April 21, 2004

Doctoral student wins Sea Grant fellowship

by K.C. Jaehnig

(Editors: Note local name)

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jesse T. Trushenski, a second-year doctoral student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale specializing in fish, has won one of five fellowships awarded to graduate students across the country through the National Sea Grant College Program.

The two-year fellowships, worth $30,000 annually, team students with scientists and engineers from industrial sponsors on research and development projects aimed at solving real-world problems. Trushenski will work with researchers from Archer Daniels Midland in Quincy.

Christopher C. Kohler, head of SIUC's Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center, said, "At SIUC, we're looking to become one of the nation's top 75 research universities by 2019 (a plan formally known as Southern@150), and this kind of national award works toward that goal, while bringing recognition and prestige to the University.

"This is the kind of thing that happens when you recruit outstanding graduate students," he said, noting that Trushenski, who entered the doctoral program after finishing her undergraduate degree, had scored a perfect 800 on the advanced biology portion of the Graduate Record Examination, the graduate equivalent of the undergraduate SAT or ACT.

Working mainly with ADM scientist Mamduh Sifri, Trushenski will study the role vitamin E plays in fish health with an eye toward improving the immune systems of sunshine bass raised on fish farms. Raised commercially, these fish tend to suffer more from disease and stress than other aquaculture species.

Rather than giving them drugs to treat symptoms, Trushenski hopes to boost their immune systems through diet -- a cheaper, safer and more environmentally sound solution to a problem that affects not only sunshine bass but farm-raised fish in general.

"As the old saying goes, 'You are what you eat,' and if we can make better diets, maybe we can make better, healthier, more robust fish," said Trushenski, who is interested in sustainable aquaculture.

Trushenski hopes to do research in an industrial setting after finishing her doctorate.

"Being able to work with a partner like ADM before my career really even begins is a tremendous advantage, allowing me to further my relationship with Dr. Sifri and other ADM staff and to benefit from the wealth of experience these scientists possess," she said.

"ADM has been involved with animal nutrition in other species, and, perhaps surprisingly, there is some carryover from what has been learned in poultry and cattle to what can be learned from fish."

Trushenski, a native of Pomeroy Wash., earned her bachelor's degree in 2002 from Western Washington University. Her parents, Larry H. and Julie R. Trushenski, recently moved to Burfordville (907 State Highway UU), Mo.