The 2023 Northeast Aquatic Biologists (NAB) Conference convened for its annual regional event in Plymouth, Massachusetts in February. Participation surpassed pre-pandemic numbers, with 152 attendees from all seven of NEIWPCC member states’ environmental departments, the U.S. EPA, and United States Geological Survey (USGS), academic institutions, and the private sector.
Deneen Simpson, director of Environmental Justice at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), served as the event’s first plenary speaker, providing insights into the evolution of the environmental justice movement. She also spoke about the ways in which MassDEP is integrating environmental justice into their programs, and how other states can incorporate it into their workplans.
The second half of the plenary was given by Kellie Merrell, an aquatic biologist with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. She provided a thought-provoking presentation on the aging of the Clean Water Act with no shortage of humor, metaphors, and imagery to keep the audience not only engaged but also to have fun.
NEIWPCC’s post-conference survey showed that the concurrent session on river and stream monitoring was well received. During this session, Andrew Kowalczk and Natasha Scavotto, both of the USGS; Sal DeCarli, EA Engineering, Science, & Technology, Inc., PBC; and Kirsten Hugger and Ted Walsh, both of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, discussed various innovative ways to monitor water quality for parameters such as nutrient and sediment-loading, chloride and road salt, and cold water refugia.
During the annual banquet, the 2023 Legendary Aquatic Biologists (LAB) Awards were presented to Robert Nuzzo and Warren Kimball, both formerly of MassDEP, as well as Susan Davies, formerly of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The LAB Award recognizes those who have devoted their careers to furthering science and policy to protect the region’s aquatic resources, and with gratitude for serving as thoughtful mentors and supportive advisers to environmental professionals in their work to carry out the Clean Water Act.
Additional awards were presented to Katherine Abbott and Stefanie Farrington of the University of Massachusetts Amherst for best oral student presentations. Abbott received the first-place award for her presentation, “Recovery of Benthic Macroinvertebrates Following Small Dam Removals.” The top student poster presentations included Callista MacPherson and Alexa Hershberger, also of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. MacPherson presented her research on the conservation of freshwater mussels, receiving the first-place award.
The event was a success largely due to the work of the NAB planning team and the support from exhibitors and sponsors. The NAB planning team included Dahlia Tympanick, co-chair, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; Tom Danielson, Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Kirsten Hugger, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services; Kellie Merrell and Heather Pembrook, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation; Alene Onion and Zachary Smith, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Mary Becker, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Jane Sawyers and Katie DeGoosh-DiMarzio, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; Corey Conville, EPA Region 1; and Maryann Dugan, Richard Friesner, Ashley Harrington, and Megan Nickerson, NEIWPCC. HOBO Data Loggers, Xylem/YSI, EA Engineering, Science and Technology, Inc., PBC, and SOLitude Lake Management hosted displays in the exhibitor hall, while Tetra Tech and Midwest Biodiversity Institute contributed at the sponsorship level.
The 2024 NAB Conference will be held in Vermont. The event planners will update the agenda as more information becomes available.