2020 Award Winners

2020 Dwight A. Webster Memorial Award Winner:  Tom Savoy

Tom Savoy has been active in New England fisheries for almost a half century after receiving his BS from the University of Connecticut in 1980 and his subsequent graduate degree in 1985.  During his tenure at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection he has weathered good times and bad and has published 19 peer-reviewed articles the majority of which are in top-tier journals.

With a half century of fisheries experience working in southern New England, Tom is a true treasure of information. Working with his colleagues at CTDEEP he established long standing surveys which he has managed to maintain regardless of political winds or funding constraints. Tom has a long history in the NED and was central to the success of the 128th Annual Meeting of AFS in Hartford, CT in 1998. In 2005 he helped found the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry (ACT) Network which now boasts over 150 members ranging from Florida to the Canadian Maritimes. This centralized means of telemetry data sharing through the ACT Network was one of the first in operation, and he was there at the start, pushing folks to find a way to work together, which epitomizes his career, which has spanned six presidents and is now in excess of fifty years.

2020 President’s Award Winner: Kim McKown

Kim McKown is currently the Unit Leader for NYDEC’s Marine Invertebrates and Protected Resources Unit in the Division of Marine Resources.  Kim’s career began with DEC during the summer of 1985 and she has played a pivotal role in conservation research and fisheries management for numerous species throughout her tenure. From her earliest position with DEC, working in the Diadromous Fish Unit, Kim had a huge role in much of the foundational research for striped bass migration up the Hudson River and along the shores of Long Island. In that position she was an asset to identifying sources of data, cooperative partnerships, and innovative approaches to sampling the large geographic scope. In addition to her work with striped bass, Kim also worked meticulously to research then presently endangered Atlantic sturgeon, a species that was declining in NY waters at an alarming rate.

Kim’s trailblazing experience with these two commercially valuable fisheries lead her to another commercially valuable species of a
different phylum. At the time Kim moved on from the Diadromous Unit, her expertise in commercial fisheries was shifted from fish with fins to crawling crustaceans, including the economically important lobsters of the Long Island Sound. Kim’s research focused around the changes in environmental conditions surrounding the lobster’s disappearance and adaptive collaboration with harvesters experiencing these declines. The continuing decline and northern shift of the American lobsters remains a facet of Kim’s work with DEC today. Kim’s commitment to conservation is a legacy in the Division of Marine Resources, which is apparent by the unit she is responsible for creating and leads now, which is comprised of sturgeon, lobsters, crabs, whales, and sea turtles. She has always been willing and eager to undertake matters of huge importance and her work always remained focused on maintaining a healthy and stable ecosystem as well as considering and balancing the resource from the necessary anthropogenic perspective.

2020 Special Achievement Awards: 1) Dr. Peter Park, 2)NOAA Fishery Biology Program

Dr. Peter Park was nominated for the Special Achievement Award for his role, along with a consortium of partners to establish the East River Ichthyological Alliance (ERIA). What started as one of Peter’s impassioned ideas, ERIA, is the first of its kind bringing stewardship organizations along the often-overlooked East River together to promote both increased understanding of and public engagement with the fishery. Peter has been the driving force in creating collaboration, ensuring completion of project components, soliciting partner feedback, and facilitating learning opportunities for partners and the general public. Peter was the lead author on the creation of a manuscript from the 2019 pilot year data. Throughout the entire process Peter has been an indefatigable lead following up with everyone and realizing a genuinely innovative and impactful vision. Perhaps the crowning achievement of ERIA from Peter was the creation of a detailed quality-controlled database that all partners from park groups to charters to recreational anglers can contribute.

Working out of one of the original cottages of historic Woods Hole, the Northeast Fishery Science Center’s Fishery Biology Program is one of the longest-standing fish ageing programs in the world. They have archived samples dating back to the 1930s, and it can be said that this program ‘wrote the book’ on ageing fish in the northeast US (Penttila and Dery, 1988; Morison et al. 2005). For decades, this program has produced tens of thousands of individual ages each year, which are used for stock assessments of the northeast US’s fishery species. The team works together to innovate methods to increase production of high quality samples. They partner with our information technology division to apply off-the-shelf tech – such as bar coding systems – to track samples and speed up every step of the process – from sampling at sea to auditing the data in the office. They work closely with the federal and state agencies to deliver on what is an unending cycle of deadlines for data-hungry models. These ages are an annual data stream contributing to the scientific basis for assessing and managing our region’s fisheries.

The Fish Biology Program has an outstanding track record of both productivity and professionalism. This program’s staff has contributed to AFS publications both historically (Jearld, 1983) and recently (Duffy et al. 2011, 2012; Baumann et al. 2013). Team members are fully engaged in sharing best practices, participating in local ageing workshops, and exchanging samples or equipment with other state, federal, and Canadian ageing laboratories. The NEFSC’s Fishery Biology Program has an international reputation for research and development of new ageing methods, pushing the field forward, and sharing their knowledge broadly.

2020 John Moring Student Travel Award Winners: Nate Hermann & Allie Seminer

Nate Hermann is currently a Masters student at the University of New Hampshire studying Arctic sculpin ecology as a member of Nathan Furey’s Fish and Movement Ecology Lab. He came to the Dr. Furey from the University of Notre Dame where he worked with Brandon Gerig and Dominic Chaloner in Gary Lamberti’s Stream and Wetland Ecology Lab studying the impacts of spawning Pacific salmon on Great Lakes stream fishes. He is originally from Dubuque, Iowa overlooking the Mississippi River and has long been fascinated with puzzling out what is happening just beyond our view in those waters. Moving forward, he plans to pursue a PhD in fisheries and continue working to understand and conserve the essential complexity of these valuable ecosystems.

Allie Seminer attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS ’20) in Geneva, New York where she majored in biology and minored in environmental studies and chemistry. At HWS, she conducted research in both the biology and chemistry departments and over the past year has completed an Honors research project entitled ‘Mercury Bioaccumulation in Fish Food Webs of New York State Finger Lakes Tributaries.’ She spent time in the field and lab collecting and analyzing data to complete this final thesis paper. Currently, she is studying at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), and is earning a Master of Science degree in Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security, where she hopes to put to good use the knowledge and scientific research experience she gained as an undergraduate.