Susan Cushman

I’m the Director of Introductory Biology Laboratories at Hobart & William Smith (HWS) Colleges and Research Scientist at the Finger Lakes Institute at HWS in Geneva, NY.  I’m an aquatic biologist who primarily studies stream and river ecosystems in the Finger Lakes region. My research questions cross many scales of fish & insect ecology, from watersheds to communities, populations to individual organisms. My graduate research at the University of Maryland (UMD) Center for Environmental Science (in Fisheries Science) examined the effects of urbanization on stream habitat and small stream fish, and I have continued to study the Blacknose Dace through a variety of lenses in tributaries to the Finger Lakes.  Recent students have looked at the effects of blackspot parasite infections and endocrine disruptors in this species.  My interest in habitat restoration resulted in working with NYDEC and building a long term dataset of trout populations as well as collaborations with the USFWS and USFS on stream monitoring in the Finger Lakes National Forest in regionally restored stream channels. Most recently, my research projects include understanding mercury accumulation in stream and lake foodwebs, and food preferences of the invasive species Round Goby in the Finger Lakes. In addition to conducting research, I helped establish the FLI Regional Stream Monitoring Network, which provides secondary teachers with training and resources to take their students out to the field to study stream health.  Finally, I am the Adirondack Director of the Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute (ESSYI), a two week program that introduces high school aged students to all aspects of environmental studies.

Although I haven’t held any committee or officer positions within AFS since graduate school where I was the secretary of the UMD student subunit, I’ve been an active participant of local and national AFS meetings. From attending the Tidewater Chapter meeting in Maryland as a graduate student, to bringing my own research students to the New York Chapter meeting in the last few years, I find especially great value in meeting and networking with other fisheries professionals at this level.

As your president, I will strive to promote more opportunities to gather and learn from each other across the state.  Specifically:

  • I will promote increased communication throughout the year about the chapter to you, our membership, since communication is key to growth.
  • I would like to see more workshops, both in the field and in the lab (especially off season), to learn from our local experts and be able to contribute to our professional development and continuing education.
  • I’d like to broaden the scope of chapter by reaching out to new aquatic professionals in the scientific community that may not have previously thought NY AFS was the right fit.
  • As an educator of young adults, I would also like to encourage more NY AFS members to engage in mentoring at the high school and undergraduate level, through programs like the Hutton Program, offered through AFS.
  • As our chapter continues its growth as demonstrated through record attendance at the last few meetings, I would like to specifically engage and help promote women in fisheries science through gatherings at the annual meeting.
  • Finally, I would also like to increase opportunities for NY AFS to co-sponsor other programming that already occurs at local colleges and universities and with other regional professional societies.

I am excited about the direction NY AFS is headed and hope to be a part of this great leadership.