VIMS students win honors at world aquaculture conference

Marquardt, Poslednik sweep presentation awards from Nat’l Shellfisheries Association

Alex Marquardt and Anna Poslednik, graduate students at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, impressed at the recent Aquaculture 2022 conference in San Diego, earning both presentation awards bestowed by the National Shellfisheries Association (NSA).

The conference is a triennial joint meeting of the NSA, the World Aquaculture Society, the American Fisheries Society’s Fish Culture Section, and the National Aquaculture Association. It is the largest aquaculture meeting in the world with nearly 4,000 attendees from more than 90 countries.

VIMS Ph.D. student Alex Marquardt.Marquardt, a Ph.D. student with VIMS professor Roger Mann, received the 2022 Thurlow C. Nelson Award for her talk describing the distribution and size range of fossil oysters on the Atlantic continental shelf, and what those data reveal about the capacity of oysters past and present to keep pace with sea-level rise.

VIMS master's student Anna Poslednik with her poster during the Aquaculture 2022 international conference. © A. Marquardt/VIMS. Anna Poslednik, a master’s student with VIMS professor Ryan Carnegie, received the 2022 Gordon Gunter Award winner for her poster presentation, which used long-term data on disease diagnostics from Virginia oysters to provide insights into interactions between the major oyster pathogens Haplosporidum nelsoni and Perkinsus marinus.

Carnegie, a co-author on four presentations at the Aquaculture 2022 conference, reports that Marquardt’s presentation was incredibly well received. “When I was chatting with colleagues near the end of the meeting,” he says, “and asked them what they thought were the best presentations they'd seen—student or not—the immediate response was ‘Alex Marquardt's presentation on fossil oysters.’ Alex, Anna, and all our other students represented VIMS extremely well.”

Marquardt studied the size distribution of fossil oysters to illuminate their growth potential and capacity to keep pace with sea-level rise.

Each of the NSA presentation awards was established to honor a “distinctive and valuable contribution to shellfisheries science.” The Nelson Award is named after the distinguished shellfish biologist who served as NSA President from 1931-1933 and contributed more than 125 papers, many relating to oyster biology. VIMS students have now won the award in three of the last four NSA annual meetings.

Poslednik and her co-authors examined the prevalence and intensity of two common oyster microparasites to better understand their interactions and patterns of co-infection.

The Gunter Award is named after another leader in marine research and education, whose career spanned more than 60 years, including stints as Director of the University of Texas Institute of Marine Science and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, as well as service with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. The eponymous award recognizes the important and essential role of poster presentations as a vehicle for research communication.