Who are we?


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The American Fisheries Society is the oldest and largest society for fisheries scientists in the world with over 9000 members. We are the Student Subunit of the Ontario Chapter of AFS, formed in March 2007, to represent fisheries students and young professionals from across Ontario and abroad. We provide student members with opportunities and information on AWARDS and EVENTS throught this site, our Facebook page, and Twitter account. We also contribute to the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Chapter, organize student retreats and journal club meetings. Check out NEWS and EVENTS, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information!



AFS-OC  Student Subunit Officers

Alice Abrams

As a Ph.D. student at Carleton University, Alice's work focuses on the management and development of black bass fisheries in the Rideau Watershed, specifically Big Rideau lake; one of the most heavily fished waterbodies in eastern Ontario. With early exposure to work with black bass, Alice's research aims to elucidate how fish displaced by fishing tournaments navigate their particular body of water after being released at a common site, usually the weigh-in station of the tournament. She will be using acoustic telemetry to compare smallmouth bass and largemouth bass throughout the year by tracking fish across all seasons to determine if they remain localized to the release site, head to main lake or navigate back to home their range.

Alice has been a AFS-OC memeber for some time and she will make immediate contributions as the President of the student subunit. Her extensive experience with community outreach and stakeholder engagement allow Alice to bring her knowledge and novel ideas to the Ontario Chapter of AFS.

Jacob Burbank 

Jacob’s research interests lie in developing an understanding of the feeding and thermal ecology of small-bodied fish, the role of small-bodied fish in food web structure and the importance of terrestrial inputs to stream fishes, particularly in urbanized areas. Currently Jacob is pursuing his Ph.D. under the supervision of Michael Power at University of Waterloo and Andrew Drake at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Jacob's thesis is focused on describing the general feeding and thermal ecology of a freshwater species at risk in Canada; Silver Shiner. The investigation will provide valuable ecological and life history information for a previously understudied fish species. In his spare time (when not obsessing over the mighty Silver Shiner) he loves to get outdoors, camp, canoe and wet the occasional line.

Jacob is a fairly new member to AFS-OC and is excited to serve you as Vice President of AFS-OC student subunit and will bring loads of enthusiasm to all our fun and exciting fishy events.

Britney Firth 

Britney is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo, co-supervised my Michael Power and Andrew Drake at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Her research interests lie in conservation physiology of all aquatic organisms to gain a better understanding of the link between ecology and physiology to improve our conservation management decisions in trying to save species at-risk. She is currently examining the critical temperature maximum and the critical oxygen tolerance of the threatened Eastern Sand Darter across a siltation gradient, the main threat facing their survival. Along with these tolerances she will be examining the gill morphology to assess their ability to adapt to different levels of siltation and temperature. This research will help us gain a better understanding on how siltation is influencing the species and how the Eastern Sand Darter will face threats to its survival in the future.


Britney is a new member to AFS-OC and is looking forward to contributing to the association as its new secretary-treasurer.

Peter is a Ph.D candidate at Carleton University where his work focuses on the physiological mechanisms behind exhaustive exercise in fish. With a Master's degree in cardiovascular physiology, he plans apply his knowledge and experience to understanding the cellular signalling pathways involved in the stress associated with catch and release angling events. Furthermore, he plans on using this research to determine how changes in these signalling pathways could have real-world implications on fish, and how these changes alter their susceptibility to stress and predation.

Peter is also a new member to AFS-OC and plans to support the executive committee and continue to develop stakeholder relationships inside and out of the student subunit.

Peter Holder
East Region Representative
Ashley Smith
Kawartha Region Representative

Ashley currently holds her BSc in Honours Biology, which she achieved from Trent University in 2017. Her primary focus of studies during her time at Trent included limnology, river and stream ecology, fish biology, and conservation biology. Currently, the is on-track to complete her Advanced Diploma in Ecosystem Management Technology at Sir Sandford Fleming College School of Environment and Natural Resource Science, and is set to graduate in April, 2020.

Ashley is currently employed by Sir Sandford Fleming’s Salmonid Hatchery, taking on the role as Salmonid Hatchery Assistant. Previously, she was employed by Ontario Streams, a non-governmental charity, as a Habitat Technician focused on enhancing stream ecosystems throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Her daily tasks included implementing stream and riparian restoration projects, tree planting events, wetland restoration, and community outreach. These projects were tailored to stream bank erosion and sediment control, as well as the enhancement of habitat for Species at Risk such as Atlantic salmon and Redside dace. Ashley aims to pursue a career as an aquatic biologist, and continuously finds ways to expand her knowledge of aquatic ecosystems and their functions.  



Early Years – Pre-Student Subunit

As the AFS parent society grew, smaller AFS affiliated “chapters” began to form across the United States and Canada. In Ontario, two of these chapters formed to represent the Northwestern (formed 1979, incorporated 1995) and Southern (formed 1988) regions of the province. In 2004, members of the two chapters agreed to merge and form one chapter to represent all of the Ontario AFS members. It was at this time that a small number of students stepped forward to represent the student members of the newly amalgamated Ontario Chapter. Between 2004 and 2007, Lynn Bouvier, Nick Lapointe, Andrew Drake, Mark Poos, Andrea Bernard, Bill MacLeod, Shari Sokay, Jarrod Stackhouse, Steve Marson, Karen Murchie, Greg Elliot, Melissa Robillard, Katie Stammler and Caleb Hasler acted as AFS-OC student representatives to provide a voice for students and young professionals in the chapter. A number of these representatives continued to work with the chapter and were ultimately responsible for shaping the AFS-OC Student Subunit (the Subunit).

