Aubrey Szoke '20

Supporting Student Research - Aubrey Szoke Dives into UNE’s Mussel Research

Aubrey Szoke ‘20 is making waves as she continues to build on UNE’s blue mussel studies. For the past year she has been working with Katie Parker ‘18, on assessing pathogens and signs of stress in blue mussels in order to help Maine’s mussel farms.

Her research is a continuation of Parker’s project designed in response to a local mussel farmer’s experience of a mass die-off event in 2016. The resulting research, funded by Bristol Seafood and NFC SeaNet, will be used to educate farmers on developing hazards in Maine, as well as how to better understand the health of their mussels.

With the continued support of Bristol Seafood and NFC SeaNet, Szoke and her fellow researchers will be able to continue this project, present their findings during UNE’s research symposiums and other conferences, as well as share their knowledge with the Casco Bay mussel farm that started it all!

Szoke noted the significance this research can have on aquaculture as a whole:

“Aquaculture in particular is going to be very important in feeding the global population soon. Research that helps mussel farmers to better understand the health of their mussels and when their mussels are most nutritious, will assist in feeding the world. Mussels are one of the most sustainable foods that you can grow, more so than corn and other forms of agriculture because mussels filter the water around them, improve water quality, and they don’t cause any secondary death as mussels don’t use pesticides or antibiotics.”

As a Marine Biology major, Szoke and is considering a double major with Medical Biology. Her work in the lab is challenging and she is excited about the project’s growth and future potential. Within the next few years she would also like to become a mentor to undergraduate students interested in continuing this study. Her plans after graduation include pursuing a career as a research scientist, after obtaining her Ph.D.

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