Feature Stories 2016: Doug Zemeckis: '16 PhD in Marine Science & Technology

Doug Zemeckis
Feature Stories 2016: Doug Zemeckis: '16 PhD in Marine Science & Technology
Doug Zemeckis: '16 PhD in Marine Science & Technology

Doug Zemeckis researched the spawning dynamics of the Atlantic cod during his doctoral studies at SMAST.

Year: Class of 2016
Degree program: PhD in Marine Science & Technology
Hometown: Edison, NJ
Research: Spawning dynamics and movements of Atlantic cod in the Gulf of Maine
Next steps: Part-time postdoctoral researcher at SMAST and Rutgers University's Marine and Coastal Sciences department

Doug Zemeckis recently completed his PhD at the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST).

Over the last seven years, he has been a highly productive student, contributing as the lead or co-author of nearly a dozen peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. Zemeckis wrote his PhD dissertation on Spawning Dynamics, Seasonal Movements, and Population Structure of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) in the Gulf of Maine.

His prodigious output on spring and winter spawning cod has been valuable for developing management practices for New England fisheries.

Zemeckis' dissertation research was completed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and was funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Services through the Sportfish Restoration Act, as well as the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute.

His research on winter spawning cod, currently funded through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was funded through the Nature Conservatory and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries during the first year.

‌Zemeckis has worked closely with his faculty advisor, Prof. Steve Cadrin, on several studies of the Atlantic cod, haddock, and cusk off New England.

Toward a holistic understanding of the cod population

The objective of these projects is to provide a more holistic understanding of cod population dynamics and address fisheries problems using various tagging methods—conventional, archival, and acoustic—that track the journey and whereabouts of cod. Results from the studies investigating spring and winter spawning cod have proven valuable for informing fishery managers in the development of regulations to protect cod spawning aggregations.

"The results of Doug's and his colleagues' work have direct relevance to the way we monitor these fisheries resources and the way these fisheries are managed when it comes to protecting spawning behavior and conserving different spawning components, and accurately modeling the population dynamics," said Cadrin.

Partnerships in research

"All of these projects have direct relevance to New England fisheries, particularly the acoustic tagging work, which has been a great example of the research results produced by the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute, a partnership between SMAST and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries."

Zemeckis agreed: "I can't think of a better example of the strength of that partnership than these projects. There's a co-benefit where we have successfully combined everyone's complementary areas of expertise, which has led to the development of very strong and productive collaborations."

Additionally, Zemeckis serves as a co-principal investigator on multiple discard mortality projects with cod, haddock, and cusk, which are being competed in collaboration with researchers from the New England Aquarium, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the University of New England.

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