Tristano named as Great Lakes Fisheries Fellow

July 19, 2018

By Jennifer A. Smith

Wisconsin Sea Grant announces the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Tristano as the J. Philip Keillor Great Lakes Fisheries Fellow. This one-year position, offered in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is named in honor of the late coastal engineering expert, who served for many years with Sea Grant.

Tristano comes to Wisconsin from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where she recently completed a PhD in zoology and served as a research assistant at SIU’s Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. Her dissertation focused on the role of invasive Asian carp in native food webs.

Now, in her new role, Tristano will turn her attention to evaluating the potential for stocking brook trout instead of splake in Lake Superior. Said Tristano, “It’s definitely a change of direction, coming from the invasive species route, but it all ties together in that they’re both management concerns. This will be a new challenge for me, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Tristano, who began her duties July 9, is based in downtown Madison at the Wisconsin DNR’s Bureau of Fisheries Management. She’ll collaborate with researchers, fisheries managers and a variety of stakeholders and mentors.

Explained Tristano, “Splake is a hybrid between brook trout and lake trout, so it is not a naturally occurring species. I’m tasked with compiling all of the scientific knowledge to date on brook trout and splake and their interactions to make a management recommendation.”

She’ll collaborate with Sea Grant Fisheries Outreach Specialist Dr. Titus Seilheimer, who is based at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc. Said Seilheimer, “Stocking decisions can be controversial, but with the right combination of evidence and outreach, this project should help stakeholders and managers make sound management decisions.”

After Tristano’s fellowship year is up, the Akron, Ohio, native is interested in college-level teaching, preferably at a small liberal arts school like her undergraduate alma mater, Denison University. She enjoyed the amount of one-on-one time students had with professors at Denison, and she built a strong connection with her advisor, aquatic ecologist Jessica Rettig.

“My dream job would be landing a tenure-track position with a focus on human impacts on the environment, and how science and policy interact to shape how humans interact with other species,” said Tristano.

In her free time, she hopes to explore her new city with her fiancé, hike and play some golf; in fact, she was varsity golf captain during her undergraduate days. “From what I’ve seen, Madison is a beautiful city, and I’m excited to be on board here,” said Tristano.