Click here for the 2024 Excomm Nomination Bios!

President-Elect

Hadley Boehm

My name is Hadley Boehm, and I would like to serve as the SECP Subsection President Elect. I just completed my PhD and will begin a post doc in January at Mizzou. I hold a B.S. in Biology from Alma College in MI, and M.S. degrees from the UW-Madison and UW-Stevens Point. I worked between degrees so have also been a fisheries management biologist for WI and MN DNRs. I believe my education, work experience, interest in fisheries research and teaching/mentoring, and history of AFS service have prepared me for SECP leadership. I would foster inclusivity within the Subsection, identify programming most relevant to students/ ECPs, and advocate for student/ECPs within AFS.

When I attended my first AFS chapter meeting I was nervous because I felt like an outsider and there were no student/ECP activities. After a couple years, I decided I wanted to change that so worked with the WIAFS ExCom to create the position of Student Subunit Coordinator that I held from 2014-16, and during which time I introduced professional development events and a student-professional mentee-mentor luncheon which remain components of chapter meetings. In 2018, the WIAFS ExCom recognized the need for a formal Student Affairs Committee of which I was the inaugural chair, and when the Midwest F&W Conference came to Milwaukee (2018), I chaired the committee that organized student/ECP activities for the conference, again planning professional development activities, mentor-mentee meet ups, and networking events. I have learned more about AFS by chairing the webinar committee for the Ed Section and by being the Ed Section newsletter co-editor and Equal Opportunities Section co-treasurer since 2021. My involvement outside of basic membership in the SECP Subsection began in 2022-23 when I was the NCD representative, during which time I identified the post-COVID status of division subunits and obtained current contact information for officers and faculty advisors to facilitate SECP communication. In 2022-23, I also revived the defunct NCD Student Affairs Committee into the Student and Early Career Professionals Affairs Committee (SECPAC). During my tenure as co-chair of the SECPAC we grew a core group of around 15 active members who participate in regular meetings and 75+ members who subscribe to meeting minutes and other communications. Since 2022, SECPAC members have gained experience planning conference symposia, facilitating meetings, developing a listserv, holding sub-committee chair/state representative roles, and planning social/educational events. While I transitioned out of my co-chair position in 2023, I think it is important to remain involved and pass on what I learned, so am still active in organizing student/ECP activities and mentoring newer SECPAC leaders.

As the SECP Subsection President Elect I would be a strong advocate for students/ECPs to the parent society. I think term/soft funded ECPs are frequently overlooked, and am interested in exploring ways to make professional society meeting attendance and participation financially inclusive to both ECPs and students through virtual options, travel grants for which ECPs are eligible, workshops outside of annual meetings, and/or regional student/ECP events such as conclaves or trainings that are more affordable to attend, networking opportunities, and relevant to younger cohorts of professionals. I would continue to be a voice for students/ECPs on the AFS membership committee, continue updating the SECP Subsection website, and work with the Ed Section to identify relevant educational programming and foster opportunities for interested students/ECPs to shadow officers and/or discuss roles. I would also like to initiate a “near-peer” mentoring program among members of the SECP Subsection. Life as a student/ECP frequently involves field work, travel, moves, unreliable funding, and academic benchmarks which can deter members from AFS involvement out of concern for over-commitment or uncertainty, and becoming involved can be intimidating when many of us are already struggling with imposter syndrome. Thus, I would apply the same philosophy that I did for the SECPAC which included a team approach and a welcoming environment to members of varying career stages and availability where we support each other up during the intermittently busy times inherent at this stage in our careers and work as a team to share duties and learn together.

Secretary-Treasurer

Matea Djokic

My name is Matea Djokic and I am a fourth year PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine, and I am interested in serving as the Secretary-Treasurer for the AFS SECP Subsection Executive Committee! I am currently studying how urban runoff pollution affects the gut microbiome and physiology of fish resident to Orange County, California. I began my fisheries career as a Fisheries Intern with South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks in 2017 where I gained invaluable experience alongside seasoned biologists while conducting creel and routine fish monitoring surveys. In 2020, I graduated with my MS in Fish and Wildlife Management from Montana State University where I worked on a nonlethal field health assessment to assess juvenile pallid sturgeon in the Upper Basin of the Missouri River. During my doctoral studies at UCI, I also interned for FISHBIO where I led, carried out, and reported on rainbow trout abundance surveys, wrote Fish Reports (science communication newsletters), and updated memos to communicate our work with various stakeholders. I am passionate about native fishes and in my career, I strive to use novel applications of physiological approaches to inform our management and conservation of at-risk and endangered species.

I attended my first AFS meeting in 2019 and have attended AFS meetings every year (apart from the pandemic) since, to present on my master’s and doctoral research. During my participation with AFS, I have received an immense amount of support from the society both for travel (through the WDAFS Travel Grant and the AFS Skinner Memorial Award) to annual meetings and research (Cal-Neva AFS Small Research Grant) and was recently recognized as the runner up for the J. Frances Allen Award in 2023. AFS has been an integral player in my personal, professional, and academic development. As such, I wanted to introduce others to AFS and founded the AFS Student Subunit at UCI in 2021 where I served as President for two years. During my presidency, I grew our chapter membership to nearly 40 students, spearheaded our first fundraising campaign to fund student activities, served as the liaison between AFS at UCI and the Cal-Neva ExComm, and organized professional development, public outreach, and guest speaker events for our students. As I am hoping to graduate in 2024, I stepped down from my role as President and now serve in a Past-President mentorship role to the current AFS at UCI ExComm. I have also participated in Annual Meeting planning with Cal-Neva since 2021, and I am a co-chair of the Merchandise Committee for Cal-Neva AFS and am part of the WDAFS Early Career Professional Committee.

