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Zebrafish Husbandry Workshop/SkillsUSA Leadership Conference

Gadsden State to Host Workshop to Develop Zebrafish Husbandry Curriculum

Researchers, professors, biologists and aquatics specialists from universities, hospitals and research facilities across the country will be at Gadsden State

Community College next week for a workshop designed to fill a gap in modern medical research.

Gadsden State’s Aquaculture Department will host a “Zebrafish Husbandry Education Curriculum Development Workshop” June 4-7.  Dr. Hugh Hammer, aquaculture instructor, said the purpose of the workshop is to develop an educational program at Gadsden State designed to train people to take care of Zebrafish, which are becoming a workhorse in medical research.

Traditionally medical research has depended on rats and mice as research subjects. Currently for many practical reasons, Zebrafish are being used widely in research. They are less expensive, reproduce much faster than rodents, and the Zebrafish genome has been fully mapped.

Hammer said that he’s challenged people to type the name of any human disease and Zebrafish into any Internet search engine. “For any human disease, you will find that someone somewhere is using Zebrafish in research on it.  Many labs are using Zebrafish,” Hammer said, “but no one knows how to take care of them.” Their experience in keeping lab rats has not prepared researchers for a lab with 30,000 or more Zebrafish.

“It’s just different. You can’t treat fish like rats and mice. Everyone realizes this is a bottleneck in the system,” Hammer said, and the upcoming workshop grew out of the need to eliminate that dilemma.

Gadsden State and officials from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) have partnered together to design this workshop so that the biologists and researchers can work with aquatics specialists to develop a program of study that will prepare students for the task of growing and caring for the Zebrafish needed for research. AquaticHabitats, Aquaneering, Tecniplast USA, LLCThoren Aquatic Systems, Inc., and the Zebrafish Husbandry Association are participating in and sponsoring the workshop along with Gadsden State and UAB.

In addition, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Institute in New York, Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Washington School of Medicine, National Institute of Health/Charles River, and Reed Mariculture, Inc. are sending representatives to Gadsden State to spend three days working on the curriculum for this program—a testament to the importance of meeting this need in the research field through job training.

Discrepancies in animal care can compromise research goals. Participants in the workshop will be developing education to provide standardized methods of caring for the fish.  This curriculum will soon be offered at Gadsden State, making it the only college in the world with the distinction of offering this curriculum. For students, this curriculum will provide the skill set needed for good jobs in research labs after a three-semester program of study.

For more information about the workshop contact Dr. Hugh Hammer at 256-549-8345 or


Students Compete at State SkillsUSA Conference

Gadsden State Community College students continued their winning tradition at the Alabama SkillsUSA Leadership Conference held recently in Birmingham.  Seven gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals were awarded to students from the Ayers, East Broad and Valley Street campuses.  The gold medal winners will now advance to compete at the 48th Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), a showcase of career and technical education students, held in Kansas City June 23-27.

        Tim Green, dean of technical education and workforce development, said, “We are extremely proud of all our students who competed in the state SkillsUSA competition.  Their dedication to excellence is evident as is that of their instructors who are preparing the champions of tomorrow’s workforce.” 

        The individual gold medal winners include: Zack Franklin, Horton (Automotive Refinishing); Corey Lucas, Piedmont (Diesel Equipment Technology); Joseph Newcomb, Springville (Collision Repair); Lisa Ruiz, Oxford (Residential/Construction Wiring); and Cody Taylor, Gadsden (CNC Turning Technology).  The team of Wade McDaniel and Tina Wallace of Hokes Bluff and Allen Talley of Southside won a gold medal in Automotive Manufacturing Technology.  Nic Hartman, Gadsden (State Only T-shirt Design).

        Silver medal winners include: Jesse Bryant, Fort Payne (HVAC/R); James Griffin, Ashland (Industrial Motor Controls); Cody Rayford, Ashville (Carpentry) and Michael Worrell, Oxford (Automotive Refinishing).

        Bronze medal winners include:  Hunter Calvert, Guntersville (Carpentry); Bradly Higdon, Higdon (HVAC/R) and Ronald Owens, Alexandria (Precision Machining Technology).  The team of Kayla Cole of Wedowee and Jessica Ruger of Tuscaloosa won a bronze medal in Esthetics.

        Instructors for these students include:  Robin Cochran (Esthetics), Tim Hardy (HVAC/R), Bruce Hill (Collision Repair and Automotive Refinishing), Heath McDaniel (Carpentry),  Joe Mashburn ( Automotive Refinishing), David Smith (CNC Turning/ Precision Machining/Automotive Manufacturing Technology), and Stephan Stuelp (Diesel Equipment Technology),  Tony Thrower (Industrial Motor Controls and Residential/Construction Wiring), and  James Wilson (Automotive Manufacturing Technology and T-shirt Design).

        SkillsUSA is the national organization for college/postsecondary technical students enrolled in trade, technical, and skilled service profession instructional programs including allied health occupations, which represents more than 300,000 students in 130 different occupational areas. 


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