Senior Research Associate
Research and teaching focus on fish biology and sustainable aquaculture.
My research has examined the endocrine regulation of appetite and growth in fish, with applied work on developing aquaculture feeding protocols and testing sustainable sources of protein for fish feeds. Before joining Cornell, I worked in the aquaculture industry for a number of years on sturgeon and striped bass production, as well as on seafood industry sustainability certification and traceability. The goal of my work at Cornell is promoting resourceful methods to help grow a much-needed U.S. aquaculture industry, which will ease pressure on wild fish stocks while improving our nation’s food security.
I am currently working on several projects in conjunction with Food Science, Natural Resources, and Sea Grant.
Fish silage-based aquaculture feed: Identifying high quality, economical protein sources for use in aquaculture feeds is prerequisite to transitioning away from our dependence on heavily pressured wild fisheries, and toward farming fish, as we do with all of our other foods. In an effort to reduce the amount of industrial fishmeal - which is made primarily from overharvested wild baitfish (anchovies, menhaden, etc.) - in aquaculture feeds, we are working on methods to salvage the nutrients in discarded fish carcasses left over from seafood processing facilities. In collaboration with Dr. Joe Regenstein (Food Science) and several seafood industry partners, we are investigating an ensilation process (enzymatic tissue breakdown followed by acid stabilization) to preserve fish offal without refrigeration, followed by the application of a hydrocolloid binder to gellify the material into a water-stable aquafeed. This process will re-purpose large amounts of wasted fish protein to offset the use of fishmeal in aquaculture production, and simultaneously reduce the carbon footprint and cost of feed manufacturing. (Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future)
Sex-determination in sturgeon: We currently sequencing the first sturgeon reference genome to search for a cryptic sex-linked marker. Sturgeon aquaculture takes fishing pressure off of severely depleted wild stocks, and also provides a rare opportunity to study this ancient fish lineage. In collaboration with Dr. Nina Therkildsen (Natural Resources) and several sturgeon farms, we are using high-throughput sequencing technology to survey genome-wide patterns of genetic differentiation between male and female sturgeon to search for unique gene sequences that are diagnostic of sex. We are proposing to use similar methods to identify markers for other desirable aquaculture traits in sturgeon broodstock, as well. (USDA/NIFA Federal Capacity Fund)
Offshore aquaculture: In conjunction with New Hampshire Sea Grant, we are working to establish an aquaculture research and teaching program at Shoals Marine Lab to help traditional fishermen earn a living on the water in the face of depleted cod stocks. We are focusing on the concept of Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA), which involves a steelhead trout net pen surrounded by rows of mussels and kelp that biologically uptake uneaten fish feed and nitrogen in the water, preventing eutrophication of the surrounding environment. In this arrangement, the secondary crops clean the water while while creating several additional tons of edible seafood products.
Outreach and Extension Focus
In conjunction with the CCE and NY Sea Grant, we have created an undergraduate summer internship aimed at promoting seafood that is locally and sustainably grown or harvested in NY state. The intern also informs the public and school teachers about aquaculture, wild fisheries, seafood health and locally available seafood products to build a NY state brand and teach people to be educated seafood consumers.
I teach Fish Physiology (AnSci 3300) and guest lecture on fish biology or aquaculture subjects in several other classes. I serve as Cornell’s Academic Coordinator for Shoals Marine Lab, our teaching and research outpost on Appledore Island, which is part of the Isles of Shoals archipelago off of the NH/ME coast. I serve as an undergraduate advisor in the Animal Science Dept., mentor to undergrad RAs and Honors Thesis students, and help oversee a Sustainable Seafood internship at New York Sea Grant. My door is open to anyone interested in talking about fish or aquaculture.
Awards and Honors
- Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Faculty Fellow (2016) Cornell University