March 2023 Kentucky Lake Section Meeting

Developing Analytical Tools
to Investigate Nutritional Ecology
at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Featuring Cody Pinger, PhD

Recruitment Energetics and Coastal Assessment (RECA)
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

Thursday, March 16th 7:00pm

Virtual Meeting

Zoom Meeting ID: 994 6588 8352

Research at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) covers a range of interdisciplinary collaborations to study life in Alaska’s large marine ecosystems. Biologists, ecologists, geneticists, computer scientists, statisticians, and chemists work together with the fishing industry to monitor fish and marine mammal populations. Data from these studies are incorporated into sophisticated models to help predict future fish stock size, empowering fishery managers with information to set sustainable catch limits and protect whales, seals, and sea lions in Alaska. Additional AFSC projects include advancing aquaculture research in Alaska, monitoring the long-term effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and analyzing the effects of ocean warming on marine life. Much of this research is supported with analytical chemistry!

This presentation will focus on research being performed in the chemistry lab in the Recruitment Energetics and Coastal Assessment (RECA) program. Here, we study the structure and function of marine food webs using biochemical indicators of fish health. To improve the usefulness of our studies, we have optimized the performance of a rapid method for measuring lipid content in zooplankton, a valuable indicator of nutritional quality. This advancement enables rapid turnaround of data for use in annual ecosystem-status reports, providing timely information on diets of commercially important juvenile fish. Additionally, our team investigates thiamine (vitamin B1) in Chinook salmon as a potential driver of recent severe population declines. This work involves high-performance liquid chromatography measurements of vitamin content, novel approaches to field measurements, salmon-rearing experiments at a remote hatchery, and studies on the concentration of a vitamin-destroying enzyme in prey fishes as a putative cause.

Cody began his academic journey at Alpena Community College in northern Michigan before transferring to Saginaw Valley State University to earn a B.S. in Chemistry in 2014. His undergraduate research studied causes of eutrophication in the local Saginaw Bay watershed. Following graduation, he moved to East Lansing to pursue a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Michigan State University. He defended his dissertation in 2018, titled: Novel Analytical Tools for Studying a Potential Type-1 Diabetes Therapy. This work involved developing 3D-printed devices for measuring interactions between bloodstream cells, proteins, and small ligands, and studying how those interactions changed under conditions observed in the bloodstream of people with diabetes. Following postdoctoral studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at MSU, Cody moved with his fiancée Kathryn to the capital of Alaska to work as a chemist with NOAA Fisheries. Cody enjoys hiking Juneau’s numerous trails, watching marine mammals, and plans to build a pizza oven in his backyard this summer.

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