CFK grad wins aquaculture award for black grouper research

American Fisheries Society Fish Culture Section (FCS) President Jeff Heindel, CFK graduate Caeley Flowers, and FCS Immediate Past President and CFK instructor Dr. Mick Walsh at the World Aquaculture Society conference February 2023.

NEW ORLEANS, LA, March 13, 2023— A recent graduate of The College of the Florida Keys’ (CFK), Caeley Flowers, was recognized for her research on black grouper at the World Aquaculture Society’s “Aquaculture America 2023” conference in New Orleans, LA, February 23-26. She was the only undergraduate to receive a Best Student Abstract Travel Award from the American Fisheries Society (AFS), Fish Culture Section (FCS), for her presentation on research conducted in the capstone experience of the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Marine Resource Management program. Flowers’ presentation was titled “From Guts to Glory: Recirculating Aquaculture of Black Grouper Myceteroperca bonaci at The College of the Florida Keys.”

Flowers graduated CFK with a B.S. in Marine Resource Management (’22), an Associate in Science in Marine Environmental Technology (’20), and college credit certificates in Professional Research Diving (’20) as well as Tropical Ornamental Mariculture Technician (’22). She is now employed at CFK as the STEM Coordinator.

Flowers’ research on black grouper is part of an ongoing project at CFK’s Southernmost Marine Aquaculture Research and Training (SMART) Center. The goal of the SMART Center is to conduct undergraduate research as a training tool while providing students professional experience through internships and research assistantships—all while helping to restore the marine environment back to historic levels. The “Guts to Glory” project centers on using grouper gonads discarded in the fishing industry to perform in-vitro fertilization to breed the species. Grouper is commercially valuable as a food source, but aquaculture of the species is difficult.

FCS recognizes excellence in student research by offering “best abstract travel awards” to student members for AFS Annual Meetings and Aquaculture America conferences. To be eligible, a student must be a current member of the Fish Culture Section and should be giving an oral or poster presentation relevant to fish culture at the conference.

The American Fisheries Society, the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to the fisheries sciences started in 1870 as the American Fish Culturists’ Association. The Society’s fish culture-related concerns are now represented by the Fish Culture Section, formed in 1974 as one of the Society’s first fisheries discipline-oriented units. The Section represents those directly involved in fish culture and those involved in allied fields such as nutrition, physiology, toxicology, drug development, genetics and breeding, bioengineering and system design, economics, fisheries management and ecology, and everything in between.

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