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Utah Fish Conference 2018: Meeting Summary

Posted by , on 25 October 2018

The Zebrafish Interest Group at the University of Utah held its first Utah Fish Conference (UFC) on October 8, 2018. The conference was organized by pre- and post-doctoral trainees to celebrate the University’s Zebrafish Interest Group (ZIG), as well as to unite the Mountain West fish community. This 1-day event hosted over 80 attendees from 6 institutes. UFC was sponsored by the University’s ZIG, as well as Tecniplast USA, Aquatic Enterprises, IDT, Aquaneering, wFluidx, NCI, NEB, Zeiss, ThermoFisher by Life Technologies, and Developmental Dynamics.

UFC was held at the Crocker Science Center at the University of Utah. The talks were well-attended by an active audience.


The event featured two excellent keynotes, Trista E. North at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Bruce Draper at University of California-Davis. Dr. North jump-started the day’s event with a stimulating talk on the hematopoietic signaling connectome. She was followed by two hour-long sessions of trainee talks, which represented labs across the University and trainees from outside institutes. There was an active poster session comprising 30 posters from 16 labs, with presenters from all career stages, from undergraduate to faculty researchers.


Members of the Organizing Committee (Left to Right: Chelsea Herdman, Alexis Fulbright, and Penny Lam) caught chatting with Dr. North during a coffee break.

An “Ask Me Anything” panel followed the poster session and featured both senior and junior faculty from the University, as well as Dr. North. A pre-doctoral trainee, Deeptha Vasudevan, moderated questions from the audience, and the panel covered topics from how to settle on a career path to advice on how to start your lab. The AMA was followed by an exciting evening talk from Dr. Bruce Draper about sex determination.


The poster session featured 30 posters from a diverse group of labs.

During dinner, the awards for best talk and best posters were announced. Robert Mackin (U of Idaho) won the Outstanding Young Investigator award for his excellent talk. Poster awards were given to 2 trainees in each category: undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral trainee. Awards went to: Jeffrey Dunn (BYU) and Samuel Caton (BYU) in the undergraduate category; Dana Klatt Shaw (U of Utah) and Srishti Kotiyal (U of Utah) in the graduate category; and Chelsea Herdman (U of Utah) and Angie Serrano (U of Utah) in the post-doctoral category. Awards were cash prizes sponsored by Developmental Dynamics. Following dinner, an after-party was hosted at The Porcupine Pub, sponsored by ThermoFisher by Life Technologies. The conversation was lively and offered more opportunities for trainees to intermix and mingle with faculty, Dr. North, and Dr. Draper.


The UFC was an invigorating moment for the University’s ZIG community, as well as for the Mountain West fish community. It was an excellent way to highlight the working happening within the region, and unite different institutes.


UFC2018 Organizing Committee:

Gabriel Bossé, PhD, @GabrielBosse1 (Randall Peterson Lab)

Macaulie Casey, @_macro16 (Kristen Kwan Lab)

Alexis Fulbright, @AlexisFulbright (Kim Evason Lab)

Chelsea Herdman, PhD, @ChelseaHerdman (H. Joseph Yost Lab)

Pui Ying Lam, PhD, (Randall Peterson Lab)

Sarah Lusk, @TheRealSlusk (Kristen Kwan Lab)

Luke Sanders, (H. Joseph Yost Lab)

Angie Serrano, PhD, @MAngieSerrano (H. Joseph Yost Lab)

Bhawika Sharma, @bhawi89 (H. Joseph Yost Lab)

Dana Klatt Shaw, @DanaShawsome (David Grunwald Lab)

Deeptha Vasudevan, @DeepthaVasu (Richard Dorsky Lab)

Kristen Kwan, PhD, @BlockInTheBack, (Faculty, Department of Human Genetics)

James Gagnon, PhD, @james_gagnon, (Faculty, Department of Biology)



Macaulie A. Casey (graduate student with Kristen M. Kwan, University of Utah)

Sarah L. Lusk (graduate student with Kristen M. Kwan, University of Utah)

Chelsea Herdman (postdoctoral fellow with H. Joseph Yost, University of Utah)


People to Follow:

University of Utah Zebrafish Interest Group, @Utah_ZIG

Utah Fish Conference,


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