Students

 

 Graduate Students


Amy WeissmanAmy Weissman
Program: M.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2018

The mortality of discarded fish is an issue which affects all fisheries. Since bycatch mortality rates cannot be generalized across gear type or species, it is important to determine gear type and species specific mortality. My project aims to quantify the stress response and discard mortality of monkfish in the scallop dredge fishery. There is little data available for this species concerning physical and physiological responses to the stress of fishing practices. I am working to establish a way to assess injury condition and test reflexes. In addition, I am testing blood samples to compare levels of lactate, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and cortisol among fish of different injury categories. Discard mortality will be determined through the use of 28-day pop-off satellite tags. The results of my study will provide new data on these species as well as help provide management with important information regarding the response of bycatch to fishing practices.

Brett SweezeyBrett Sweezey
Program: M.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2018

Atlantic cod has experienced heightened fishing-induced mortality since the 1990s leading to the lowest population abundances in recorded history. Although rigorous commercial and recreational limitations have been established in an attempt to restore this species, population levels remain at all-time lows. A potential issue affecting the recovery of cod populations is the unaccounted discard mortality experienced within Northwest Atlantic fisheries. With over 4 million fished traps, the lobster industry represents Maine’s largest fishery, and has recently been suggested as a major contributor towards the increased mortality rates of cod through the act of bycatch. Additionally, ghost traps are a phenomenon experienced in the lobster fishery when traps become lost at sea yet continue to fish and kill captured species. Although lobster traps are designed to target a single species, studies have shown bycatch is a reoccurring problem with local groundfish, especially cod. Studies have found lobster traps can remain intact for up to three years and it is estimated that as many as 175,000 traps are lost in this region annually. Through my research I hope to gain a better understanding of the relationship between these two fisheries to aid with the conservation of the cod species.

Sarah HyltonSarah Hylton
Program: M.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2018

I am interested in marine ecology, with a focus in how commercial fisheries affect natural populations of both target and non-target fish. My master’s thesis focuses on Shortnose Sturgeon which have been listed as Endangered since 1967, but have yet to recover to a healthy stock size. Targeted sturgeon fisheries in the 1800’s along the U.S. east coast extirpated sturgeon from many rivers, but some key populations appear to be re-inhabiting those systems. To aid in the recovery of this species, I am studying diet, movement, and sex identification in the Merrimack River population, where a strong fishery once existed. My thesis will pull information from gastric lavage, acoustic tracking, and radioimmunoassay for sex determination. Understanding the spatial use of this river can lead to improved conservation and management of the species.

Hannah VerkampHannah Verkamp
Program: M.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2020

I am a new graduate student in the Sulikowski Lab. I am interested in elasmobranch reproduction, and my research will focus on the reproductive cycles and gestation of various elasmobranch species. My primary project will be to re-evaluate the gestation length of spiny dogfish. I will carry out a captive study to assess the potential effects of water temperature on gestation length while utilizing non-lethal study methods such as ultrasound imaging and blood collection for determination of relative concentrations of sex steroid hormones through radio-immunoassay techniques. I am also working on a collaborative project through the University of Miami on the reproductive cycles of elasmobranchs found off the coasts of Southern Florida. Understanding life history characteristics such as this is crucial to effective management of elasmobranch populations.

Brooke AndersonBrooke Anderson
Program: M.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2020

I am a new graduate student in the Sulikowski lab. I am interested in studying the stress physiology and discard mortality of fish and elasmobranch bycatch in commercial fisheries. I plan to use radioimmunoassay to assess stress hormones in the blood of injured bycatch in the scallop and lobster fisheries. I will test reflexes and injury codes as well as use 72- hour captive monitoring to quantify the mortality rates of discarded fishes. I am excited to start my research here at the University of New England.

Undergraduate Students


Nora WellsNora Wells
Program: B.S. in Marine Biology
Graduation Year: 2018

I am currently a senior here in the Sulikowski Lab. I am working in the radioactive room to assess the reproductive stage of lemon, blacktip, and sandbar sharks found off the coast of Southern Florida. This is a collaborative research project with the University of Miami to determine why several shark species, including lemon, blacktip, and sandbar sharks, are using this particular area. My project is to determine the amount of  reproductive steroid hormones that are present in the individual shark at the time that it is captured and tagged. The amount of a particular hormone is then used to determine whether a female shark is gravid and what stage of the reproductive cycle she is in.

Riley WellsRiley Austin
Program: B.S. in Marine Biology with a minor in Applied Mathematics
Graduation Year: 2018

Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) were once the most important commercial groundfish species in New England, but in recent history overfishing has decimated stocks. In order to restore stocks, an understanding of how they are affected by changing climates and other anthropogenic influences is crucial. The GOM Lobster trap fishery could be one of these influences. It provides ample opportunity for any demersal organism seeking shelter or food to become captured as incidental bycatch. The stress induced by this fishery is poorly studied, especially for groundfish species. Therefore, the goal of my study is to quantify the potential stress and discard mortality of Cod in the lobster industry by determining cortisol concentrations, the primary stress hormone in teleosts, through radioimmunoassay. Cortisol will be evaluated and compared to injury code and reflex responses in a to determine mortality. The goal of my research is to contribute information for discard mortality estimates of groundfish species in the GOM lobster fishery, which may aid in the improvement of management strategies in this fishery.

