Lilian O Elekwachi- PhD student
Lilian is a Margaret McNamara Education Fellow. Her doctoral research is linked to empowering women and improving nutrition in Nigeria, by improving the fish smoking technologies and techniques currently used, as well as the sustainability of aquaculture development in Nigeria, with the help of multidisciplinary research approach. Her research to improve the fish processing technologies will help to improve the working conditions for women and improve the quality of finished product.
Lilian is currently a teaching assistant at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and one of the recipients of McNamara Education Grant 2020 award. She has a catfish aquaculture farm and processes her products as well. She holds a master’s degree in Sustainable Aquaculture from the University of St Andrews Uk.
Alan Abend - PhD student
Alan is currently the Assistant Dean of the School for the Environment, UMass Boston. He obtained his BS and MS in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also has a Culinary Arts degree from Johnson and Wales University. Alan did his initial PhD work at Texas A&M University Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science and is continuing his research in the Tlusty lab. Alan’s early research focused on diet analysis of marine fisheries, whales and seals using stable isotope and fatty acid analyses. He is currently looking how to improve the production of farmed seafood to decrease waste and utilize seafood production waste into profitable products.
Jake Levenson - PhD student
Judah Jacob ‘Jake’ Levenson, is investigating the impact of open innovation on animal movement studies and how fine detail tracking can better inform ocean management. While doing his PhD work, he is also a marine biologist in the Environmental Studies Program at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and co-founder and Executive Director of the Conservation organization, Oceans Forward. His research has taken him around the world working on past projects such as building capacity among fishermen for whale disentanglement in Zanzibar, the study of sea turtle behavior and their role in coral reefs in Dominica, as well as the spatial and behavioral ecology of large whales in Iceland. His work at BOEM focuses on driving innovative solutions to address complex challenges associated with better understanding the behavior, habitat, changing distribution, and ecosystem roles of protected species and especially the impact of energy development upon those species. A classically trained Mime, in his spare time he enjoys building gingerbread houses that depict scenes from Little House on the Prairie. Levenson holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of New England, a Master’s degree from Boston University.
Jacob is the co-founder of Flukebook.org, a global effort that unites marine mammal scientists with the public aimed at increasing our understanding of whale migrations by allowing anyone with a camera to collaborate on photo-ID around the world. Flukebook is already being used throughout the Caribbean, U.S., Australia, Europe as well as in Iceland as an essential tool helping researchers understand movements and population trends faster than ever before.
Levenson currently leads research in partnership with several federal and international agencies, such as; NASA’s Advanced Exploration Division to develop open source small satellites for improved data from animal telemetry studies. With the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary on understanding the spatial and behavioral ecology of Sei whales in the Northeast US, as well as developing a standardized national framework for Ecosystem Based Management at BOEM.
Alice Wynn- PhD student
Alice’s PhD research is currently focused on improving sustainability of the marine aquarium trade through ornamental fish care and aquaculture literacy, best practices for public aquariums, and methods of eliminating Cryptocaryon irritans, a prevalent parasite of captive marine fish. Since 2012, Alice has worked in the museum and aquarium field as an educator/aquarist, and has a strong interest in public science education and the roles which citizens play in environmental stewardship.
Alice obtained a B.S. in Biology from Suffolk University in 2018, where they conducted intertidal ecology research on rock gunnel habitat selection, and the effects of marine invasives on periwinkle populations in the Gulf of Maine. Alice is an avid birdwatcher, and was a long-time volunteer with the Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET), recording beached seabird data on Cape Cod.
Eli Kurtz - Masters student
Eli is currently working towards his masters degree while designing sensors that would aid in the production of farmed seaweed. Having worked in aquaculture roles, he is very excited to be a part of improving the sector. Eli loves fish in all forms, from aquariums to seafood, so he generally spends his time thinking about technologies that could help improve the way we interact with them. Despite graduating from UMass Amherst, he spent most of his university time in British Colombia, working on aquaculture farms and snowboarding.
