2020 Nominees

See biosketches for the nominees below. The link to cast ballots will be emailed to AFS FHS members Monday, May 10th. The election will run from Monday, May 10th through Friday, June 12th.

Vice President Nominees

Anita M. Kelly, PhD

Dr. Anita Kelly has been actively involved in the aquaculture industry for nearly 30 years. After receiving her Ph.D. in Zoology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, she was a farm manager for two private fish farms for over 8 years producing trout, channel catfish, hybrid striped bass, yellow perch, bluegill, largemouth bass, and several minnow species. She has been a faculty member at Mississippi State University and Southern Illinois University. In 2007, Dr. Kelly joined the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) as an Extension Specialist. Her work in Arkansas included supervising the four UAPB fish health laboratories, one of which was USDA approved laboratory for testing of fish for export. In 2019, Dr. Kelly moved to the Alabama Fish Farming Center, a satellite facility of Auburn University. In her current position, she provides diagnostic services to catfish, shrimp, crayfish and sportfish producers. Dr. Kelly has been an AFS/FHS Certified Aquatic Animal Inspector since 2008. Additionally, Dr. Kelly conducts applied research that assists producers with improving production methods and reducing disease incidents on farms.

Brandon Taro

Fish Health Program Coordinator
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Laramie, Wyoming

Brandon has been the fish health program coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department since 2009 and has been an AFS certified aquatic animal health inspector since 2010. His laboratory was among the first to achieve the Tier I recognition, and even though they won’t be seeking Tier II status, they will be accredited this year through another agency. Brandon co-hosted the Western Fish Disease Workshop with Colorado in 2015, and then hosted the combined Western Fish Disease Workshop, Fish Health Section meeting, and Aquatic Animal Drug Approval workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2016.

Brandon brings a broad range of experience to the table. A degree in molecular biology led him to research on West Nile virus, biological pathogen detection technology research, hepatitis B research and prion disease research for a decade. Ultimately, a phone call from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health laboratory director brought him into the fish health world.

Brandon has worked hard to transition his laboratory experience into his fish health career. He established a good working relationship with both the fish culture program and the fish management program in Wyoming, creating a collaborative and cooperative environment where all three programs can benefit from each other. This is the vision he wants to promote within the AFS-FHS, one of cooperation between various entities to benefit all, by working together to create new approaches to both existing concerns and emerging problems. Brandon firmly believes that no industry is static, that there are always new solutions waiting to be brought forth, and that he can further this vision in the fish health section as Vice President

Development Committee Nominees

David Gauthier, PhD

Dave is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and former Director of Undergraduate Research for ODU. His research revolves around ecology, population genetics, and molecular diagnostics of aquatic animal diseases, and he is also a part of the Tick Research Team at ODU, studying population genetics of tick vectors and their rickettsial pathogens.

Dave began his career as an undergraduate researcher at the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, publishing his first paper on a western blot technique to distinguish vaccination and natural infection status in dogs with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. He earned his PhD from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary working on mycobacteriosis in wild striped bass, and continued that research as an Assistant Professor at ODU. Dave is coming back to his roots in ticks and tick-borne diseases under a current Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases grant, but remains active in study of aquatic animal pathogens.

Jesse Trushenski, PhD

Jesse Trushenski is the Director of Science for Riverence Holdings, the parent organization for Riverence Farms (largest producer of farmed trout and steelhead in the USA, located in Idaho) and its sister company, Riverence Brood (a salmonid breeding company based in Washington). In this role, she provides science leadership and research project management support for Riverence’s various aquaculture-related endeavors. Before joining the private sector, Jesse was an Associate Professor at Southern Illinois University and Fish Pathologist Supervisor for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Whether it’s fish nutrition, physiology, or health, Jesse has always been driven by the practical applications of science, going from data to information and information to action. Jesse has also fulfilled numerous leadership roles within the fisheries and aquaculture communities. She has chaired or served on multiple advisory panels and other committees addressing aquaculture research, regulation, and policy on a national scale, and is the immediate Past-President of the American Fisheries Society. In this capacity, Jesse spearheaded the effort to revise the AFS FHS Blue Book and helped secure approximately $100K in funding to support this initiative.