The creation of the Subunit

The first major step to create the Subunit was taken in 2006 with the development of a student focused section of the AFS-OC website. This section was devoted to providing information for students regarding research and job opportunities, scholarship and awards, and institutions that were well known for fisheries research. With growing interest from the student membership, student reps soon focused their attention from simply providing information to providing additional opportunities within the chapter. These included but were not limited to education, professional development, training, and collaboration. In the spring of 2007, AFS-OC Executive Commitee (ExComm) and the student reps changed the chapter bylaws to include students in the executive committee, thus recognizing a Student Subunit of the Ontario Chapter of AFS. In the same year, the parent society accepted the bylaw changes, officers were incorporated into the ExComm, and the Subunit was made official.

2007-2008 Term

After receiving a letter from the parent society that accepted the creation of the Subunit, the ExComm and its members nominated students for three executive positions. These three students would act as Pro tem officers until officially elected in the Fall of 2007.

President (Pro tem): Mary Finch
Vice President (Pro tem): Mike Donaldson
Secretary-Treasurer (Pro tem): Andrew Drake
Faculty Advisor: Steve Cooke

The AFS-OC AGM of 2007 was the location for the earliest events by the Student Subunit. The most notable activity that the Subunit developed at the 2007 meeting was the silent auction, which in combination with a raffle draw has become a tradition of the Subunit in subsequent years of the AGM. Students raised over $700 in the auction/raffle, which was used to help develop a fund to support future student-oriented events. In the fall of 2007, Mary Finch, Michael Donaldson, and Andrew Drake officially stepped in as the Subunit ExComm for the 2007-2008 term. The Subunit planned and executed the first official student subunit event in the fall, which was a Class-2 backpack electofishing certification course with the Trent University Institute of Watershed Science. In late February 2008, the Subunit organized and hosted the 2008 AFS-OC Student Colloquium and Winter Retreat at Queen’s University Biological Station in Kingston. The event included a number of excellent student presentations, social dinners, ice fishing, snowshoeing, skiing, and one incredible snow storm!

2008-2011 (Three Terms)


Student Subunit Executive
President: Caleb Hasler
Vice President: Monica Granados

Secretary-Treasurer: Connie O’Conner

The 2008-2011 Subunit helped to organize a Student-Mentor Lunch, Student Colloquium on employment opportunities, Career Fair, Student Social, and assisted the Ontario Chapter ExComm with general conference organization and administration at the 2008 AFS Annual Meeting in Ottawa. The Subunit also received AFS-OC funding to support the undergraduate Ontario Ecology and Ethology Colloquium 2009. In March 2010, the Subunit and the Toronto Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and Sea Choice hosted a screening of “The End of the Line” at University of Toronto. The screening was followed by an excellent talk by Stacy O’Malley of Sea Choice. Members of Canadian Aquatic Resources Sections (CARS) and the Subunit also hosted a student colloquium at the Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research (CCFFR) in 2011. Here the panel shared their experience and fielded questions about careers and education.

2011-2012 Term

Student Subunit Executive
President: Lee Gutowsky
Vice President: Andrew Ecclestone
Secretary-Treasurer: Sarah Steele

The 2011-2012 Subunit officially began serving the student membership in September 2011. The 2011-2012 Subunit planned and hosted a welcome social/BBQ and organized the traditional silent auction and raffle at the AGM in 2012. The social/BBQ allowed students and professionals to mingle and develop relationships over food and drinks, while the silent auction provided a chance to win prizes and raise money (~$700!) for the Subunit. Interactions between students and professionals throughout the meeting encouraged many students to later attend the Ecology and Evolutionary Ethology Conference 2012 (EEEC) held in Windsor. The Subunit subsequently took the initiative to host an EEEC social event that included drinks, food, and a door prize.

While Andrew Ecclestone has graduated and started his career in fisheries, both Lee Gutowsky and Sarah Steele continue to volunteer with the Subunit. The most recent achievement of the 2011-2012 Subunit is the development and sponsorship of a brand new “Outstanding Mentor Award”.

2012-2014 Term

Student Subunit Executive
President: Lee Gutowsky
Vice President: Jake Brownscombe
Secretary-Treasurer: Sarah Steele


2014-2015 Term

Student Subunit Executive
President:  Jake Brownscombe
Vice President: Vivian Nguyen
Secretary-Treasurer: Robert Lennox

2015-2016 Term

Student Subunit Executive
President:  Vivian Nguyen
Vice President: Jacqueline Chapman
Secretary-Treasurer: Jill Brooks

2016-2018 Term

Student Subunit Executive

President:  Jacqueline Chapman

Vice President: Michael Lawrence

Secretary-Treasurer: Alice Abrams

East Region Representative: Peter Holder