Author Archive

QFC Masters Student Delves Deeper Into the World of Otolith Microchemistry

QFC MS student Alex Maguffee has been engaging in research that will help quantify Chinook salmon natal origins and movement patterns in Lakes Huron and Michigan. From July to September, Alex took to the lab to prepare otoliths from juvenile Chinook salmon for microchemical analysis. With his assistant, Fisheries and Wildlife junior Jeremy Rohdy, he extracted, sectioned, and polished almost 300 ototliths from fish collected in streams throughout the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron basins. This ongoing work is part of an effort to help managers better protect one of the Great Lakes’ most economically important fishes. Alex also headed into the field in late October to collect otoliths of homing adult Chinook; this will be done to test whether or not natal sources can be identified from the juvenile section of the otoliths. With help from volunteers (including Alex Jensen of the QFC), he amassed a collection of 58 otolith pairs from 7 different streams. These otoliths will be prepared in the coming months. Microchemical analysis on both the juvenile and adult otoliths will begin in January of 2016.


QFC Teaches Stock Assessment/ADMB Short Course

As part of its education mission, the QFC taught a short course on stock assessment and AD Model Builder (ADMB) in early September. Jim Bence and Sam Truesdell taught the course, with one week focused on ADMB ( and one week covering a variety of stock assessment methods. In the first week, students were introduced to ADMB through a combination of lectures and in-class exercises. The second week built on those skills and covered a variety of stock assessment methods, again using both lectures and exercises. Prior to the workshop the students were encouraged to enroll in the QFC’s online course on maximum likelihood estimation ( and to watch the introductory ADMB videos developed at the QFC ( Workshop participants included biologists from state and tribal fishery agencies in the Great Lakes region. We hope that the skills the students acquired during the short course will enable them to continue learning ADMB, make changes to existing stock assessment models, and build models of their own.

Riley Presents at ICES Meeting in Denmark

In September, Reneé Reilly (QFC Research Associate) traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the 2015 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Annual Science Conference. Reneé participated in one of the meeting’s largest sessions, focused on science and industry partnerships and the value of cooperative research in fisheries management. The session was filled with a diverse array of topics, the common thread of which was understanding how best to involve stakeholders in fisheries research, management, and decision-making processes. Reneé’s talk focused on the work that the QFC has done with the Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group (LEPMAG), and she came away with the sense that while this initiative has a local focus, its implications are translatable on a global scale. The conference was an opportunity for the QFC’s work to reach the broad ICES audience, but may also lead to new projects and collaborators. Plus Reneé learned some Danish; Skål!


QFC Welcomes Nick Fisch – Our Newest Research Assistant

Nick Fisch recently joined the QFC as an MS graduate research assistant working with Dr. Jim Bence. Although originally from Nova Scotia, Nick grew up in Florida. He attended the University of Florida, studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with an emphasis on Quantitative Ecology. At University of Florida, he worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Florida Rivers Lab under the supervision of Dr. Bill Pine where he developed an independent research project assessing the possible relationship between Eastern oyster landings and freshwater discharge in Apalachicola Bay, Florida. During the summers, he worked as a field technician in Glacier National Park, Montana and as a student data analyst in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Nick’s specific area of research has not yet been decided, but it will likely involve simulation work to evaluate assessment methodologies for Great Lakes fish stocks.

Welcome Nick!

QFC hosted two students from Shanghai Ocean University

This summer the QFC hosted two students from Shanghai Ocean University, Velonica (Cong Lu) and Sunny (Haoliang Wu). These students were members of a larger group of students who were visiting the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife as part of a program between MSU and SHOU. Velonica and Sunny arrived on campus on July 10th and stayed about a month, giving them the opportunity to enjoy campus and get to know the students in their labs and the department as well as the chance to explore a bit of Michigan and end their trip with a quick stay in Chicago. One of the students, Sunny, joined Alex Maguffee and Jeremy Rhody in the exciting world of otolith chemistry. Sunny learned how to extract, clean, section, and polish juvenile Chinook salmon otoliths to prepare them for trace element chemical analysis. She worked closely with Alex and Jeremy, gaining experience in data collection, as well as advancing her microscope skills. By the end of her short stay, Sunny had really perfected the techniques. Both her diligent work and bright personality were a great addition to the lab this summer. The other student, Velonica, worked with Sam Truesdell and Lisa Peterson on a project that consisted of two parts, completing the QFC’s online R class and using R to analyze a data set.  Though she had never used R before, Velonica quickly completed the class and moved on to the data.  The data set described walleye movement in Lake Erie, and Velonica’s analyses examined patterns in movement linked to where the fish were originally tagged.  She also created a time lapse plot that tracked a single fish that had entered Lake Erie from Lake Huron.  Her work helps lay the foundation for a more involved analysis of Lake Erie walleye movement.