Technical Standards Committee Nominees

Nilima N. Renukdas, PhD

Dept. of Aquaculture/Fisheries
University of Arkansas Pine Bluff
UAPB Fish Health Services,
Lonoke, AR

I am working as a Director/ Extension Fish Health Specialist at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB) in the APHIS approved Fish Health Certification Laboratory-Lonoke, AR. I am working with the UAPB Fish Health Inspection program for over seven years. I conduct annual and bi-annual fish health inspections which involve testing fish for viruses, bacteria, and parasites according to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), AFS-FHS Bluebook, and laboratory APHIS approved protocols. My research mostly is extension-based, to develop a more effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of fish health problems on the sportfish and baitfish farms. In addition to Fish health inspection work, my lab also provides diagnostic services to fish producers, private pond owners from in and out of the state.

I received my Ph.D. in Biotechnology in 2006 from India. I began my career with catfish production studies. Soon after I started my aquatic animal health and Fish Health Certification work. I am an FHS Certified Fish Health Inspector which enables me to provide service to fish producers with their inspection certification requirements.

I have completed different courses related to Aquatic Animal Diseases: AqvaVet II: Comparative Pathology of Aquatic Animals (2017). Quality Management: National Animal Health Laboratory Network Quality Management System (2014) and Aquatic Animal Disease workshops continuous education.

I am a member of the AFS – Fish Health Section. I am also a member of the National Aquaculture Association, Arkansas Bait and Ornamental Fish Growers Association, Catfish Farmers of Arkansas, World Aquaculture Society and United States Aquaculture Society (U.S. Chapter of World Aquaculture Society).

Stephen Reichley, DVM, PhD, CertAqV

President-Elect, World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association

Stephen most recently served as the Director of R&D and Fish Health for Clear Springs Foods, the largest producer of freshwater rainbow trout in the U.S. In that role, he reorganized the research and development program, enhanced laboratory services, and strengthened clinical fish health services. He had oversight of the R&D program, including internal and external projects; responsible for the health and welfare of 45+ million fish across brood, hatchery, and grow-out operations; and directed the Diagnostic and Research Laboratory as well as the Water Quality and Analytical Laboratory providing lab services to R&D Operations, Farm Operations, and Plant Operations. He was also a member of the corporate Executive Leadership Team and participated in strategic planning for the organization.

Stephen earned a BS from The University of Findlay, a DVM from The Ohio State University, and a PhD from Mississippi State University. He is also a Certified Aquatic Veterinarian. He has extensive experience in the culture of many aquatic species throughout the United States and abroad in private practice, governmental agencies, as well as academic institutions. He has numerous scientific publications related to aquatic animal health and has given lectures and seminars throughout the world for veterinarians, veterinary students, and those working in aquaculture. In addition to serving as President-Elect for the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association, Stephen serves as a Director-at-Large for the American Association of Fish Veterinarians and is a member of AFS-FHS as well as other organizations.

Professional Standards Committee Nominees

Anna Forest

I grew up in New Mexico watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, Wild America and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I developed a love for water and a fascination of undersea creatures. I say that my love of the water developed through my competitive swimming career, but Jacques’ French accent and cinematography probably played a role. I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M at Galveston in (1991) and a Master’s of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (2001) from Texas A&M.

My fish health career started in 2002 when I was hired by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) to work in the aquatic animal health program at the Fisheries Experiment Station (FES). I was certified as an Aquatic Animal Health Inspector in 2007 after acquiring five years of work experience collecting and processing parasitology, bacteriology and virology samples. I continued to work as a Microbiologist for UDWR conducting fish health Inspections and assisting with research on aquatic pathogens until 2014.

