Milford Lab: Outreach and Partnerships
Much of the research conducted by the Aquaculture & Enhancement Division has direct application to the shellfish industry, many of whom do not read peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Accordingly, we have sought ways to transfer knowledge and skills directly to the shellfish-aquaculture community and the community as a whole. Details of some of our current outreach and partnership activities can be found below.
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The first meeting of the Milford Aquaculture Seminar was held in 1975, and was a small gathering of Milford researchers and shellfish growers who convened to address issues of concern to the industry. Since that time the meeting has expanded in size and breadth to include participants from private companies, extension programs, universities, and local high schools.
The meeting still serves as a technology transfer between Milford researchers and the shellfish industry, while also allowing other area professionals to present their current work as well. In ‘even’ years the meeting is held in Southern Connecticut. From 2015 forward, in ‘odd’ years the meeting will be held in conjunction with the Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Expo.
The Flatfish Biology Conference welcomes platform and poster presentations addressing any aspect of flatfish research (e.g., biology, ecology, aquaculture, stock assessment, physiology etc.) from all regions and international locales. First held in 1986, the conference is convened by the NEFSC every 2-3 years, and facilitates information transfer among scientists and between research facilities. A steering committee comprising NEFSC and non-NEFSC scientists provide oversight. Conference proceedings are published as an online NEFSC Reference Document to ensure access to the agenda and abstracts and for historical documentation. The upcoming “30th anniversary” Flatfish Biology Conference will be held on December 6th and 7th, 2016 in Westbrook CT. Professional and student flatfish researchers are invited to participate.
An important aspect of the research activities at the Milford lab is public outreach. One part of this outreach is an annual open house event, typically held in early to mid-October. The open house provides a unique opportunity for the public to tour the lab, meet directly with scientists, and see first-hand the types of research projects that are conducted. The lab is divided into a series of “Stations” each summarizing a research topic, and each with a researcher on hand to present material and answer questions. Highlights include the “Touch Tank”, Fish Printing, and the lab’s history.
One day of the open house is designated for local and regional school groups. As many as 500 students, from all grade levels, tour the lab in small groups. Often the school groups have projects or study aids directly related to the tours. The second day is less formal. The general public is invited to visit and tour the lab at their own pace; families, community groups, and interested individuals make up the visitors on this day. We hope you consider a visit during our next open house.
Held (nearly) annually, the 2-day Milford Microalgal Culture Workshop combines lectures with hands-on, laboratory activities to build knowledge and skills necessary to: 1) perpetuate stock cultures, 2) scale up cultures for feeding in the hatchery, 3) manage production cultures, and 4) make informed decisions about how much of what kind of algae to produce to feed broodstock, larvae, and post-set shellfish. Over the past 12 years more than 150 individuals from commercial, extension, academic, and government organizations have participated in the Workshop; there is no charge, but participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging.
For more information contact Gary Wikfors.
Researchers from the Milford Laboratory have a long history of collaborating with the two regional aquaculture high schools located in Milford’s vicinity. Collaborative efforts with the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center have focused on shellfish aquaculture research, while the majority of research conducted with the Sound School in New Haven has focused on finfish aquaculture. Students from both of these programs regularly present their projects at the annual Milford Aquaculture Seminar, and many have returned post-graduation to participate in summer research internships at the lab.
The objective of the project is to share technology and experience on how environmental conditions affect survival and production of aquacultured oysters through effects upon the oyster immune system. Milford researchers work with NFRDI colleagues on applying oyster blood-cell analysis using flow-cytometry to assessments of immune-system capacity of oysters in Korean growing areas. NFRDI staff work with Milford colleagues to apply tools of molecular biology to assessments of health status of oysters in US growing waters. The result is expected to be more-complete assessments of oyster health, combining both approaches, to better manage oyster aquaculture in both nations.
The Milford Laboratory has had a long-standing (25 years) history of collaboration with colleagues in France on topics relevant to shellfish aquaculture. Together we have made important advances in understanding the biochemical nutritional requirements of oysters and other shellfish in the hatchery and nursery, developed flow-cytometric methods to assess the immune status of shellfish, researched best-management practices to minimize the risk of spreading invasive, harmful microalgae through aquaculture activities, and led the world in identifying interactions between harmful algae and shellfish. Through Workshops and exchanges of students, post-docs, and professionals, we have worked side-by-side on questions relevant to improving the sustainability of shellfish aquaculture in both nations. At present, we have three specific areas of interaction: 1) Shellfish and harmful algae (with IUEM LEMAR), 2) Sustainable shellfish aquaculture development (with IFREMER), and 3) Mollusc feeding requirements (IUEM LEMAR).
For more information, contact Gary Wikfors.