SHOU blog

Jim Bence Makes a Splash

The QFC’s very own Jim Bence has recently earned two prestigious recognition’s.  First, Dr Bence was awarded the Anderson-Everett Award that recognizes contributions to the IAGLR association.  Jim has served as IAGLR president and is currently chair of the Publications Committee.  You can learn more about the award here.

Second, The Fisheries Division of Michigan Department of Natural Resources named Dr. Bence the “William E. Ricker Professor of Fisheries Management” for his ground breaking interdisciplinary research and outreach that has improved the DNR’s ability to better manage fisheries resources.

Congratulations Dr. Bence!

Jim jim2

QFC Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

The QFC just celebrated its 10 year anniversary. This milestone was celebrated in style with a large party at the home of Jim andqfc party 2 Sue Bence. Around 40 people attended, including current students and staff, board members and even out of state alumni!

The band Jackalope played during the festivities. Jackalope donated a house concert to the Steiner Chorale charity auction and Jim and Sue Bence were high bidder and donated this entertainment to the QFC celebration. Another special thanks goes to Mark Ebener who donated some smoked fish!

qfc party 3

qfc party 1

Iyob Tsehaye, QFC research associate, has recently taken a research scientist position with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (W-DNR), in Madison, WI. In his new role, Dr. Tsehaye will continue to work on Great Lakes fishery management issues, focusing on the analysis of population dynamics of commercially important fisheries and the development of assessment tools to inform their management, mainly in Lakes Michigan and Superior. During his first weeks on the job, Iyob traveled to several Great Lakes field offices in Wisconsin to meet with fishery biologists and talk about their top research priorities and specific assessment modeling and statistical/analytical needs for both lakes. In Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay, some of the priority research areas concern the management of yellow perch, lake whitefish and walleye. Continuing the assessment of yellow perch is also one of the top priority research areas southwestern Lake Michigan fishery managers, based out of Milwaukee, are facing. For Lake Superior, he discussed with fishery biologists located in Bayfield/Ashland about lake trout assessment needs, among other things. Iyob will doubtless be a valuable addition to the Wisconsin DNR research team, which also includes QFC alumnus Dr. Gretchen Hansen, and we look forward to continuing to work with him as he represents one of our important partner agencies. We will miss having Iyob here at MSU, but wish him the best of luck with his new career.

QFC Travels to Rome

rome R
Three members of the QFC (Mike Jones, Lisa Peterson, and Norine Dobiesz) traveled to Rome, Italy this January to attend the Global Conference on Inland Fisheries. This international conference was held at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. With attendees from over 40 different countries the conference took a global, multidisciplinary approach to a variety of freshwater fisheries issues. Oral presentations and interactive discussions concluded in a group session to develop recommendations for inland fisheries policy statements. MSU was well represented, with President Lou Anna K. Simon giving the keynote address discussing a new partnership between MSU and FAO and quite a few members of the Fish & Wildlife Department giving talks and presenting posters.

The QFC was active as well with a poster and a short course. Lisa presented a poster titled “Breaking down barriers to transparent decisions: A role for structured decision-making in the management of impounded rivers” on the work she did during her time as a Fenske Fellow. Mike, Lisa, and Norine taught the Introduction to Programming in R for Fisheries Scientists workshop which had 10 participants from nearly 10 different countries. Though this was not the QFC’s first foray into teaching the course internationally, it was certainly one of the most diverse!

Congratulations to our 2 newest graduates

Congratulations to our two newest graduates.  Both Jared Meyers and Dave Fielder earned their Ph.D’s!

Jared and Dave grad pic


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