I became the Fish Health Specialist for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in 2014. As such, I serve as a member of the Fish Health Policy Board that develops aquatic animal health policy for Utah. I also license private aquaculture and fee fishing facilities; conduct / collect samples for fish health inspections at private aquaculture facilities in Utah; advise hatcheries of the testing requirements for the neighboring states; evaluate inspection reports; and issue entry permits for aquatic animals entering Utah. In Utah, the rules governing aquatic animal health are administered by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. As part of my job I regularly evaluate submitted paperwork to assess whether procedural standards are met and to determine if the submitted documents meet requirements.

I served as the Vice President; President Elect, President, and Past President of the Utah Chapter of the American Fisheries Society from 2008 – 2012. I have been active in the American Fisheries Society since 2002 and believe my experience and interest in the FHS suggests I am well suited to serve on the Professionals Standards Committee.

Joe Marcino

Arizona Game & Fish Department

One of the last still working USFWS Leetown Academy Fish Health Management and Disease diagnosis long course (10 months) graduates. Have been certified as an Aquatic Animal Health Inspector and Fish Pathologist since 1991. Have had the pleasure of working for several state agencies across the country (Minnesota, Maryland and Arizona).

I was the original chair of the Quality Assurance and Quality control committee and now serve on the committee as a working member. I’ve chaired the Great Lakes Fish Health Committee for four years, and have been a part of the New England Fish Health committee and currently serve as Executive Secretary of the Professional Standards committee.

Megan Shavalier, DVM, PhD

Research Associate
Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory
Department of Fisheries & Wildlife
College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Megan began working in the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) at Michigan State University in 2007. Her interest in aquatic animal medicine was piqued from the onset while working as a Professorial Assistant under Dr. Mohamed Faisal primarily in virology and cell culture. After receiving a B.S. in Zoology, Megan entered veterinary school at Michigan State University. Upon completion of her DVM degree, Megan returned to the Aquatic Animal Health Lab to pursue a PhD in Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University.

Megan’s thesis work focused on improving diagnostic capabilities and furthering our understanding of the pathogenesis of Salmonid Herpesvirus-3. As a graduate student, Megan also managed the virology and tissue culture sections of the AAHL, oversaw the training of a number of undergraduate research assistants, and served as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students alike. Following the completion of her PhD, Megan has had the opportunity to remain a member of the AAHL as a post-doctoral research associate focusing on monitoring, evaluating and promoting the health of Great Lakes fishes through both research and diagnostics.

Megan first became a member of the AFS Fish Health Section as a graduate student and is looking forward to becoming more involved in the organization as her career as a fish health professional continues to develop.


Nominating and Balloting Committee Nominees

Tim Bruce, PhD

My name is Dr. Tim Bruce and I’m currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Ken Cain’s Fish Health Lab at the University of Idaho. My research interests involve fish immunology, fish pathology, and fish nutrition as it relates to health. I began my academic career at the University of Western Ontario, where I earned my BMSc. in Medical Sciences (Specialization in Human Anatomy and Physiology). Following my undergraduate degree, I received my M.S. in Biology at Purdue University-Fort Wayne and became interested in aquaculture and fish physiology/health. I then went on to complete my Ph.D. in Fisheries Sciences at South Dakota State University, studying fish health and aquaculture nutrition. While in South Dakota, I worked as a Research Scientist for Prairie AquaTech, a company that manufactures plant-based protein ingredients for aquaculture. I then served as the Aquatic Animal Health Specialist/Fish Pathologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation before starting in the Cain Lab in late 2017. The current research projects that I am involved with include: novel fish vaccine development/strategies, investigating the health and nutrition of cultured burbot, and emerging bacterial fish pathogens in the Pacific Northwest. I am currently a member of both the AFS Fish Health and Fish Culture Sections and I look forward to the opportunity to assist the AFS-FHS in 2020!

Attila Karsi, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Basic Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, 39762 USA.

