Last modified: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fisheries Experiment Station

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Fish health

The Fish Health division (a.k.a. Technical Services) plays an active extension role in both fish health issues for state culture facilities and wild fish in Utah. The program includes a full-service fish pathology program including virology, bacteriology, parasitology and histopathology capabilities.

  • Inspection services are provided to ensure state hatcheries and wild broodstock sources are specific pathogen free and meet the requirements of the Fish Health Policy Board for legal transport of fish/fish eggs within the state of Utah. All samples collected in this process are tested at the Fisheries Experiment Station laboratories. Those facilities which are pathogen free according to rules set forth by the Fish Health Board are given fish health approval. Current fish health approval list — (PDF format)
  • The fish disease diagnostic service identifies specific fish disease problems in state hatcheries, institutional aquaculture and wild fish and provides help in the management and treatment of such problems.
  • Ongoing surveys help track the unfortunate presence of the whirling disease parasite and other pathogens across the state and help document their impact of wild fish.


Wade Cavender

Wade Cavender is the Fish Health Specialist and team leader for Technical Services department at FES. He is a native of Ohio and earned his AS in Fish and Wildlife Management at Hocking College and his BS in aquaculture at the University of Idaho. His Masters degree is also from the University of Idaho where he conducted research on the development of quantitative polymerase chain reaction methods to detect the parasite that causes whirling disease. He also studied the parasites distribution within the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater Rivers of Idaho. Following Wade's graduate work, he was employed as the fish health specialist with Arizona Game and Fish were he maintained a fish disease/pathology laboratory to provide investigative capabilities and solutions for stateside disease issues in managed waters. Wade is an avid hunter and fisherman who has expressed great interest in exploring Utah's outdoor opportunities.

Contact Wade by email. Phone 435-752-1066, ext 211

Maria Hansen

Maria Hansen earned her B.S. degree from Brigham Young University, Hawaii and her M.S. degree from the University of Hawaii. She most recently worked at Utah's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Logan, Utah where many of her duties included diagnostic testing in microbiology, immunohistochemistry and parasitology. She also spent much of her time working with molecular, serology, pathology and histology departments.

She is a Utah native, and she has expressed great interest in learning and understanding the state's fish health program. Maria's primary duties will include managing parasitology services here at FES, but she will also use her considerable experience to assist with bacteriology and virology sections.

Contact Maria by email. Phone 435-752-1066 extension 213.

Cristi Swan

Cristi Swan earned both her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Idaho in Fisheries Resources. Her master's work focused on the identification of a localized mucosal immune response in rainbow trout and purification of IgM and other proteins from serum and mucus of rainbow trout. Prior to her studies in Idaho, Cristi attended Green River Community College and earned A.S. degrees in Water Quality, Park Management and Forestry. A native of Montana, Cristi has also lived in Idaho and Washington and looks forward to getting to know Utah's people, history and landscape.

Cristi's main duties will be the management of bacteriology services and she will use her considerable experience in the ongoing development of a vaccine against coldwater disease in our state hatchery system.

Contact Cristi by email. Phone 435-752-1066 ext. 213.

David Thompson

Chris Heck is a microbiologist with over 15 years of experience performing laboratory research. He has a Bachelors degree in Soil Science and Microbiology from the University of Minnesota and a Masters degree from Western State College in Gunnison Colorado where he conducted research on the purification and characterization of isoenzymes involved in plant development. Chris is a long-time Logan resident who has gained much of his resume experience working at Utah State University. Chris's extensive experience in microbiological and molecular biological lab techniques, along with his practical experience with laboratory equipment, is a valuable asset in the growing fish health program at FES. Outside his studies, Chris has a passion for back-country skiing, rock climbing and road biking.

Contact Chris by email. Phone 435-752-1066 extension 205.

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