Lars HammerLars Hammer
Program: B.S. in Marine Science with a minor in Applied Mathematics
Graduation Year: 2018

I am a senior in James’ lab and have been working here since the beginning of my freshman year. I have been involved in various research projects and activities including shark fishing, skate gillnetting, trawling, sturgeon fishing, ground fishing, lobster fishing, and seining. My research involves the capture and tagging of winter flounder in the Saco River Estuary using passive and active acoustic telemetry as well as other tagging methods. The objectives of this study include determining the importance of the river to winter flounder life stages and how they are utilizing the estuary. This study will help characterize the estuary as an essential fish habitat for winter flounder, which is crucial in the face of low populations and climate change.

Kayla BurgessKayla Burgess
Program: B.S. in Marine Biology
Graduation Year: 2018

Since joining the lab early my freshman year I have assisted with many undergrad and graduate student projects including sturgeon tagging, sharpnose shark ageing, and little skate neonate development. I now have my own research project studying the age and growth of monkfish. The vertebrae and other calcified structures of these commercially important bony anglerfish display growth rings called annuli that can be counted to determine the age of the fish. For my project, I am using techniques in histology to stain the monkfish vertebrae and elucidate the annuli. I am also examining the otoliths (ear bones), illicium (lure), and eye lenses as possible ageing structures. The age of each fish is compared to its size to calculate growth rates which can then be used to assess the status of the fishery and implement effective management policies.

Molly SiskMolly Sisk
Program: B.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2018

I am currently a senior in the marine science program. I have been working in the Sulikowski lab since my freshman year. I help other undergraduates and graduate students on various projects at hand, allowing me to see what all goes into a research project. I have gained many new skills while working in the Sulikowski lab. In the past, I worked on counting and identifying larval fish and zooplankton. This work has taught me helpful techniques in identifying different species. I have also done sturgeon fishing, lobster fishing, seining and many other lab and field tasks. I am currently working on cleaning and aging Rainbow Smelt scales. This lab offers many opportunities in marine science research. I am hoping to further my skills and experience during my remaining time in this lab.

Jordan CareyJordan Carey
Program: B.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2018

I am currently a senior majoring in Marine Biology. In the past I worked as a research assistant for Lauren Bamford on her project looking at the prevalence and abundance of of codworm in the Gulf of Maine. I also gained experience working as a lab assistant for Angela Cicia. This is my second year working in the Sulikowski Lab. I have acquired many new skills such as gill netting, gill net repair, seining, acoustic tagging, and blood processing, as well as various types of research methods through working on the projects of my lab mates. I am also currently working on cleaning and aging rainbow smelt scales. Being exposed to all of these experiences has helped me find what I’m truly passionate about within this field.

Austin FlaniganAustin Flanigan
Program: B.S. in Marine Biology and Applied Mathematics
Graduation Year: 2019

I am a junior at UNE, majoring in both marine biology and applied math. I started working in the Sulikowski lab in my second semester of freshman year. Over this past summer I had the opportunity to work as a deckhand on a Halibut and Salmon charter boat in Cook Inlet, Alaska. Currently, my research project consists of analyzing the movement of Atlantic sturgeon within the Saco Bay estuary. The use of both passive, acoustic tracking, and active, manual tracking, methods are used to follow and analyze the movement of these fish. I am also involved in lobster fishing trips and smelt scale aging. All of this work has provided me with great experience that I will be able to employ in my future endeavors. My main interests focus on elasmobranchs and other fishes, looking at their geographical movements and behaviors over time through the use of satellite and acoustic tagging.

Abigail HayneAbigail Hayne
Program: B.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2019

I joined the Sulikowski lab in the summer of 2016, having worked for Angela Cicia my freshman year as a lab assistant. I have been involved in a variety of techniques and field projects such as blood work, seining, trawling, as well as lobster, sturgeon and shark fishing. I have also assisted Kayla and Alicia in the histology lab. My own research is focused on elasmobranch age and life history data, where I process vertebra using similar histological methods. Such age information is critical to effectively manage populations of elasmobranch species, as well as how a population responds to fishing pressure.

Jen KnotekJen Knotek
Program: B.S. in Marine Science
Graduation Year: 2020

I am currently a sophomore majoring in Marine Biology at UNE. In the Sulikowski lab I have been helping undergraduate and graduate students with their research projects. I have also taken part in fishing and and upriver sampling trips. Being a part of this lab has opened up many opportunities for me in the scientific research world. I have learned many valuable skills that will be essential to my future in this field. I look forward to seeing what projects are ahead of me.