Lian on her research and the Virtual Annual Meeting

Lian Guo is the subject of our member spotlight this month. If you were a part of this year’s Virtual Annual Meeting (VAM), you may have caught her presentation, co-organized symposium, or seen her posts on the discussion channels in Slack – another option provided for students and professionals to communicate during the Annual Meeting. Lian describes her involvement in AFS, her participation in the 2020 AFS VAM, her research with river herring, and reveals some of her “fishy” art projects.

I have been a member of the American Fisheries Society since 2015, when I started graduate school. I helped start the University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Subunit. After attending the 2018 AFS annual meeting in Atlantic City, I became more involved in the Equal Opportunities Section (EOS), specifically volunteering to help with communication and outreach efforts. I then ran and was elected to be the new Outreach and Communications Chair, the position I currently hold with the EOS section. I serve as a liaison between the EOS executive committee, section members, and other sections/chapters of AFS. I have also been involved in my local chapter, the Southern New England Chapter (SNEC) by attending conferences and serving on the planning committee for the 2020 SNEC Winter Meeting. I developed advertising materials and worked to increase representation of students from diverse schools in the Southern New England area.

At this year’s virtual annual meeting, I helped with several organizational tasks, moderated a session, and listened to several talks and plenaries. As part of the Equal Opportunities Section, I helped organize Diversity and Inclusion Day (Sep 15). I also organized a symposium titled “Forage Fish and Climate Adaptation: Updates on Science and Management” and ran a live panel with some of our symposium speakers. My talk was part of this symposium, titled “Can Food Availability Mitigate the Physiological Impacts of Temperature in Juvenile Blueback Herring?”. I attended the Fish Habitat Business meeting as a Travel Award recipient and member.

I am starting my sixth year as a PhD Candidate in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In my dissertation research, I study the thermal ecophysiology of larval and juvenile river herring (alewife and blueback herring). Both river herring species are important anadromous forage fish along the eastern United States. However, little is known about which factors affect river herring productivity, especially during early freshwater life stages. In my research, I use a combination of laboratory and field approaches to determine how temperature affects survival, growth, and energetics under different levels of food availability. I am finding that while juvenile river herring can survive relatively high temperatures (greater than current maximums), their growth rates and energetic condition are strongly impacted by food availability and temperatures they normally experience during summer. I hope that this data will help inform us how river herring populations, and thus predator populations, will be affected by climate change. I am also validating the use of daily increments to measure growth rate in juvenile river herring. As a side project, I also worked with an interdisciplinary group of graduate students, examining the socioeconomic composition of subsistence fishers in urban areas and whether their fishing practices are incorporated into urban planning and biomonitoring practices. We found that subsistence fishers include disadvantaged communities (e.g. racial minorities), and that urban planning policy documents make minimal or no mention of subsistence fishing. High percentages of fish species caught by subsistence fishers had not been tested for methylmercury levels within 5+ years, exposing fishers to unknown health risks.

In life outside AFS, I sometimes do amateur art projects to de-stress and 9/10 times I draw, paint, or make fish. I made a cowfish outfit for Halloween one year…I may have an unhealthy obsession with cowfish. Have a look at a sample of projects I’ve done!

Lian Guo’s art projects include a cowfish-themed Halloween.