I am looking to continue my involvement in AFS leadership, and I would be thrilled to be the next Secretary-Treasurer! I am enthusiastic about engaging students and young professionals and will bring my experience as President of AFS at UCI to the AFS SECP Subsection ExComm if given the opportunity. I am passionate about education, outreach, and mentorship and would be elated to help amplify student and early career professionals’ voices at the table with AFS.

Kwesi Easton

Kwesi Easton is a rising fifth-year senior from the District of Columbia (DC) Metropolitan Area attending Howard University (HU). His course of study is a dual major combination of Mechanical Engineering and Biology, a combination which is the first of its kind due to the university’s current discourse about revising their memorandums of understanding across each school and college throughout this next presidential term. In addition to his dual major, Kwesi is a minor student in the Dance Theatre Arts program within the HU Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. He also completed two minors in Chemistry and Mathematics as both minors are built into his respective major coursework: Chemistry in Biology, and Mathematics in Mechanical Engineering. Ultimately, he is set to graduate in May 2025. As a student on campus, Kwesi is a member of the third cohort of the Karsh STEM Scholars Program founded at HU in 2016. A program founded with the mission “to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who earn a PhD or combined MD/PhD in a STEM discipline” with an interest in pursuing a career in education, research, policy development, or leadership in a corporate or government setting. His professional interest is in Biomechanics with a special concentration in Sports & Exercise. With that in mind, Kwesi has built a sound professional perspective by engaging in various levels of biomehcanic research in different contexts ranging from neuroscience, evolutionary biology of aquatic species, and applied rehabilitative studies in clinical spaces. Additionally, he has served his collegiate community in a number of positions throughout the years: Deputy Advocacy Director for HU Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality (CASCADE), Howard University’s oldest queer organization; Social Media Director for the Howard Chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; and Fundraising Chair for the Howard Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. And as much as Kwesi has served at Howard University, he has also been fortunate enough to be a member and recipient of additional service initiatives outside of Howard University. In Fall 2021, Kwesi attended the American Fisheries Society (AFS) 151st annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland as a result of their historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) initiative in providing more membership access and funding opportunities for underrepresented minorities in the field. He has remained a student member of the organization since. Kwesi’s interest in serving as the 2024-25 Secretary-Treasurer for the Student and Early Career Professionals Subsection (SECP) Executive Committee is to primarily learn more about the internal workings of organization while also being able to provide ideas for future student service and outreach initiatives. Provided his former organizational positions at Howard University, he believes that the role of Secretary-Treasurer for the SECP will allow him to offer a sense of support and organization for the subsection while also adding diversity, and ultimately another sense of perspective as they move forward to develop new ways to increase student engagement. Kwesi’s hope is that his intended time as Secretary-Treasurer will result in more students like him from HBCUs or underrepresented backgrounds being more involved with the American Fisheries Society as a whole.

Victor Awugo

I am delighted to present my candidacy for the role of Secretary-Treasurer in the Student and Early Career Professional (SCEP) Subsection of the American Fisheries Society (AFS). As a dedicated Fisheries & Aquaculture Technologist, Researcher in Aquatic Toxicology, and active AFS member, I bring a wealth of diverse experiences and a steadfast commitment to sustainability, making me well-suited for this vital position.

Having recently graduated with a BTech in Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, I have honed my skills in aquatic toxicology through extensive research. My thesis, focused on the Determination of Heavy Metals Concentration in African Pike, underscores my proficiency in field data collection, analysis, and laboratory experimental work.

My affiliation with AFS commenced as a devoted member, and I presently hold the roles of International Representative and a volunteer editor for the International Fisheries Section Editorial Assistance Program. In these capacities, I contribute actively to the organization’s overarching mission of advancing fisheries science. My responsibilities involve enhancing conservation and sustainability in fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems, aligning seamlessly with the SCEP Subsection’s objectives.

As a Global Ambassador for Sustainability and an Associate Member of the International Society for Development and Sustainability (ISDS), I am deeply engaged in initiatives that champion sustainability and international collaboration. These experiences have furnished me with a comprehensive perspective and a network of professionals dedicated to sustainable development.

My role as a Campus Ambassador for International MUN underscores my commitment to education and youth empowerment. I am dedicated to fostering critical thinking and diplomacy skills among students, values that resonate harmoniously with AFS’s core mission.

If entrusted with the position of Secretary-Treasurer, my vision is to elevate communication, collaboration, and financial management within the SCEP Subsection. I am fervent about encouraging active involvement among students and early career professionals, cultivating a vibrant community that champions innovation and sustainable practices.

In conclusion, I am invigorated by the prospect of contributing to the SCEP Subsection’s growth and success. With a robust foundation in fisheries science, an unwavering commitment to sustainability, and a proven track record of leadership and engagement, I am confident in my ability to serve effectively as Secretary-Treasurer.

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