative of the Southern Division of AFS on the Student and Early Career Professional Subsection Executive Committee.
Hello, my name is Melissa Marsh and I live in the DFW (Texas) area. I’m in the last year of my undergraduate degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Science as well as a double degree in Sustainability. I come from a military background and spent most of my 20’s in the United States Air Force. When I was honorably discharged, I made a plan to stay at home with my children and pursue my degree full time. While in the early stages of my degree I discovered that I was in love with fish and conservation and decided to focus all of my electives on fish health and management. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of a community of shared interests and being a student representative for the American Fisheries Society is an excellent opportunity to get involved and meet my peers. We are all in the process of entering this career field and I want to do my absolute best to make connections and continue to build a strong community of AFS student and early career professions for the Southern division. Though I do not have much field experience yet, it is my last year and I am actively looking for all sorts of opportunities. I’m active in my schools ecampus fisheries and wildlife students FB and currently serve as the main administrator. Besides being a member of AFS, I am also a member of the Texas chapter, The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Wounded Warrior project, and the DFW Aquarium Association.
Adrienne Chenette is an active early-career fisheries professional from California. She holds two bachelor’s degrees in wildlife biology (aquatics focus) and ecosystem science & restoration from the University of Montana. Since graduating in 2019, Adrienne has worked up and down the coast of California from the Klamath River to the Santa Ana River, with CA Sea Grant and NOAA through the Americorps Watershed Stewards program, Moss Landing Marine Labs, and now the USFS. She is first and foremost a salmonid lover but has recently branched out to catostomids and herps in her current position at the Angeles National Forest. Adrienne has been involved with AFS at multiple levels, from serving as the Vice President for the University of Montana student subunit, to volunteering on the Riparian Award Committee for the Western Division of AFS . Adrienne would make an outstanding Western Representative for the Students and Early Career Professionals subsection executive committee because she is very passionate about fisheries, AFS, and holding space for diverse voices and perspectives.
Purpose: I am applying for the position as I hope to contribute and bring awareness and following to AFS; a society that has an obvious devotion and passion for conservation and health of watersheds and fisheries. Having been a citizen of the Pacific Northwest my entire life; I am able to understand both the current and historical significance watersheds and healthy fisheries provide. Recreating and living next door to these systems I have witnessed firsthand many of the challenges present day fisheries face and would love to have a bigger part in helping protect and conserve these resources.
Experience: Professionally, I am currently a registered professional engineer in the state of Montana delivering fish passage, culvert replacement hydraulic modeling, stream restoration and environmental remediation projects throughout the western United States and Pacific Northwest. I have delivered over 30 fish passage projects, and multiple stream restoration and dam breach analyses projects throughout the Pacific Northwest as the lead project/design engineer and hydrologist. In support of these projects, I identify quality fish habitat and provide both design, management, and planning on improvement projects. I often work with public municipalities, federal agencies and tribes in order to help the construct and deliver these important projects while being an advocate for habitat improvement in the local communities I work with and in. Serving in a representative role on projects I have experience working with a variety of professionals, community members and city officials. This has given me valuable skills to be able to lead and work with people coming from a variety of different backgrounds and will also help me with advocating for AFS both internally and externally to get others involved and aware of the great things that AFS does.
Education: I am currently a graduate student at Montana State University – I am studying Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences with an anticipated graduation in 2024. I have 4.0 GPA and have been taking courses in watershed sciences, and environmental sciences/monitoring, I believe this has given me a strong foundation in the academic world and will also allow me to make connections with people in the campus community sharing similar passions.
AFS Involvement: I am a recent AFS member but have always been aware of the society and have read many publications, since joining I have attended webinars and look forward to expanding my role in the society and finding more local members to me to interact with and grow interest in the society.
Intended Contribution: My intended contribution as the western representative is to promote subsection membership and be an active member on special committees. I also plan to provide the biannual reports to the subsection EXCOM of the subsection as required by the position and brining new creative ideas and potential events to spur interest in the subsection.
In summary of my qualifications, I believe I would be a great fit for the Western Representative opening and that it would be an amazing opportunity for me both professionally and personally.
Thank you, Jason Neibergs
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