Greetings, AFS-FHS members:
I obtained my undergraduate (Ankara University, 1994), master’s (Auburn University, 1998), and doctoral (Auburn University, 2001) degrees in Fisheries and Aquaculture. My first postdoctoral training was in fish genomics in the Agricultural Research Service at the United States Department of Agriculture, and my second postdoctoral training was in infectious fish diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. I am currently an Associate Professor, and my research is focused on development of live attenuated fish vaccines through genetic manipulation of bacterial fish pathogens. I became a student member of the AFS in 1998 when I was at Auburn University, and I have been a regular member since 2008. I have had the privilege of serving on the Nominati on and Balloting Committee two terms and am looking forward to serving another term.

Nicholas Phelps, MS, PhD

Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN

Nick is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology and the Director of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Prior to that, he led the aquatic diagnostic program for the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for ten years. His research and outreach programs address emerging threats to the health and sustainability of farmed and wild fish populations, with lie at the intersection of animals, humans and the environment. This has included recent projects in pathogen discovery and diagnostic development, disease ecology, risk assessment, and invasion modeling.

Nick has been an active member of the Fish Health Section since 2005, serving on the Student Involvement Committee (chair, 2006-2011), Recruitment and Retention Committee (2011-2020), Technical Standards Committee (2014-2017), and would welcome the opportunity to serve on the Nominating and Balloting Committee. In addition, he has participated numerous working groups within the FHS and other professional organizations.

Nick began his career in fish health as an undergrad assistant working on the microsporidian Heterosporis sutherlandae at Bemidji State University. He earned an MS at the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff in Aquaculture/Fisheries, with a project focused on the diagnosis and transmission of Ovipleistophora ovariae. He then earned his PhD at the University of Minnesota in Veterinary Medicine, with a project focused on the improved diagnosis and risk-based management of viral hemorrhagic septicemia.

Mark Polinski, PhD

Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Mark joined the Aquatic Animal Health Section at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, British Columbia, in 2014. He has accumulated a diverse background in fisheries and aquatic animal health with research projects ranging from mitigating fungal infections of burbot to mapping parasitic immune responses of bluefin tuna to understanding viral pathogenesis mechanism in salmon. Currently, his research focus is on virulence and transmission potential of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) in Atlantic and Pacific salmon.

An original native to Upstate New York, Mark worked as a professional SCUBA diver in the Adirondack Park before heading to the University of Idaho in 2007 to obtain his M.Sc. degree in Fisheries/Fish Health. He then traveled to Australia in 2010 to complete his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology/Aquatic Animal Health at the University of Tasmania before moving to his current home in Canada. He has been a member of the AFS-FHS for 13 years and thinks it’s about time he started taking a more active role to this organization that has given him so much.

Isaac Standish, PhD

Fish Biologist
La Crosse Fish Health Center, USFWS
Onalaska, WI, USA

During my childhood I was constantly outside; always fishing, catching frogs and bugs, and developing a love for nature and the wild. Entering college, I was initially interested in pursuing medicine, but I was just not passionate about human medicine. Instead I decided to take an Intro to Fisheries and Wildlife course, where they gave us chest waders and threw us in a stream to sample invertebrates. So of course this led to me pursuing a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University.

Remaining at Michigan State, I then pursued a PhD in Pathobiology under the guidance of Dr. Mohamed Faisal. My research focused on viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus, host immune response, and diagnostic assay development. Following graduation I was offered a directorate fellowship with the USFWS working with pathogens affecting amphibians.

For the past three years I have continued to work on diagnostic assays for pathogens affecting fish and amphibians. I feel blessed that I am in a position that affords me the opportunity to pursue both field and lab work, and where I can fully employ my interests in nature and medicine. Additionally, the La Crosse Fish Health Center is located in the Driftless Area which has great trout fishing and mushroom hunting!

I’ve been in the fish health section for several years and I am running for the Nominating and Balloting Committee because I would to become more involved

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