Sean McNally - PhD graduated Fall 2020
Sean is currently working for NOAA. His dissertation was "THE ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND MARKET DRIVERS OF SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE IN MASSACHUSETTS". This dissertation worked to understand what is acceptable in terms of Massachusetts shellfish aquaculture’s effect on the environment, investigates the tools that work to certify the level of acceptable environmental impacts, and identifies the effects that are acceptable to the stakeholders directly involved and associated with the shellfish aquaculture activity.
Alex Bonnano - MS Degree - graduated spring 2020
Alex is a graduate of Roger Williams University where he worked on the captive broodstock conditioning, egg collection, and larval rearing of the Atlantic Lookdown, Selene vomer. AFter graduation, he spent time as a professional marine biology intern for The Walt Disney Company at The Seas. At Disney, where he was given the opportunity to fine-tune his knowledge of marine species by caring for over 150 species of marine organisms. At U Mass, he will work on how to detect fish that were caught using cyanide. Cyanide fishing, introduced into Southeast Asia in the 1960s, is among one of the most destructive human activities occurring in the area, and in addition to aquarium fish, is also used for the live food fish trade. Estimates have placed the amount of cyanide used in the Philippines as high as 150,000kg per year, although the exact magnitude remains unknown. Currently, there is no easily implemented test to ensure that a fish was not caught with cyanide. Stopping illegal cyanide fishing will be a significant step in helping to improve coral reef health.
Jack HE - MS Degree - GRADUATED SPRING 2020
Jack obtained his BS in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts-Boston back in 2017. Upon graduation, he took a year off to travel the world and work in the biotech industry. Currently, he is using Environmental DNA to determine the presence and distribution of Marbled salamanders in Holyoke, MA in association with Zoo New England’s head start program. The goal of the program is to collect and rear marbled salamanders, before reintroducing them back into Middle-sex Fells Reservation.
Jireh Clarington- REU Student summer 2019
Jireh Clarington was a visiting scholar in the Coastal Research in Environmental Science and Technology (CREST) Research Experience for Undergraduates program in 2019. His research focused on assessing the sustainability of a Sri Lankan elasmobranch fishery and quantifying the presence of endangered species therein. Data from this study reported the presence of species new to science who’s IUCN status had never been assessed; raising new questions and challenges for Sri Lanka’s elasmobranch fisheries. Currently, he is pursuing a B. Sc. in marine fish conservation at Virginia Tech. His work there focuses on probiotics growth and feeding trials of steelhead trout and giant tiger prawns at his university’s aquaculture lab.
Samina Soin-Voshell - REU Student summer 2019
Samina Soin-Voshell was a member of the Coastal Research in Environmental Science and Technology (CREST) REU 2019 cohort. During her summer at UMass Boston her research focused on evaluating two concrete substrates’ potential for recruiting marine settlement in the intertidal zone, which was in the context of research on promoting recovery of the biotic community when concrete sea walls are built. Her home institution is Washington College in Chestertown, MD where she is double majoring in environmental science and biology, with a minor in Chesapeake regional studies. Upon graduation in 2021 she plans to pursue coastal or estuarine ecology in her future studies and career.
Delia McNamara- Undergraduate Capstone - Graduated, BS Dec 2017
Delia's Capstone Independent Study research project focused on instances of epizootic shell disease in juvenile lobsters held in aquaculture. The Tlusty lab emphasizes sustainability, which is reflected in the goals of this project. Shell disease takes an economic toll globally on crustacean industries; this project will aide in understanding how climate change may intensify rates of epizootic shell disease. Delia also has aquaculture experience as a lab supervisor at the Harwich Shellfish Lab. The Harwich Shellfish Lab is a nursery which raises quahogs and oysters to an size with a higher survivability rate. The optimization of growth rates of shellfish raised in this lab is vital to the commercial and recreational viability of shellfishing in the town of Harwich on Cape Cod. Upon graduation from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, she will enroll in graduate school after a period of further experience-building in the industry.